The Dell Latitude 11 for Education has a utilitarian design that is meant more for protection than to show off. The entire chassis is made of black plastic with rubberized black edges for shock absorption, and the lid is unadorned, with the exception of Dell’s logo and an LED light.
The light glows to let teachers know when the notebook is connected to the internet, but there is no app to change the light’s color like there is on the Dell Chromebook 11. Raising the lid reveals the 11.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display surrounded by a thick, ugly bezel and an island-style keyboard.
The Latitude is on the heavy side for 11-inch notebooks, at 3.2 pounds and 11.9 x 8.4 x 0.9 inches. The 2.2-pound Lenovo IdeaPad 100s and 2.4-pound Aspire Cloudbook 11 (both measure 11.5 x 7.9 x 0.7 inches) are Windows machines that are far lighter, while the 2.6-pound Asus Chromebook C202 (11.5 x 7.9 x 0.9 inches) is also a featherweight in comparison.
However, Dell claims that the Latitude is MIL-STD-tested against drops, shocks and extreme temperatures, so it should be able to handle life in a backpack just fine.
The sides of the Latitude are lined with the bare-essential ports. On the left side of the notebook are an Ethernet jack, an HDMI output and a USB 3.0 port. On the right are a headphone jack, an SD card slot, a USB 2.0 port and a lock slot.
The 11-inch, 1366 x 768 display on the Latitude is dim. I had to pump up the brightness to view the screen comfortably when I watched the trailer for Doctor Strange. In the video, a sorcerer’s yellow cloak didn’t pop against gray buildings, like it does on better screens, and it was harder to make out the cracks and deformities around the evil Kaecilius’ eyes.
Dell’s panel has an average 269 nits of brightness. Other 11-inchers were worse, as the IdeaPad 100s (243 nits), Aspire Cloudbook 11 (250 nits) and Chromebook C202 (250 nits) were all even dimmer.
The Latitude’s display covers 66 percent of the sRGB color gamut, outperforming other 11-inch notebooks, including the IdeaPad 100s (62 percent), Aspire Cloudbook 11 (59 percent) and Chromebook C202 (58 percent).With a Delta-E color accuracy score of 3.8 (0 is best), the colors on the Latitude 11’s screen aren’t that precise. The Ideapad (3.3) and Chromebook C202 (2.8) had lower scores than the Latitude. Only the Aspire Cloudbook (3.9) was less exact with its colors.
Keyboard and Touchpad
I wouldn’t mind writing some research papers for class on the Latitude. The keyboard has a comfortable 1.6 millimeters of travel and requires 51 grams of force to press down, providing crisp feedback. I typed at my average 107 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, with my standard 2 percent error rate.
The 4.1 x 2.3-inch touchpad is smooth and accurate, and I had no issues moving windows around with two- and three-finger pushes and pulls.
The front-facing speakers on the Latitude get surprisingly loud for a laptop of this size. When I listened to Daft Punk and Julian Casablancas’ “Instant Crush,” the computer filled our midsize conference room with loud, clear sound. I could easily distinguish the bass, the synths, the snappy drums and Casablancas’ vocals.
I opened up the Dell Audio app to play with the MaxxSense Pro presets, but found that the default music setting was perfectly fine.
Here’s the rub: Everything good about the Latitude 11 can be dismissed, because this laptop is absolutely lousy for getting anything done. Our review unit — with its Intel Celeron N2840 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB, 7,200-rpm HDD — was incredibly sluggish. Even opening and closing individual programs produced a little bit of lag. Having more than one Chrome tab open at a time slowed the system down, making this a single-task machine at its best.
On the Geekbench 3 overall performance benchmark, the Latitude notched a score of 1,811, falling short of the IdeaPad 100s (2,195; Intel Atomn Z3735F CPU). The Aspire Cloudbook (1,285; Intel Celeron N3050 CPU) fared worse.It took the Latitude 2 minutes and 49 seconds to transfer 4.97GB of mixed-media files, which translates to a rate of 30.1 megabytes per second. The Ideapad 100s (31MBps) and Aspire Cloudbook (35MBps) were both faster.
The Latitude paired 20,000 names and addresses in our OpenOffice spreadsheet macro in 15 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s behind the Aspire Cloudbook (14:54), but faster than the IdeaPad 100s, which took 22:05 to complete the test..