Ultrabooks are, in a word, cool. They’re slim, flashy, and lightweight, yet they’re rather powerful and offer users a laptop that can do it all in a form factor that begs to be touched and carried around (especially if it’s a convertible ultrabook, in which case the unit can double as a high-powered tablet).
Business-class laptops tend to be the opposite. With all due respect, business machines are often almost comically boxy and dull, offering the bare essentials in terms of looks and performance. While it’s true that a fleet of plain yet somewhat rugged mid-range notebooks makes perfect sense in terms of TCO and lifecycle management, you’re already bored just reading those words.
Dell has certainly put out its share of solidly economical if uninspiring business-facing notebooks over the years, but some of its latest machines are just as sexy as any svelte ultrabook. The Dell Latitude 6430u ultrabook is somewhere in between.
Dell Latitude 6430u
Specifications & Features
Intel Core i5-3427U (1.8GHz)
Windows 8 Pro, 64-bit
14-inch HD (1366x768) LED backlit, WiGig capable
Intel HD 4000
Samsung PM830 mSATA 128GB SSD
8GB SDRAM DDR3-1600MHz (2x4GB)
Integrated HD video webcam and Dell Webcam Central software
Stereo headphone/Microphone combo jack
Integrated noise reducing array microphones
Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0
Starting weight: 3.7lbs /1.69kg (with 3-cell battery)
13.31 x 9.04 x 0.82 inches (WxDxH)
60Wh; 6-cell (removable), ExpressCharge capable
USB 3.0 (x2), USB/eSATA combo, RJ-45, VGA, HDMI,
headphone/mic jack, security lock slot, memory card reader
External DVD+/-RW drive
Intel Rapid Start and Smart Connect technology
3 Year Basic Hardware Service +3 Year NBD
Limited OS After Remote Diagnosis
$1,278 as configured (+$74.25 with the external DVD+/-RW drive)
Indeed, the 6430u is something of a tweener machine; based on its components, it’s certainly an ultrabook, but it’s not as sexy and slim and light as you might expect. However, it’s a far cry from the dull boxy affair that you’d expect from a traditional business machine, and it has welcome features usually found on more mainstream notebooks such as a removable battery.
Even the specifications are somewhat middle-of-the-road, though they’re by no means mediocre; there’s an Intel Core i5-3427U (1.8GHz) chip inside, Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics, and the 14-inch LED backlit display offers a resolution of 1366x768 (but there’s no touch input capability). The memory and storage configurations are a little more high end, as the Latitude 6430u boasts 8GB of DDR3-1600MHz SDRAM and a zippy 128GB mSATA SSD.
There are plenty of ports, including two USB 3.0 (one on each side of the computer), a USB/eSATA combo port, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA, and HDMI. There’s also a headphone/mic combo jack, a security lock slot, and a memory card reader that’s just a little difficult to access.
The primary intended use for the eSATA port is the external DVD+/-RW drive that’s included with the machine, which is a most welcome accessory for users that don’t want to give up having an optical drive but also don’t want one weighing down the ultrabook.
WiFi 802.11b/g/n is on board, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, and although our review unit wasn’t equipped with LTE capabilities, that is a configuration option users can select. The Latitude 6430u also supports WiDi, which is a feature certain to come in handy in the business world.
What makes the Latitude 6430u a business machine, though, is its manageability and security. Dell offers Intel vPro technology, Trusted Platform Module protection, and Dell Data Protection/Encryption, in addition to remote access, battery, and BIOS management capabilities. Further, whereas some ultrabooks are locked down tight, these Dell ultrabooks have an easily removable battery, and after taking out two small screws with a Phillips screwdriver, you can gain unfettered access to the guts of the system as well. They’re also fairly rugged machines, which is something we’ll get into on the next page.