Dell Latitude 6430u review: A no-nonsense Ultrabook
Dell's thoughtfully designed Latitude 6430u brings Ultrabook stylings to the business class
The Latitude 6430u is at the high end of the size and weight class for an Ultrabook, but it's lighter and svelter than many other business-class notebooks. It also gets terrific battery life, doesn't burn your lap, and manages to work decently well with Windows 8 in the absence of a touchscreen.
Visually, the unit doesn't have the wow factor of some of the other Ultrabooks (Samsung's models come to mind), but as a white collar machine, the Latitude 6430u might not need the panache. That said, peek closer and you see good ideas and suave design decisions all around. The soft-touch cladding on the body brings to mind Lenovo's ThinkPad line, while the CPU heat exchanger grille at the rear of the unit recalls the Acer Aspire S3 -- no more Baked Lap Syndrome.
[ Check out these other Ultrabook reviews on InfoWorld: Acer Aspire S7 • Acer Iconia W700 • Lenovo X1 Carbon • Dell XPS 12 | Ultrabooks duke it out in InfoWorld's slideshow | Stay ahead of advances in mobile technology with InfoWorld's Mobile Edge blog and Mobilize newsletter. ]
In a break from typical Ultrabook design, the battery is removable. It's also huge -- half of the entire bottom panel of the machine -- and long-lasting. My Netflix rundown test delivered 4 hours, 45 minutes of playing time on the "high performance" battery setting. Note that one feature common to other Dell notebooks, the external battery life meter, isn't found here. (I miss it.)
Another feature vaunted by Dell is the spill-resistant keyboard and protective LCD seal. The former probably isn't spill-resistant to the degree of, say, the Lenovo ThinkPad T410s, which has drainage vents on the underside of the unit, but what we have here ought to keep off the occasional coffee slosh. The keyboard is also pleasantly reminiscent of the ThinkPads: a spacious layout, full-motion key action, and good tactile feedback. I also appreciated having actual, distinct F keys, as opposed to functions being invoked via a special key plus one of the number keys. My only gripe: The Home and End keys are up at the top, instead of down near the arrows and PgUp/PgDn keys. Why?