Dell’s Latitude Z is quite an amazing notebook, not only because of its headline price, but because of the range of features it packs and its somewhat quirky physical design.
Let’s start with that latter point. The back edge of the casing has a strange angular look which isn’t much in the scheme of things but which gives this notebook, along with its black cherry lid colour, a real wow factor.
It is a large notebook at 396.4mm wide, 272.2mm deep and 14.5 – 20.1mm thick, and it weighs a rather heavy 2.0kg. That size means there is room for a big screen. At 16-inches it is plenty big enough to function as a desktop replacement, and its 1600 x 900 pixels mean it can easily display two documents at once. We even managed to work with three documents opened at the same time.
An ambient light sensor alters the display brightness depending on surrounding lighting conditions, which is a nice touch. On the right bezel is a touch panel. Tap a rectangle at the bottom of this side of the screen and you can then use the bezel to launch a range of apps and services. When not used in this way the bezel doubles as a vertical scroller for Web browsing. Simple, but very effective.
A 2-megapixel webcam can be used for the usual video calling and for a couple of the special features of this notebook. One application works with it to scan documents to PDF, or business card data to Outlook. It is a little fiddly to use, but could prove handy. The webcam can also be set to lock the Latitude Z600 down if it can’t see a face, which might be a good security measure.
The touchpad has a little trick too. As well as incorporating vertical and horizontal scroll zones and some multitouch features such as pinch-to-zoom, if you sweep your hand over it, it will minimise all windows.
The keyboard is well made. Dell could have fitted in a number pad, and by choosing not to has allowed plenty of room for well spaced keys. There is even a fingerprint sensor to the right of the keyboard area. We had no trouble reaching full touch-typing speed. The keyboard is backlit making it easy to work in darker conditions.
General specifications are good, with two processor options. Intel’s Core 2 Duo SU9600 1.6GHz and Core 2 Duo SU9400 1.4GHz are both available. As well as Windows 7 the notebook runs Dell’s Latitude ON operating system, a quick boot alternative that gives you access to email, the web, contacts and calendar.
Wi-Fi and HSDPA are supported, and memory is catered for by SSDs with up to 256MB of storage. We’d have liked more capacity and would have settled for a mechanical hard drive. We’d also have liked an optical drive but there isn’t one.
Ports and connectors are minimal, too, with two USB ports, Display Port, headset and Ethernet being all you get. A wireless docking station (£162 plus VAT) is an option if you want more. You can also buy an inductive wireless charging station for £244 plus VAT. That’s claimed to be a first for a laptop, but to be honest it is bulky and it does need to be plugged into the mains itself. We can’t see the point, really.
Battery life disappointed us with just over two hours of video playback from the 4-cell standard battery. But that’s less important here than it might be with a notebook you would be likely to carry around all day.
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