New Details Put Dell Latitude Chromebooks In Their Own League

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New details have emerged showing just how far ahead of other Chromebooks the forthcoming Dell Latitude Chromebook Enterprise devices will be when then land starting tomorrow. The new gadgets were officially unveiled earlier today alongside major changes to Chrome OS administration and a new enterprise program for the platform.

Dubbed the Dell Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise and Dell Latitude 5300 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise, both devices are already well ahead of the curve. That's in terms of both pricing and specs. But the new information, revealed via a hands-on by Digital Trends, suggests that was just the beginning. These are devices that are built to stand almost all other current Chromebooks in every way.

Rather than continuing to aim for the mid-range and premium markets or only make minor internal changes, Dell's new Chromebooks are fresh from top to bottom.

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Design & durability decisions – Dell Latitude Chromebook Enterprise

The most notable new information all pertains to the external aspects of the new Dell Latitude Chromebook Enterprise devices. Among those details is the fact that Dell is mimicking its work with Windows in terms of design quality and build features.

To begin with, the trackpad with both new Dell Chromebooks features two physical buttons rather than relying on pad-based clicks. It's not immediately clear how separated left and right mouse buttons will work in Chrome OS. All other Chromebooks right now utilize a click or two-finger click of the entire trackpad. There is no "right" click.

At the very least, the buttons might make it easier to utilize click-and-drag functions among other mouse interactions. It may also pave the way for new features or improve functionality in other ways.

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The standard square USB Type-A ports found in the two laptops are fairly standard in many Chromebooks. Conversely, the ethernet port and full-sized HDMI port are entirely different. Typically, one or more Type-C port with display-out capability is included, requiring a new USB cable.

Meanwhile, mobile connectivity in the two devices won't rely on newer eSIMs either. Instead, a SIM drawer is part of the package for easy switching between networks and providers without the added hassle eSIMs can bring.

Last but not least, as expected, these gadgets are going to borrow the overwhelming majority of their design cues straight from their Windows-based counterparts. That includes testing to 17 MIL-STD specifications. It also means the inclusion of a carbon fiber lid and reinforced hinges. A spill-through liquid-resistant keyboard is part of the design as well.

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Where does this fall short and what was already known?

The biggest shortfall — so far — for these devices is in their screen brightness. Dell's new devices fall below competing devices like the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 at 260 nits or Acer's Chromebook 13 at 282 nits. They do rise above the average for Chromebooks in general but against Pixel-branded devices, things only get much worse.

The 14-inch Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise has a display brightness of just 225 nits. Its 13-inch 2-in-1 counterpart hits a more useful 255 nits. Contrasted against the Google Pixel Slate and Google Pixelbook, its no competition at all. The latter two gadgets have max screen brightness set at 337 nits and 421 nits, respectively.

The 14-inch Dell Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise and 13-inch Dell Latitude 5300 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise have screen brightness set at 225 nits and 255 nits.

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Either device can, on the other hand, be configured with up to an Intel Core i7 processor. That's coupled with up to 32GB of DDR4 memory, setting the devices well apart from other Chromebooks. Each device stands almost entirely alone in their use of NVMe storage, available at up to 1TB of space. The PCI-E-based solution is enterprise-ready and significantly faster than the eMMC storage found in standard Chromebooks.

Setting aside newly introduced built-in enterprise security and solutions without the need for added licensing, both fall below any price point that might be expected too. The smaller of the two start out at just $819 while the 2-in-1 gadget is available from just $699.99.