The 2-in-1/convertible computing concept has come a long way since the early nineties when the Compaq Concerto debuted. It didn’t take off immediately, only hitting critical mass back in 2011 when the revitalised form factor truly came into its own.
And since 2011 portable computing power has only increased: solid-state storage pricing has come down while capacities have shot up; super-fast DDR4 RAM is now the norm on every platform; and high-resolution touchscreens are common.
Today, companies that make ultra-compact, ultra-portable Windows 10 computers can cram a lot of value into a very small space, while delivering superb performance with all of the little extras that let users take full advantage of all of Windows 10’s portability features.
And since they have proven so popular for use in business, they’re even available with enterprise-class functionality that lets them integrate beautifully into any corporate environment.
Dell has worked hard to ensure its Latitude series of convertibles embody these values as much as possible.
We received two of their devices to play with, the Latitude 5285 and the Latitude 7389 – both beautiful machines designed for easy adoption into corporate environments.
They are quite different, however: the 5285 is a tablet computer that comes with an optional magnetic keyboard cover, while the 7389 is a true convertible in that it has a flexible hinge that lets it arrange itself in various configurations. They both embrace the 2-in-1 concept, just with their own approach that suits slightly different use-case scenarios and price points.
The 12.3-inch 5285 offers hardware that caters for everyone from entry-level to power users. In addition to a gorgeous 3:2 1920 x 1280 touchscreen, it offers a range of processors to choose from that run the gamut from Core i3 all the way up to Core i7, a maximum of 16GB of DDR4 RAM, as well as SSD storage options that range from 256GB to a 1TB NVMe drive. For ultimate security, the 5285 has the option of a 512GB PCIe NVMe self-encrypting SSD. The appeal of the 5285 is that it offers potential buyers quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to performance, security, and pricing.
At 13.3 inches, The 7389’s touchscreen is a little bigger, and it doesn’t offer Core i3 configurations – just i5 and i7. Base models ship with 8GB of RAM (max 16GB), and it offers the choice between a 256GB M.2 SSD or a 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD.
Performance, then, is excellent all round no matter which you choose; you definitely won’t be waiting around for Windows 10 to do stuff.
Both systems we had in the office ran Windows 10 Pro 64-bit, but they can also ship with Windows 10 Home 64-bit if joining domains and accessing terminal services aren’t in the user’s purview. Home shaves a bit off the devices’ pricing, too.
Form Factor FTW
Even though the underlying hardware is really good, it’s the form factor that gives these systems their core appeal for us. We loved the fact that the 5285 has a metal kickstand that folds flush against its body when it’s not standing on a flat surface, and being able to snap the keyboard on and off as needed when tablet mode was preferable to desktop mode was super handy.
The 7389, on the other hand, proved even more versatile with its foldable hinge that let us switch from tablet to desktop mode (and several in-between) in a matter of seconds. As nice as a detachable keyboard is, it’s just a little more convenient to simply fold an attached one into and out of position, and being able to place the device on a flat surface either tented, or angled screen up for easy viewing.
What’s up, dock?
There is only one major caveat with these two super-thin devices: they don’t have a lot of ports. In fact, they both only have USB Type C ports, which is a bit challenging for anyone who wants to connect external devices.
Sure, WiDi is baked into Intel processors, but people still like to connect physical screens, keyboards, mice, and other peripherals, and only having one (5285) or two (7389) USB Type C ports is a major obstacle to doing that.
Dell knows this, and has a solution: an external dock that connects over USB Type C that offers access to many of the most common ports. It doesn’t have a sexy name – you’ll find it listed as the Dell Thunderbolt Dock (TB16) – but its port selection more than makes up for it:
- USB 3.0 x 3 (2 front, 1 back)
- USB 2.0 x 2
- Thunderbolt x 1
- Gigabit Ethernet
- 3.5mm Headphone Jack
The TB16 dock connects to either device via a single USB Type C cable for easy hooking up to (and disconnecting from) a host of peripherals. Dell has you covered, then.
These devices are gorgeous to look at, fantastic to use, and their form factors both have their own appeal. Having them available in various configurations (and therefore price points) delivers what people want most in 2018 – options – and we’re very happy with that.
Give them a chance, and we’re all but certain these 2-in-1s will convert you.
For more information on either unit, contact the Dell team on 011 531 1000. The 5285 is available to order on request, and TD actively stocks the Latitude 7389 in two configurations.