Dell Latitude E7440 Ultrabook Review

Posted on 27 November 2013 By


Dell Latitude E7440 (5)

The Dell Latitude E7440 could be the most productive Ultrabook we’ve ever tested. Working fascia, speed, battery life, ports, options, the list of plus-points goes on, but only for certain versions.  Read on for a full review of this business-focused Ultrabook.

Dell Latitude E7440 Test Device Specifications

 

  • Production sample in test. (Not final retail build.)
  • Model DPN:GCp4P A00 (German keyboard layout)
  • CPU type: Intel Core i5-4300U (Haswell, VPro 1.6Ghz-2.9Ghz)
  • Graphics: Intel HD 4400
  • OS: Windows 7 Pro
  • Display Size:14-inch 1920×1080 (matt, non-touch)
  • Screen Type: LED-Backlit LCD
  • Backlit keyboard. Mini cursor keys. Trackpad, mechanical mouse buttons and track pointer.
  • RAM: 8GB
  • SSD: 128GB (Samsung SM841 mSATA)
  • Battery capacity: 34 Wh removable. (45Wh optional) with ExpressCharge.
  • Docking port
  • Weight: 1.63 kg /  3.6 pounds (measured with 34Wh battery)
  • Ports: HDMI (full size), Full SD card slot. USB3.0 x 3,  headset, Mini DisplayPort, Gigabit Ethernet, extended battery connector.
  • Wi-Fi/BT4.0 – Centrino AC 7260 AC/A/B/G/N dual-band 2×2 (up to 867 Mbps) with WiDi/WiUSB
  • Broadcom Smartcard Reader
  • VPro, Fingerprint Reader,
  • Webcam. Stereo speakers. Array mic.
  • Options include 3G, WiGig, Touch Display, Windows 8, HDD, TPM
  • US Version highlights MIL-STD-810G testing. (We assume the same standard of product is used globally.)

 

 

Price: 1239 Euro (with 47Wh battery) Equivalent US model: Latitude 14 7000 Series ranges from 999 to 1849 (pre configures models.)

Our Dell Latitude E7440 information page here.

First Impressions

With a slightly more ‘consumer’ look and feel compared to the Dell Latitude 6430u it may look better to some people but we felt it lost a bit of its business look. It feels solid and secure in the hand though and there are no creaks or rattles, the screen hinge feels extremely solid and the port selection on the rear gives confidence that this is going to be ready for nearly all connectivity situations.

The E7440 doesn’t feel as light and portable as many Ultrabooks but remember this is a 14-inch unit. First-boot to Windows 7 was a little disappointing to us in terms of time but it would be ‘quick’ for anyone coming from a Windows 7 hard drive laptop.

 

External Build, Ports, Ergonomics

The Dell Latitude E7440 is a solid unit that’s slightly thicker than some Ultrabooks. The advantage of that is that Dell were able to pack in a lot of ports. Across the back you’ve got HDMI, Mini DisplayPort (no eSATA port as on 6430U) and two USB3.0 ports. On the right you’ve got Kensington lock, USB3.0, headset and a physical wireless on/off switch. That can be useful in some situations to ensure the lowest battery drain or provide a flight-mode on Windows 7. On the left-hand side you’ve just got the fan output, the SD card slot and, if it’s fitted, the Smartcard reader. Stereo speakers are on the front/bottom and on the bottom you’ll see the docking port and removable battery. (Not hot-swappable as on, for example, the newer Lenovo Thinkpads.)

Dell Latitude E7440 (14)

Dell Latitude E7440 (15)Dell Latitude E7440 (16)

More images in the gallery.

Docking Options

With the WiGig option, the Dell Latitude is one of the few PCs to be able to offer a cable-less docking port. In Europe the docking port D5000 costs a hefty 218 Euros but you should get transparent connections to 3 USB3.0 ports, a DisplayPort, Mic-in,  HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet. We haven’t tested WiGig bit it’s designed for this purpose and we would expect it to outperform any USB3.0-based docking solution.

If you prefer the physical style of docking, which will include power, the E-Port docking solutions fit. For example the 150 Euro E-Port II model with USB3.0, USB3.0/eSATA, Ethernet, Audio, VGA, DVI, DisplayPort and power.

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Working fascia (Keyboard, screen,mouse)

The keyboard is a gem. It’s big, backlit, has separate touch pointer and mechanical buttons which might attract those that are disappointed by the button-less trackpad on the new Lenovo Thinkpad range. The keyboard had a bit of flex around the J and K keys which is a build-quality issue to watch out for in our opinion. (See section on rear-panel access to find out the reason for the flex.) In use though, we found the keyboard productive and very stress-free to use. There are four backlight levels.

Above the function keys you’ll find separate volume control buttons and the power button. (As this isn’t a convertible, all buttons are hidden within the clamshell when the screen is closed.)

The touchpad is a very accurate multitouch unit.

 

Dell Latitude E7440 (3)
More images in the gallery.

The screen, a 14-inch 1920×1080 unit with matt finish, was bright and sharp. Color seems very good to our eyes and viewing angles are excellent. We can’t comment on the touch-screen version but it will be glossy and heavier. The 1366×768 model we briefly tested had a poor, washed-out screen unit and in our opinion doesn’t do justice to the Latitude brand. For business uses that 1920×1080 matt non-touch version is likely to be the best choice.

 

Rear Panel Access

It’s very easy to get to the inside of the unit and it seems there are many user-upgrade opportunities. Simply remove the battery and unscrew the two screws on the top-left and top-right in the battery bay. (Not the ones marked ‘P’)

WP_20131126_22_37_20_Pro

 

Swapping an HDD for a 2.5” SATA SSD should be easy, dropping in an mSATA drive, additional memory and, worth noting, dropping in a 3G card because the antenna is pre-wired. It’s very rare to see that. Here are images of a 4GB HDD version and an 8GB SSD version. Click to enlarge.

WP_20131126_22_40_02_ProWP_20131126_22_39_52_Pro

In the images you can see the configuration of the PCIe/mSATA ports. We suspect that if you choose SSD +3G/4G you’ll end up with a 2.5” SATA SSD and not the Samsung mSATA that is tested here.

With a thought on that keyboard flex we checked to see if the keyboard was tightly screwed down…and found a missing screw.

WP_20131126_22_43_51_Pro

by stealing a keyboard screw from the second E7440 we have here we were able to correct most of the keyboard flex. The products provided are samples so we suspect that they didn’t go through the same QC as production models but the issue will be passed back to Dell.

One more thing while were in the battery bay because it’s here you’ll find the 3G/4G SIM card slot.

WP_20131126_22_40_26_Pro

UPDATE: Video overview – E7440 internals available here.

 

Security and Other Features

We are not equipped or qualified to test the security features on the Dell Latitude E7440. VPro / AMT, Fingerprint Reader, SmartCard reader, TPM and Dell security software are available. Some of the required Dell ControlVault software wasn’t pre-installed on our sample either so although we tried to test the fingerprint reader, we couldn’t get through the training process.

 

  • Intel Smart Connect: Not tested
  • Intel WiDi / Wi-USB/Miracast : Not tested
  • Software: Dell Backup and Recovery, Dell Protected Workspace, Dell System Update, Intel Rapid Storage, Intel Anti-Theft (requires registration with 3rd-party), Dell Power Manager
  • Express Charge: Not fully tested but it appears to be around 2% charge per minute (on a nearly empty battery.) Note, this appears to increase heat and cause the fan to turn on more often.

Continue to Page 2 of the review.

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  1. #1 by JAkub on November 27, 2013 - 13:49

    This machine looked quite boring and useless to me. But if you can really put 16GB RAM, mSATA SSD and SATA HDD in it, it can make an nice powerhouse for someone who needs to do some serious IT development on the go. There are not so many ultrabooks which can do that.

  2. #2 by guy on November 27, 2013 - 22:04

    That’s a big difference in power consumption for video playback. Did you verify DXVA was being used on both OS’s? What was the CPU usage during playback? Were both using the same version of WMP (not sure if newer versions of WMP can be installed on Windows 7)? I’d use MPC-HC myself. Why no browsing power consumption comparison?

    Good WiFi is expected for a business notebook. Glad Dell didn’t sacrifice it in order to make it uselessly “sleek”. Then again, it does kind of look like a cheap Inspiron, oh well.

    I’m looking into the 12″ version myself but it doesn’t have a trackpoint. I may get it when my work notebook reaches its required replenishment date soon. I currently have a ThinkPad but Lenovo decided to go towards a consumer direction for their new line up and my IT department may not even buy them. I wouldn’t choose the newer ThinkPads for my relenishment anyway.

    Does the E7440 allow you to set battery charge thresholds?

    Thanks for the review.

  3. #3 by Joe on November 27, 2013 - 22:14

    I thought Intel lets only laptops with touchscreen be called Ultrabooks(tm)?
    (for the record, i don’t think touchscreen should be a requirement, but with haswell it is)

  4. #4 by me on November 27, 2013 - 23:08

    The Windows 7 vs 8 power consumption comparison seems too be big. The idle comparison isn’t much different but the video playback is ~2x. For the same software and hardware decoder, that’s surprising. The majority of the processing should be done with the hardware decoder which is the same on both OS’s. On my Ivy Bridge notebook, decoding a High 10 Profile, Level 5.1 1080p video using only software decoding only uses 10 W – 15 W of power. That’s almost the same as the Windows 7 test that I assume is using hardware decoding.

    Also, the browsing test is missing for Windows 8.

  5. #5 by jke on November 28, 2013 - 01:32

    The missing screw is funny – because I had a similar experience (twice, actually) with a UK dealer for refurbished Dell laptops (where screws on the hinges were missing).

    Else, I just wish they’d put a nice screen on these 14″ devices. Oh well…

  6. #6 by alex on December 5, 2013 - 18:10

    Hello,

    This review is very useful and the video as well.
    Could you also show how you close the rear panel after you have open it?
    As easy it is to open, as difficult it seems to close it; by 1-2mm I can’t put the screws in both parts.

    Thank you in advance.

    • #7 by Steve Chippy Paine on December 5, 2013 - 21:19

      It was just as simple to close it. The rear slots in first, then it lays flat and the screw holes should match. I dont have it here anymore unfortunately as it went back to Dell.

  7. #8 by Jeff on December 7, 2013 - 02:28

    Maybe you should create a new article tag: user-upgradeable. That’s a pretty major feature for ultrabooks.

    • #9 by Jeff on December 7, 2013 - 02:31

      Maybe even sub-tags like upgradeable-ssd, upgradeable-msata, upgradeable-ram, upgradeable-wwan, upgradeable-battery, replaceable-battery, etc.

      • #10 by Steve Chippy Paine on December 9, 2013 - 01:13

        i try to put relevamt tags in. Even more i try to put these features into the database. I will look to improve it and expose it. Search at google for “upgrade site:ultrabooknews.com” could help in the meantime.

  8. #11 by Murali on December 17, 2013 - 11:42

    FAN is ON most of the time and quite noisy. It is really annoying., I’m using Win7.

Comments are closed.