First there was the iPad. Then Microsoft’s Surface came along and showed you can do real work on a tablet. Or, at least, some people can. The hybrid laptop-tablet design is either the best of both worlds or the worst, depending on what you need to do.
Whether you love them or hate them, hybrids are here to stay, and Apple and Microsoft are no longer the only players. New Dell Latitude 7320 joins the surface line and Lenovo ThinkPad X12 (review to come) to complete a growing field of options. The new Detachable Latitude is handy most of the time, but it doesn’t offer anything the Surface didn’t already.
The best of both worlds. May be
The appeal of the hybrid laptop-tablet gadget, at least as the Surface has defined it, is that you get a tablet with your laptop. The underlying assumption is that the Hybrid is first and foremost a good laptop, and this is where the Latitude outperforms the Surface.
It’s about as close to a copy of the Surface Pro 7 as you can get it without trial. A small divergence is a kickstand that supports the screen, arguably the crowning glory of the Surface. Dell’s version ends up being slightly less stable the more you position the screen vertically. I’ve rarely noticed it on a daily basis, but if you have the screen upright enough in your lap, it wobbles more than the Surface or the Lenovo.
Design-wise, the Latitude is very close to the Surface Pro 7, but with more rounded edges and slightly smaller bezels. As with his XPS Laptop Line, Dell has reduced the bezels to the point where you barely notice them.
The 13-inch, 3: 2 (1920 x 1280 pixel) IPS display is nice and bright but lacks the high-resolution crispness you get with the Surface (which packs 2,880 x 1,920 pixels in one. 12.3 inch smaller screen size). The Latitude’s screen does better with color, but unless you’re a creative pro, that probably won’t matter. The screen is one place the Surface wins, but it’s something you probably won’t notice without putting them side by side.
There isn’t much room for ports on these hybrid machines. The Latitude 7320 offers two Thunderbolt 4 compatible USB-C ports, one on each side of the display. This is a plus compared to the Surface, which does not support Thunderbolt. There is also (luckily) a headphone jack. There’s a model with LTE support that includes a slot for a micro-SIM, but otherwise the two USB ports and a headphone jack are all you get.
The Latitude 7320 features 11th Generation Intel Core processors. The model I tested has a Core i7 chip, 16 GB of RAM and a 256 GB PCIe SSD. Dell offers a wide range of options for the 7320. The lower end models use Intel Core i3 chips, and the mid-range is available with an i5. RAM options range from a paltry 4 gigabytes (not recommended) to the 16 gigabyte model I tested.