Even though the 6430u can ship with Windows 8 as one of its OS options (ours did), it doesn't come with a touchscreen. Like other Win8 business notebooks we've seen, it partly compensates with a multitouch touchpad. I was grateful to note that Win8-specific touchpad actions (swiping from right to activate the Charms bar, for instance, or swiping from left to switch apps) have far less of a hair trigger than I've experienced on other machines. For those not fond of the touchpad, an in-keyboard pointing stick can also be used, another nod toward ThinkPad-style design.
The business-class features on the inside are also impressive. A self-encrypting 256GB SSD comes standard, as does TPM and Intel vPro management hardware. Optional features include fingerprint and smart-card readers, although our model didn't ship with these, and WWAN connectivity for all major providers in the United States (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon) and other countries, too.
Dell has wisely avoided shoehorning too much of its own software into the system. Aside from the system backup manager and the touchpad tray app, the only other Dell program that calls attention to itself is the Smart Settings tray application. This lets you toggle three modes that affect both battery life and general system behavior: Outdoor Mode (bright display), Presentation Mode (no screensaver or other distractions), and Video Mode (similar to Presentation Mode).
The Dell Latitude 6430u isn't the flashiest Ultrabook on the market. True to its intended audience of workaday professionals, it's a well-designed and well-built laptop that gets excellent battery life and is a pleasure to use. It's a great choice for anyone whose first priority is getting things done.
Dell Latitude 6430u at a glance
|Price||Starts at $899 MSRP ($1,278 as tested)|
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3427U @ 1.7GHz|
|Storage||256GB SSD (self-encrypting)|
|Weight||Starts at 3.7 pounds|
|Dimensions||Height: 13.31 inches. Width: 9.04 inches. Depth: 0.82 inches.|
|Display||14.0 inches HD @ 1,366 by 768 pixels|
|Battery||3-cell (36Whr) or 6-cell (60Whr) lithium-polymer|
|Ports||1 Ethernet, 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 3.0/eSATA combo, 1 VGA, 1 HDMI, 1 SD MMC slot|
|Radios||802.11a/b/g/n wireless, Bluetooth 4.0, Dell wireless mobile broadband solutions also available|
|Touch UI||Multitouch touchpad only|
|Management features||TPM, Intel vPro, optional smartcard reader, optional fingerprint reader|
|Sandra 2013 score||4.616kPt|
This article, "Dell Latitude 6430u review: A no-nonsense Ultrabook," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments in computer hardware and mobile technology at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.
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