Dell Latitude 3330 review

Reviews 20 Aug, 2013

The Latitude 3330 is aimed at small businesses and schools. Is the Windows 7 machine a perfect classroom companion or obsolete?

3
Price: 
£573 (£688 inc VAT)
Pros: 
Decent performance; Good battery life; Reasonable price
Cons: 
Dull design; Average screen; Middling build quality; Plenty of competition
Verdict: 
Dell intends its Latitude 3330 for small business and education, and its reasonable performance and battery life are good enough for these markets. The screen, build quality and design are all average, though, and the Latitude isn’t any cheaper than rivals.

Dell’s Latitude 3330 isn’t a flashy Ultrabook or a high-powered workstation – instead, it’s a more affordable machine designed for small businesses and educational establishments.

But in an era where small, versatile hybrids and beginning to dominant, is it still worth shelling out on a classic Windows 7 machine.

Build quality & design

The Latitude isn’t exactly a machine built to turn heads. It’s made of plastic and anodized aluminium, with the screen, sides and rear coloured in a lighter shade and the interior moulded with a darker gunmetal grey. It’s an old-school bit of design: a chunky hinge at the back, the base propped up by a protruding battery, and a maximum 33mm width mean this machine isn’t  Ultrabook material. It’s not as light as the average Ultrabook, either – it weighs 1.8kg.

The unfussy design is paired with middling build quality. There’s a little give in the wrist-rest and base, but the screen doesn’t inspire confidence. The join between the light plastic of the lid and the dark plastic of the bezel clicked awkwardly, and the whole panel flexed alarmingly when tugged and pulled.

The Latitude’s edges house a standard selection of ports. The right-hand side has two USB 3 ports, a D-SUB output and the Gigabit Ethernet socket alongside one headphone jack, and the left edge houses a USB 2 port, SD card slot and HDMI output. The AC adapter plugs in to the rear.

The Scrabble-tile, concave keys are comfortable, light and quick to respond to touches, but the keyboard’s base is far too flexible - it’s easy to see the glossy surface wobble under fast typing. The layout is fine, but we prefer the added reassurance of a stronger bass. The trackpad, too, doesn’t escape without criticism: the buttons are a little soft for our liking, and the pad itself is small.

The screen

The Latitude’s 1,366 x 768 resolution is what we expect from a 13.3in screen on a mid-range machine, and it’s fine for working – you’ll only run into problems if you need to run multiple applications. And, of course, Dell hasn’t fitted a touchscreen to this machine.

The Latitude’s measured brightness level of 223cd/m2 is average, and the contrast ratio of 273:1 isn’t bad – but the black level of 0.86cd/m2 is poor. The lack of deep black levels means that there’s little distinction between the darkest shades – and colours lack punch. The absence of vivacity is partnered with average accuracy because of the Delta E of 4.9.

This screen hasn’t got the resolution or the quality to be used for demanding work, but it’s capable of handling word processing, web browsing and other basic tasks – and we like its matte finish, too.

Specifications: 

OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
Processor: 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3337U
RAM: 4GB DDR3
Storage: 500GB Hybrid hard disk, 8GB flash
Screen: 13.3in 1,366 x 768 LCD
Connectivity: Single-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, Gigabit Ethernet
Ports: 2 x USB 3, 1 x USB 2, D-SUB, HDMI, SD card slot
Dimensions: 329 x 238 x 32mm (WxDxH)
Weight: 1.8kg
Warranty: 1yr RTB

Disqus - noscript

Badging this as part of the Latitude range is misleading - it's actually just a Vostro (their cheaper business laptop range), and as such doesn't work with the Latitude docking stations (it doesn't have the connector).

The Vostros are OK as far as budget business laptops go, but the build quality is noticeably poorer than the main Latitude range.

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