The Dell Latitude 6430u is a solid well-rounded device that offers the performance business users need on the go.
The Dell Latitude 6430u is an exemplary business notebook. It offers the sleek and elegant design expected of an ultrabook with the steady performance business users need. Add in the machine's comfortable keyboard and touchpad and users have a device that delivers functionality and comfort on all levels. Admittedly the mediocre 14-inch display leaves a bit to be desired especially at the machine's $1,500 price point (price at time review was written). Nevertheless, the great build quality and strong performance levels of this device make it strong choice for users who value productivity first and foremost.
Build and Design
Similar to other business class devices, the Dell Latitude offers a classy, but understated design. The black matte finish of the chassis provides a professional aesthetic with a textured touch that makes handling and holding the device a pleasure. As an added bonus the matte finish proves to be extremely resistant to fingerprints ensuring that the device stays pristine even while on-the-go. Accompanying the matte finish is a silver magnesium alloy trim that spans outlines bottom half of the chasses and lower back panel. The silver metallic band provides a nice contrast and helps to provide more of the traditional flare expected of an ultrabook.
Measuring at 13.31" x 9.04" x 0.82" and weighing in at 3.91 pounds the Dell Latitude 6430u isn't the slimmest ultrabook on the market, but it's still easy enough to transport and the textured design of the chassis makes carrying the device a breeze. Despite its slim frame the Latitude also appears quite durable. Both the bottom half of the chassis and the display hold up to pressure quite well, only giving when extreme pressure is applied. Additionally, while the display does give to force no noticeable rippling occurs on screen.
As an ultrabook it should come as no surprise that the Dell Latitude 6430u is not friendly to those upgrade/customize the notebook. However, it should be noted that there is at least an external optical drive option for those interested.
Ports and Features
The Dell Latitude 6430u won't blow you away with its port selection, but the device offers all of the basic connectivity that users need. More importantly all of the ports are well spaced and easy to access, as the device makes use of its entire surface area.
Left: Power Jack, VGA Port, USB 3.0, audio jack
|Right: USB 3.0, Ethernet Port|
|Back: eSATA/USB 3.0 Combo Port and HDMI Port|
The right side of the device offers a USB 3.0 and an Ethernet port. The left side offers a power jack, VGA port, another USB 3.0, and a combined microphone/headphone jack. Additionally, the on the back panel of the device there is also an eSATA/USB 3.0 combo port and a full HDMI port.
Screen and Speakers
There's nothing inherently wrong with the Dell Latitude's display, but at $1,500 user may find it lacking. The 14-inch IPS display offers a standard 1366 x 768 resolution, and manages to provide a clear picture with adequate color contrast. Additionally, the display offers generous viewing angles allowing multiple users to view the display simultaneously. In Particular the device offers wide horizontal viewing angles, with little to no distortion well past 150 degrees. Vertically the display is far less forgiving as pushing the display forward will quickly cause the image quality to diminish, though the display fares much better when it is pushed backwards.
The most noticeable issue of the display is its lack of surface area. At 14-inches with its standard resolution the display struggles to house multiple applications at once. With the Dell Latitude offering such strong multitasking performance, it's unfortunate that the display cannot take full advantage of the machine's capabilities. While the display is serviceable, users who want optimum productivity will be best served by an external monitor.
Considering that the display was lackluster, I was surprised to find that the Dell offered relatively high quality audio. The machine offers two speakers located above the right and left edge of the keyboard and a third speaker bottom right side of the chassis. While testing various types of music and in my general use of the device, the speakers held up beautifully with little to no distortion. Even when the speakers are pushed at 100 percent capacity the audio quality remains pristine. Notably the speakers don't offer a great deal of base or treble, but they do manage to provide consistent audio that should more than suite the average user's needs.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The Dell Latitude 6430u offers an excellent full Chiclet style keyboard, complete with backlit keys and independent volume controls (located above the functions keys). The keys provide a smooth textured feel with a slight indent that allows users to cup each key with their fingers for added friction. That combined with its solid key compression and responsive tactile feedback allows users to type comfortably with assurance and accuracy. Finally, the spill-proof design helps to bolster the machine's durability, ensuring that users will have a pleasant typing experience for a long time to come.
The Dell Latitude's touchpad matches comfort of its keyboard. The machine offers a generously sized touchpad with two mouse buttons located below the pad and three buttons located directly above it. The touchpad (which uses Alps drivers) offers responsive controls that accurately read user input with little to no lag. Additionally, as with other Dell notebooks users will be able customize the touchpad with Dell's software adjusting the sensitivity and programming additional multi-finger gestures to fit their needs. The adjustable settings allow the touchpad to better conform to the user providing an even greater level of comfort.
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