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Dell Latitude Z

Super-slim designer notebook, anyone?

Security features include a contactless RFID smart-card reader, fingerprint scanner and something called FaceAware that uses the 2Mp web cam and some facial recognition software to put the system into standby when you wander off for a leak and leave the Z unattended. This not only prevents anyone having it away on their toes with company secrets but also saves power. The web cam also does duty as a business card scanner that, used with the handy on-screen guide, proved to be pretty reliable.

Dell Latitude Z

Backlit keyboard and numerous other finger friendly refinements

Our review machine came with Windows 7 Professional 32-Bit, an Intel Core2 Duo SU9600 processor running at 1.6GHz, 4GB of 1066MHz DDR3 RAM and a 128GB SSD. Graphics are handled by Intel's integrated GMA 4500MHD GPU. As you would expect from anything carrying the Latitude badge, extra bits and bobs can be added to the Z.

If your pockets are deep enough you can have not one but two 256GB SSDs fitted. Conversely, if money is tight, the Latitude can also be had with a 1.4GHz SU9400 processor and 2GB of Ram. Wireless connectivity is comprehensive with 802.11n Wi-Fi accompanied by an unlocked 7.2Mb/s HSDPA modem – a standard SIM card slots in behind the battery – GPS and Bluetooth. Something that can't be specified is a 64-Bit OS, which may raise the odd eyebrow.

The Windows OS is supplemented by Dell's 'Latitude ON' which is a MontaVista Linux mini-OS running on a discreet Texas Instruments ARM chip that fires up in a little over 10 seconds from a button next to the main power switch. This lets you browse the web with Firefox or check your Outlook e-mail, contacts and calendar without having to wait for Windows to get its backside in gear.

As the PCMark Vantage numbers show, the Z is no powerhouse but it still handled all the tasks we set it with aplomb including playing HD YouTube streams at 1080p, as well as QuickTime film trailers and H.264 files through VLC at the same resolution. With a 3DMark06 score of 857 you won't be playing any hardcore 3D games at hi-res, but a little light gaming by way of executive relief won't be out of the question either. The video and gaming experience is enhanced by the stereo speakers tucked away in the front of the chassis which pump out a usefully powerful and composed sound.

Dell Latitude Z

Eyecatching design

The fly in the Latitude ointment is battery life. In regular use, a full charge for the standard 40WHr 4-cell power pack will struggle to give you much more than three hours. Give the Z something demanding to do – like playing a video at full screen with the screen brightness set to 11 – and you will be lucky to hit the two hour mark. The optional 80Wh eight-cell power pack improves things dramatically and will only set you back £24 but it's larger, heavier and wobblier than the standard pack and spoils the Z's svelte lines.

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