The Latitude Z is Dell’s brand new ultra-thin laptop. In terms of shape and size it’s aimed squarely at the MacBook Air.
Although one runs Windows and the other Mac OS X, both are excellent platforms for office applications, web browsing and email.
In fact, two have even more in common because both come with a fair chunk of open-source software. The Latitude Z’s Windows software is augmented with a complete Linux subsystem to provide quick access to mail and the web.
Housed in an ultra-slim case, Dell says the Latitude Z is aimed at business execs who want the very latest technology.
One of the first things people notice is the wafer thin design – the Latitude Z is just 2.5cm tall. In comparison, the MacBook air is just under 2cm tall.
Both models feature in wide-screen format displays. The Latitude Z’s beautiful 16inch 1900-by-900 wide-screen display stands out from the crowd. But the MacBook Air has a more compact 13inch 1280-by-800 pixel panel. Both are very desirable options.
But the main thing setting the Z apart from much of the competition are its wireless charging and docking capabilities.
Ultra-Wideband wireless docking options are brand new and a joy to use. Simply place the Latitude Z within a couple of meters of its docking station and the two are joined together by a high speed wireless link. Gone are the days of fiddly connectors and strange mechanical locking levers.
Wireless charging is also a leap forward from messing around with awkward plugs. Just pop the Latitude Z on top of its charging base and it will begin recharging, no bother, no fuss.
Another really cool feature is the Latitude ON module. This is an entire Linux subsystem that works alongside the main Windows environment. As the name suggests, Latitude ON needs only a few moments to activate, making it a very convenient way to check mail and browse the web while you’re out and about.
But the main thing about ON is that it’s extremely efficient in terms of energy consumption. Dell says you can expect days rather than hours of battery life from the ON module, which is great for people on extended trips away. Of course, the email software is compatible with Microsoft Exchange and all the popular IMAP, POP and SMTP mail systems; and the web browser works with just about any sites you could think of.
Whether the Latitude Z is a compelling alternative to the MacBook Air is debatable. But it certainly lets Dell sit at the same table as the MacBook Air. The Latitude Z may not have such a metal fabulous case, but it’s a beautiful package and a launch pad for several technologies that are new to Dell and currently missing from Apple’s range.