THE 2-IN-1 GENERATION IS HERE TO STAY.
The 2-in-1 hybrid marketplace has become very competitive in recent times. Some of the best laptops we’ve seen over the last 12 months are also hybrid devices – these include Hewlett Packard’s highly accomplished Spectre x360 and the Microsoft Surface Pro i7, a class-leading hybrid that has both an mouth-watering specification and eye-watering price tag.
Welcome back Dell.
Our friends at Dell have been fairly quiet in the 2-in-1 market in recent times, so it’s good to see them get back in the game with the Latitude 5285, a 2-in-1 ‘convertible business laptop’ that is now available with the latest generation 7th Generation Kaby Lake Intel Core™ i7 processor.
At the time of writing, the entry level model on the official Dell UK website costs £969.00 +VAT. This version of the Latitude features the less powerful Intel core i5 processor, 8GB of memory and 128 GB solid state drive. In contrast, the i7-7600U version featured in this review weighs in at just over £1,469.00 +VAT. The cost of all versions on the UK Dell website includes the Active pen and the detachable travel keyboard, which are described below.
This isn’t a 2-in-1 for those of us that are on a budget – It’s not the most expensive hybrid on the market, but if you’re looking for a budget option then we’d suggest considering the Dell Inspiron 13 7000, or the bargain basement HP Elite x2.
Here are my thoughts.
To quote the Dell website, the Latitude 5285 is ‘Dells most secure 2-in-1 with the power of a laptop and flexibility of a Tablet’. I got to spend a week with the latitude using it as an office device and when commuting in and out of Central London. Here is my review.
If you’ve read other Latitude 5285 reviews online before reading this one, then you’ve probably noticed that most of them compare the Latitude to Microsoft’s Surface Pro, and with good reason. There are a lot of similarities, but there is one glaring difference between the two that could end up being a deal breaker for many of us. But I’ll come onto that later.
A quick overview.
- This is a detachable 2-in-1 that’s perfect for commuters
- Its light, thin and feels very durable
- The core i5 version of the 5285 will be plenty fast enough for most business users, but power users may wish to opt for the core i7 version
- Although not the worst in its class, the battery life isn’t great when doing anything resource intensive, so don’t forget your charger!
- The keyboard separates completely, allowing you to use it as a tablet device (it’s not one of those twisty designs!)
LET’S START WITH THE DESIGN.
The design of the Latitude is best summed up as smart, but rather understated. It isn’t ugly enough to make your eyes bleed, but it isn’t distinguished enough to turn heads either, which is no bad thing when you are commuting on the Central Line everyday!
That said, I do like the way that Dell has split the back shell of the tablet with contrasting magnesium alloy casing with a brushed metal finish kick stand. On the back, you’ll also find the standard Dell logo and ‘Latitude’ etched on the kickstand, a nice touch that adds to the quality appearance.
When used as a tablet device, the Latitude feels like a premium quality piece of kit, which is something we’ve come to expect from Dell in recent years.
The Kickstands quite clever!
I like the way that the kickstand automatically extends when you push the bottom edge of the Tablet on to the tablet. It’s easy to get used to and not much force is required. The kickstand itself will rotate up to 150 degrees to accommodate different viewing angles when more than one person is looking at the screen and again, this works well because the viewing angle is so good.
Weight and dimensions.
Dell Latitude 5285 2-in-1 Weighs in just under 2.7 pounds and measures in at thickness of just 0.6 inches, (with the keyboard). Dimensions taken from the official Dell website can be found below:
- Height: 0.38″
- Width: 11.5″
- Depth: 8.22″
- Weight: 1.89 lbs (0.86 kg)
With Travel Keyboard:
- Height: 0.59″ (14.9 mm)
- Width: 11.5″ (292 mm)
- Depth: 8.52″ (216.4 mm)
- Weight: 2.64 lbs (1.19 kg)
THE DETACHABLE TRAVEL KEYBOARD.
I have to say that I’m a big fan of the keyboard. It’s light, thin and you can tell that it’s manufactured to a good standard. Again, the materials are premium quality. There’s plenty of space between the keys and I didn’t experience any ghosting when writing this article. It offers a pleasant typing experience, even when writing long-winded reviews like this one!
Like other Dell laptops I’ve used, the keyboard features a rubber wrist surface that feels comfortable when typing.
I’m pleased to say that the keyboard isn’t an afterthought and a lot of effort has gone into retaining the look and feel of using a conventional ‘premium’ quality laptop keyboard. To conclude, the keyboard is a pleasant surprise!
The buttonless touchpad.
The 2.1 x 3.9” touchpad is buttonless because no one needs buttons anymore! The scrolling is smooth, sensitive and the clicks feel solid; similar to a new generation Macbook that I recently used. Because this tablet has a Windows 10 operating system, you can also use the three finger app-switching gestures, similar to the two finger gesture I showed my colleague when he asked to borrow the Latitude!
THE DELL ACTIVE PEN.
I hardly used the Dell Active Pen initially, but within a couple of days I was using it all the time for numerous tasks, including taking notes at our booooooring meetings and when using Adobe creative applications. I’m very impressed with the Active Pen to be honest. It’s highly sensitive and reacts well to the pressure you apply when using it, with minimal latency noticed. I know it’s an optional extra, but after using it for a week, I wouldn’t be without it.
The pen also features a rocker switch, which is fully customisable for functions like right-clicking and erasing.
Also, it’s magnetic, which means that you can stick it to the side of the tablet when not in use. The magnet is strong, so you don’t need to worry about losing it (and I lose everything!)
THE BATTERY LIFE.
The official Dell website states that you’ll enjoy ‘up to’ 12 hours 29 minutes battery life.
Don’t hold your breath.
It’s not the worst battery life I’ve experienced when using a Tablet device, but it’s definitely not the best when compared to similar devices in its class such as the Surface Book i7, which will give you a return of nearly ten hours (albeit for a hefty price tag, but impressive none the less for the high specification).
Of course it all depends on what your using it for, but from my short experience of You tubing on the tube, using Microsoft applications in the office and the occasional use of Adobe apps, I’d suggest that you suppress your expectations to 7 hours maximum battery life.
SPECIFICATIONS AND PERFORMANCE.
The Dell Latitude 5285 2-in-1 uses a 7th Generation Intel™ Dual Core processor. At the time of writing, there are five different configurations available on the Dell UK website, four of which feature the i5-7200U Dual Core 2.50Gz processor with 3MB cache. The fifth (and most expensive) specification features an i7-7600U Dual Core 2.80Gz processor with 4MB cache. This is the fastest version available at the time of writing.
Benchmark test results.
if you’d like to see some bench marking test results for the Latitude 5258, then I’d suggest heading over to the Laptop Mag website, after you’ve finished reading my review that is! They’ve got a number of detailed performance test results on their review page that go into far more detail then I can.
I’ve used the latitude to play some games on the go, but nothing more intensive than Godus to be honest (I love this game). It played this fine on high settings without any hiccups, but this is a moderately demanding game at best. Again, laptop mag goes into a bit more detail about gaming performance.
Solid State Drive.
This particular Latitude model I’m using comes with a 512GB Solid State Drive, which is more than enough for most business users that save most of their data in the cloud nowadays anyway. The entry model comes with a 128GB SSD, which can be upgraded to 256GB or 512GB SSD respectively.
Like I said, unless you’re against using cloud storage such as One Drive for example, I’d save some money and go for the cheapest SSD option.
As you’d expect from a Windows 10 device that uses a solid state drive, the operating system loads up incredibly fast. I’d recommend removing any annoying bloatware to help the loading times even further, but its not going to make that much difference to be honest.
Energy Star Rating.
The Latitude 5285 2-in-1 has ENERGY STAR rating of 6 .1, ENERGY STAR certified computers deliver substantial savings over standard models.
The Latitude 5285 2-in-1 comes with a 1Yr Collect and Return Warranty as standard. If you’d like extra peace of mind, you can choose to upgrade to a 1 Yr ProSupport and Next Business Day On-Site Service.
The Latitude features the following standard fare of connectivity ports and functions:
- Headphone/MIC combo jack
- USB 3.0 port
- Dual USB Type-C ports (which support DisplayPort connections)
- Volume rocker switch
- Micro SD card reader
- Micro Sim slot (for selected models)
- Near field communication (optional)
- Power button on the right side of the top edge
- Start button on the top of the right side.
- Keyboard connector
- Qualcomm QCA61x4A 802.11ac Dual Band(2×2),w BT,WLAN+WWAN antenna
There is also the option to have a biometric fingerprint reader if you’d like an additional layer of security. This is found on the back of the device, just above the kickstand.
SMILE FOR THE CAMERA.
The latitude features a 5.7 megapixel world facing camera and a 3.7 mega pixel selfie. Anyone that knows me will know that I love taking pictures (especially selfies) and being honest, I wasn’t overly impressed with the picture quality of the world facing camera, which in my humble opinion is a bit underpowered in this day and age. Selfies were ok, as long as you’re taking them in a well-lit area. It’s not terrible, but if your ultra-fussy about camera quality then you may wish to look at other options.
I mentioned at the beginning of this review that there is a glaring difference between the Surface Book and the Latitude that could be a deal breaker for many, who are choosing between the two, and that is the display.
The latitude has a 12.3” 1920 x 1080 resolution screen with a 3:2 aspect ratio. The first thing that I noticed about the screen was how bright and sharp the screen looked. In fact, I had to check the brightness settings to make sure that it wasn’t turned up to the max! The colours on the display look crisp, sharp and generally you won’t be disappointed.
The Surface Books poor cousin.
As good as the Latitude screen is, it cannot compare to either the 3000 x 2000 resolution display that you’ll find on the Microsoft Surface Book, or the 2736 x 1824 screen that you’ll currently find on the Surface Pro 4. Both of these are superior options when compared to the Latitude display and to be honest, when you compare both side-by-side, there’s a glaring difference in quality.
To be honest, I’m very surprised that Dell didn’t try to go toe-to-toe with Microsoft and didn’t at least try to match the display you’ll find on the Surface Pro.
I didn’t experience any lag or latency when using the Latitudes touchscreen. It’s VERY sensitive and tracked all of my moments very accurately, weather I was using my fingers or the pen. Because this is a Windows 10 device, you can take advantages of using edge swipe and two finger scrolling. A lot people in the office have disabled edge swipes, but I personally utilise it a lot.
ONE LAST OBSERVATION.
I did notice that the latitude tends to get quite hot after extended use, and this was particular noticeable when the hybrid is placed under load. Obviously you won’t notice this when using it as a laptop, but when used as a tablet device, you’ll be tempted to crack an egg on the display to see if it will cook (don’t do this by the way!) It definitely runs hotter than the Surfaces that we’re also using in the office.
- It’s a smart, if slightly understated looking device that’s perfect for use in a business environment
- The business keyboard and active pen are fantastic and complement the tablet perfectly
- It’s nice and light, which is good for commuters
- The build quality is excellent, with premium feel materials
- Numerous configuration options are available for passive and power users
- The screen is bright and sharp with accurate touch screen sensitivity
- The clever pop-out kickstand is impressive
- Battery life isn’t fantastic (although better than a Surface Pro 4), but there are better performers out there, such as the HP Spectre 360.
- It seems to get rather hot after extended use
- The Surface pro 4 and Surface Book have much better quality screens
SHOULD YOU BUY A DELL LATITUDE 5285?
The Dell Latitude is a welcome addition to the 2-in-1 hybrid stable. It’s a premium quality device that offers excellent performance and build quality. However, it’s not perfect. Although the battery life is slightly better than the Surface Pro, it’s still a bit disappointing, especially when you consider the latitude only has an HD display.