Dell Latitude 7285 2-in-1 review
The Dell Latitude 7285 2-in-1 is a business hybrid that attempts to merge the best bits of tablets and laptops. It has an ultra-stiff keyboard like a good laptop, but also a detachable tablet part with a high-resolution display and a narrow surround. While it has a shot of desirability most business laptops lack, limited battery life and connectivity narrow the appeal of the Dell Latitude 7285 a little.
Price and availability
Dell makes five key variants of the Dell Latitude 7285.
All use Intel’s ultra-low power Y-series processors, but the CPU power, RAM and storage varies. The entry-level Dell Latitude 7285 has a Core i5-7Y54 CPU, 8GB RAM and a relatively small 128GB SSD. It costs ?1193 (?1432 inc VAT) with the keyboard and Active Pen stylus. Our review model has a faster i5-7Y57 chipset, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. It costs ?1603 (?1924 inc VAT).
The top-end Dell Latitude 7285 has a Core i7 Y-series CPU, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. Those upgrades push the price up to ?1,873 (?2248 inc VAT) with the keyboard and stylus. Unlike most of Dell’s Latitude laptops, the 7285 comes with a 3-year ProSupport next-day on-site warranty as standard.
Buying direct from Dell this can be chipped back to a one-year warranty for a saving of ?111.
Design and build
The Dell Latitude 7285 is a great example of a business hybrid with no-compromise build. It looks plain and practical, but is exceptionally well-made.
Its screen part uses a magnesium shell with a tough rubberised coating.
Squared-off edges make it feel a little chunky in-hand, but the Dell Latitude 7285 tablet is only 7.25mm thick. The keyboard is mostly plastic rather than metal, but is very rigid, and uses a stable magnetic mechanism to attach to the screen. Metal teeth reach up into the display part for a surer connection.
Tablet and keyboard together weigh 1.35kg. While substantially thicker and heavier than the 12in MacBook, the Dell Latitude 7285 comes across like an executive hybrid take on that ultra-portable concept. With the Dell Latitude 7285’s “clamshell” closed, it seems almost armoured.
Unlike most business laptops, the Dell Latitude 7285 has jumped straight into the new world of USB-C.
There are no full-size USBs. Dell includes a USB adapter in the box, but our one was faulty: be sure to check yours. In place of larger USBs the Dell Latitude 7285 has two USB-C ports, both specced to the ultra-fast Thunderbolt 3 standard.
This provides 40Gbps bandwidth, eight times that of USB 3.0.
There’s also a headphone jack and Noble security port. Under a little plastic flap on the side of the tablet sit microSD and SIM card slots.
Ultra-fast USB-C ports allow connection to a desktop dock, turning the Dell Latitude 7285 into the brains of a desk setup. However, it’s clearly primarily a roving portable computer. Yet another up-to-date extra, the front camera has an IR sensor, used with Windows 10’s Hello feature to login with your face.
This can often be a hit and miss process, but the Dell Latitude 7285’s hardware seems among the fastest we’ve seen yet, with virtually no delay involved.
Keyboard and touchpad
Dell makes a few different keyboards for the Dell Latitude 7285. One has an extra 22Whr battery. Another doubles as a wireless charging receiver when paired with Dell’s dedicated wireless charging dock.
However, we’re using the vanilla keyboard. It’s a sturdy keyboard with fairly long travel to the keys for comfortable long-form typing.
The Dell Latitude 7285 has among the chunkiest typing feel found in a hybrid.
There’s also a two-level backlight behind the keys. Below the keys there’s a very smooth textured glass trackpad, with two buttons built into the surface. This is a keyboard base built to a much higher standard than that of almost any hybrid or tablet accessory.
The one limitation is that it only lets the screen tilt back by around 110 degrees, which is likely because any further would make the Dell Latitude 7285 tip over.
This hybrid has a non-wide 3:2 screen like the Latitude 5285. It’s a very high-resolution 2880 x 1920 LCD with superb performance all-round. It covers 99.6% of the sRGB colour gamut, and including the tones it renders outside of the standard it actually represents 108.3% of sRGB.
This wide gamut display lets it handle 76.2% of DCI P3 and 71.7% of Adobe RGB, which is unusually good for any laptop, let alone a business one.
Outdoors visibility is also excellent. The Dell Latitude 7285 has an anti-reflective coating, taking the edge off the reflections on the glossy surface, and max brightness of 443 cd/m is very powerful.
This is a portable laptop you can use in bright sunlight. Contrast of 1169:1 is also very high for an LCD, combining with the great colour performance to make videos look excellent. Of course, the non-widescreen aspect leaves big black bars at the top and bottom when playing movies.
When purchased through Dell, the Latitude 7285 comes with an Active Pen stylus. This uses Wacom technology to provide 2048 pressure sensitivity levels. It’s a battery-powered stylus, but an AAAA cell will last for up to six months.
Most portable laptops use Intel U-series Core processors.
The Dell Latitude 7285 has one of Intel’s Y-series ones. These are lower-power processors with a much lower base clock speed than normal Core CPUs, but also a fast Turbo mode. This provides performance comparable with a U-series chipset, although the idea is you’ll use Turbo in relatively quick bursts rather than all day long.
To be clear: you don’t switch to Turbo manually, the Dell Latitude 7285 uses it automatically as needed.
Our laptop has the Intel Core i5-7Y57, which has a base clock speed of 1.2GHz and a 3.3GHz Turbo. Benchmarks show its burst performance is similar to that of a standard Core i5.
The Dell Latitude scores 2704 points in PC Mark 10 and 7004 in Geekbench 4, very close to the score of the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S. However, it’s worth remembering this is the higher-end Y-series Core i5. The entry-level Dell Latitude 7285 will have at least slightly lower performance.
These Y-series chips are also worse at gaming and other graphics jobs than the U-series kind. The Dell Latitude 7285 manages 26fps in Alien: Isolation at 720p, down from 30-ish frames from a normal Core i5. This drops to 10.5fps at 1080p.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is not playable at any setting. It runs at an average 10.9fps at 720p and 2.9fps at 1080p, Ultra graphics.
The Dell Latitude 7285 is best suited to light jobs, with the odd spurt of something more challenging such as Photoshop image or video editing.
No matter the job the Dell Latitude 7285 remains silent because it uses passive cooling. There are no visible heat sinks, the warmth instead seemingly spread across the back of the tablet. This is an ultra-quiet hybrid.
Given the use of a low-power Y CPU, we hoped the Dell Latitude 7285 would deliver very good battery life.
But it doesn’t. It has a 34Wh unit, which is fairly small. When playing back a 720p video on loop it lasts 7 hours 19 minutes, at 120cd/m brightness.
This is less than the Microsoft Surface Pro or the Dell Inspiron 5289, a hybrid with a more conventional CPU but a less impressive screen. We’d ideally like to see a couple more hours of use between charges. However, when one of the keyboard options has an extra 22Wh battery, there’s an easy solution.
The battery is charged using one of the USB-C ports on the side. Like most other hybrids, the Dell Latitude 7285 has speakers built into the tablet part and cameras on both the front and back. The front camera has a basic but serviceable 720p sensor and the rear one an 8MP chip.
The back camera is nowhere near as good as that of a top-end consumer tablet or a good entry-level phone, and is prone to smearing of light sources. However, it’ll do the job for emergencies. The Dell Latitude 7285 also has fair-quality speakers.
Their tone is pleasant and there’s at least a hint of bass.
However, volume, power and soundstage width are all bettered by laptops with more conventional designs.