Dell Lat­i­tude 12 7000

Tech Advisor - - Con­tents -

If one thing has helped Ap­ple get into the busi­ness lap­top game it’s be­cause its prod­ucts are sim­ply mar­keted – there’s ba­si­cally only three lap­tops to choose from. Dell has, in re­cent years, lost its once-firm stran­gle­hold on the busi­ness lap­top mar­ket and this may be down to its overly con­fus­ing range of prod­ucts.

What’s cer­tain is that if you, or your busi­ness, needs a lap­top to work on all day away from a plug, yet with a cer­tain ro­bust porta­bil­ity, then we can thor­oughly rec­om­mend the Dell Lat­i­tude 12 7000 ul­tra­book – de­spite it not hav­ing a catchy name.

De­sign

The Lat­i­tude 12 7000 is an ex­cel­lent mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the poweruser busi­ness lap­top. It’s black, with a matt fin­ish, and is pleas­ingly sleek given the pow­er­ful specs on show. It’s not the most lightweight lap­top on the mar­ket but at 1.26kg you’ll be able to slip it into your brief­case or rucksack and not no­tice it weigh­ing you down too much.

When open, the Dell mea­sures 310.5x215. 5x18.9mm, which is one of the most por­ta­ble pre­mium busi­ness lap­tops we’ve ever come across. It’s not as thin as the MacBook Air when closed but con­sid­er­ing it packs more ports and con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions, we don’t mind that.

The matt fin­ish means fewer fin­ger­prints and less ob­vi­ous dinks and scratches on the lap­top, while the metal de­tail­ing of the hinge be­lies its pre­mium price. There’s also a slot on the bot­tom of the unit for the op­tional dock con­nec­tor, which al­lows you to in­stantly hook up to a mon­i­tor when at your desk.

There are no creaks and give in the plas­tic frame here, and typ­ing at the full size key­board is com­fort­able for sev­eral hours of work when we were us­ing it with a raised desk stand. There’s also a fin­ger­print reader to the bot­tom right of the key­board. Un­for­tu­nately, we were un­able to test this as the func­tion re­quires ad­di­tional busi­ness soft­ware and in­stal­la­tion, but it’s great to see tech­nol­ogy that has grad­u­ated to smart­phones stay on lap­tops, where they were first seen.

The speak­ers are lo­cated on the un­der­side of the front of the ma­chine, but when on a desk this helps to am­plify the sound pro­jec­tion rather than muf­fle it. For ex­tended video watch­ing or long Skype con­fer­ence calls though, we’d rec­om­mend a de­cent pair of head­phones or head­set.

Con­nec­tiv­ity

When it comes to con­nec­tiv­ity, the Lat­i­tude 12 7000 re­ally shines. De­spite the re­cent in­sis­tence from con­sumers and en­ter­prises alike that cloud com­put­ing is the fu­ture, Dell has wisely en­sured that, aside from a CD drive, you’ll have ev­ery port you need for what­ever work throws at you.

The Lat­i­tude 12 7000 packs in a head­set con­nec­tor, mem­ory card reader, USB 3.0 con­nec­tor with Pow­erShare, SIM port net­work con­nec­tor, HDMI con­nec­tor, Dis­playPort, two USB 3.0 con­nec­tors, power in­put, se­cu­rity cable slot and an op­tional smart card reader. Ev­i­dently, you’ll have every­thing you need for ev­ery trip, pre­sen­ta­tion, down­load and more with this lap­top.

The sup­port for dual-band 802.11ac stan­dard Wi-Fi is also im­por­tant here, mean­ing the lap­top can process higher speed wire­less con­nec­tions as and when they are avail­able. To­day, lap­tops without this ca­pa­bil­ity built in are at a se­vere dis­ad­van­tage, and you’ll def­i­nitely no­tice the dif­fer­ence.

Key­board

As a lap­top de­signed for all-day work­ing, the Dell Lat­i­tude 12 ex­cels with its key­board and track­pad lay­out. This is one of the best lap­top key­boards we’ve ever come across; the keys are ex­cel­lently sturdy and re­spon­sive and have a sat­is­fy­ing feel to them. They are not flat but ever

so slightly con­cave, which helps with touch typ­ing as the edges of the keys are that bit more de­fined.

As this is a small 12in ma­chine there is no num­ber­pad (few lap­tops un­der 15in have them), but Dell has de­signed the key­board with ex­ten­sive ex­tra func­tion keys when the blue ‘Fn’ key is used. There’s a num­ber­pad, con­trols for vol­ume, screen lock and screen bright­ness as well as com­mands such as Home and End that are use­ful when word pro­cess­ing.

Our re­view unit’s key­board is back­lit, though this is op­tional at point of pur­chase. It only has two level set­tings and there is a de­gree of light spillage out the sides of the keys, but it does the trick if light is low in the room or on the tray ta­ble of a train or plane.

De­bat­ably, Ap­ple has per­fected the track­pad and un­for­tu­nately some­times ri­val lap­top track­pads can feel less re­spon­sive. Luck­ily, the track­pad on the Lat­i­tude 12 7000 is one of the bet­ter Win­dows lap­top track­pads we’ve used in the past cou­ple of years. It does opt for the more tra­di­tional two mouse but­tons un­der­neath the pad rather than hav­ing a me­chan­i­cal click be­neath the sur­face, but it doesn’t make in­put any slower. The mouse is ex­tremely re­ac­tive and there were no signs of screen lag.

Dis­play

The dis­play on the Lat­i­tude 12 7000 is a non-touch 12.5in LCD screen with an HD 1366x768 res­o­lu­tion. Along the wide top bezel when opened is a we­b­cam for con­fer­ence calls. In or­der to fit every­thing on the screen for work­ing re­quires the fonts to dis­play per­haps a tad smaller than is com­fort­able, but that is usual for ma­chines with smaller screens of this size. You can ad­just the size of texts and win­dows in the Con­trol Panel if needs be.

We are see­ing more and more busi­ness lap­tops with touch­screen func­tion­al­ity, but this par­tic­u­lar model does not have one. De­pend­ing on your pref­er­ence this is not nec­es­sar­ily a draw­back – in fact, un­less the de­vice is a 2-in-1 we of­ten pre­fer non-touch­screen mod­els. Of course, you can ig­nore the func­tion­al­ity if it’s there, but it can of­ten add bulk to the screen and fig­ures to the ask­ing price, so its ab­sence here is no bad thing. With a full PC oper­at­ing sys­tem, we much pre­fer us­ing a track­pad or mouse rather than jab­bing at the tiny icons with our fin­gers.

The bright­ness of the LCD’s back­light is highly ad­justable, and we were happy to type, browse and work away on the ma­chine for long pe­ri­ods. Given that the screen is LCD,it has a matte fin­ish, which ac­tu­ally tones down the bright­ness and sharp­ness of the dis­play some­what, un­like other ul­tra­books that have crisper but more neg­a­tively daz­zling back­lights.

Soft­ware

Our re­view unit came with Win­dows 7 Pro­fes­sional pre­in­stalled. This par­tic­u­lar oper­at­ing sys­tem launched in 2009 along, has be­come the Win­dows of choice for busi­ness users the world over, such was its clas­sic Mi­crosoft feel when com­pared to the over­thought, app-based mess that was Win­dows 8 and 8.1. On boot­ing up, we were prompted to in­stall Win­dows 10, and if you are a busi­ness owner look­ing to pro­vide your em­ploy­ees with a lap­top, then which oper­at­ing sys­tem you use will be your own ad­min­is­tra­tive de­ci­sion. There’s no charge to choose Win­dows 10 even though the free up­grade pe­riod has ended.

We did not in­stall Win­dows 10, but the ma­chine runs ex­cel­lently on Win­dows 7. If you’re a lit­tle un­sure of the dif­fer­ences be­tween the oper­at­ing sys­tems and want to find out more, here are some of our most use­ful ar­ti­cles on the topic.

Be aware that as with many PCs these days, you don’t get Mi­crosoft Of­fice for free. The pro­grams do not come pre­in­stalled and you’ll have to pur­chase a sub­scrip­tion. We’d rec­om­mend Of­fice 365 as it is a pay monthly, non-con­tract method of hav­ing the lat­est Of­fice soft­ware with con­tin­u­ous up­dates.

Per­for­mance

For the price, you’d ex­pect ex­cel­lent per­for­mance, and the Lat­i­tude 12 7000 de­liv­ers. Our model had the stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tions on of­fer for this range, which is an In­tel Core i5 pro­ces­sor (the 6300U to be pre­cise) 2.4GHz, with in­te­grated HD Graph­ics 520. There’s also 8GB RAM, which when paired with the i5 ab­so­lutely blitzed through an av­er­age work­ing day, with sev­eral Chrome tabs open along­side email, Spo­tify, Slack, and many other pro­grammes be­sides.

Multi-tab­bing be­tween Google Docs, Sheets and other third party pro­grammes was smooth with no no­tice­able lag un­less we had near to 25 Chrome tabs open at once. This is nor­mal stut­ter­ing for any ma­chine but in real-life use this is a slick-run­ning com­puter.

We ran stan­dard bench­mark tests on the Lat­i­tude 12 7000, along­side its sib­ling in the same line, the Lat­i­tude 14 7000.

Bat­tery life

We were im­pressed with what the Lat­i­tude 12 7000 can cope with when it’s away from a charger. In our bat­tery test run­ning a con­tin­u­ous loop of a film on Win­dows Me­dia Player, it lasted nine hours 24 min­utes, which is ex­cel­lent for a 12in ma­chine. You would, of course, get less with con­stant use and Wi-Fi con­nec­tiv­ity.

In day-to-day us­age, it also im­pressed, and us­ing it along­side a desk­top for gen­eral tasks saw it last two days away from the plug.

Ver­dict

The Dell Lat­i­tude 12 7000 won’t win any beauty con­tests but then again, for what it is de­signed to do it is very good. It is the small­est form fac­tor a busi­ness lap­top can take without any com­pro­mise on func­tion­al­ity and if you can af­ford the £929 ask­ing price, it’s a very good choice. Henry Bur­rell

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions 12.5 in (1366x768) LCD screen; Win­dows 7 or 10 Pro; 2.4GHz In­tel Core i5; 8GB DDR4; 128GB SSD; In­tel HD 520; Wi-Fi 802.11ac; Gi­ga­bit eth­er­net; Blue­tooth; 2x USB 3.0; Dis­playPort; HDMI; me­dia card slot; head­phone jack, mic; HD we­b­cam; 55Wh Lithium-ion bat­tery; three-year war­ranty; 310.5x215.5x18.9mm; 1.26kg

PCMark 8

Geek­bench 3

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