The Dell Latitude is one of the most enduring and successful business laptop lines in the PC market. First launched in 1994, the Latitude series spans nearly 30 years of continuous innovation and improvement. Let‘s take an in-depth look at the history of the Latitude, from the very first models in the 1990s to the latest iterations packing the newest tech.
A Brief History of Dell Latitude Laptops
The first Dell Latitude laptop was released in 1994 as the Latitude XP. It featured an Intel 486 processor running at 75 or 90 MHz, up to 36MB of RAM, 800×600 display, and weighed over 7 pounds. However, it impressed reviewers with its excellent battery life, full-travel keyboard, and innovative design like its removable lithium-ion battery. The Latitude XP established the blueprint for enterprise-focused Latitude laptops over the next decades.
In 1996, Dell released the Latitude XPi, upgrading to 133MHz Pentium processors and 16-bit color TFT displays. The Latitude XPi CD followed in 1997, adding an integrated CD-ROM drive. The final iteration was 1998‘s Latitude XPi PII, with faster 166-233Mhz Pentium processors.
Dell Latitude CP and CS: 1997-1999
In 1997, Dell moved to the "C-series" naming with the Latitude CP line. These models used new Intel Pentium MMX chips and added features like multimedia, Lithium Ion batteries, and options for larger 1280×1024 resolution screens.
The Latitude CS models succeeded the CP line in 1998. Improvements included even faster 233 and 266 MHz Pentium II options, along with modular expansion bays.
Dell Latitude L-Series: 1999-2006
The Latitude L-Series, first released in 1999, marked another major update. The models used mobile Intel Pentium III processors and later Pentium M and Pentium Dual-Core chips. Display resolutions went up to 1280×800, and DDR SDRAM memory up to 2GB became available. Some models also had discrete ATI Radeon graphics options.
Key L-series models included the Latitude C400, C500, and C510. In 2006, the final L-series Latitude D531 and D531N shipped with Core Duo processors.
Dell Latitude D-Series: 2003-2007
The 2003 Latitude D600 kicked off the durable and versatile D-series. These models ranged from ultraportable 12.1" models to desktop replacements up to 17".
Intel Pentium M processors were standard, with higher end models getting new Core Duo and Core 2 Duo chips. Screens went up to 1600×1200 resolution, and DDR2 memory up to 4GB was supported.
The D620, D630, and D830 were popular mid-2000s models, beloved for their balance of performance and mobility. The final D-series was 2007‘s Latitude D630 before the switch to E-series.
Dell Latitude E-Series: 2007-2017
The Latitude E-series debuted in 2007 and showcased LED screens up to 1920×1200 resolution. They used Intel Core 2 Duo, i3, i5, and i7 processors with support for DDR3 memory. Models like the Latitude E6400, E6410, E6420, and E6430 were enterprise favorites.
Innovations in the E-series included optional discrete graphics, solid state drives, backlit keyboards, HDMI output,fingerprint readers. The E-series spanned nearly 10 years before being replaced in 2016-2017.
Current Generation: 2017-Present
The current generation of Latitudes launched in 2017 with 7000-series models like the Latitude 7480. They featured Intel 7th gen Core i5 and i7 processors, up to 32GB DDR4 RAM, PCIe NVMe SSDs, and 1080p touch and non-touch displays.
Dell moved to 8000 and 9000-series naming with 8th gen Intel processors in 2018. Today‘s lineup includes the Latitude 5300, 5500, 7300, 7400, and 9000 series with 11th and 12th gen Intel Core i5/i7 CPUs.
Options include 4K OLED touch displays, 5G connectivity, up to 64GB of RAM, discrete Nvidia RTX graphics, and Rapid Charge Express.
Latitude Naming and Models Over the Years
Throughout its history, Dell has used changing naming schemes for the Latitude line:
1994-1998 – Latitude XP, XPi, and XPi CD
1997-1999 – Latitude CP and CS
1999-2006 – Latitude CPi, C400, C500, and C510
2003-2007 – Latitude D400, D500, D600, D620, D630
2007-2017 – Latitude E4200, E5400, E5500. E6400, E6410, E6420, E6500, E7240, E7440
2017-Present – Latitude 5000 series, 7000 series, 9000 series
Within each generation, Dell offered Latitude models ranging from ultraportable 12-13 inch notebooks to 15-17 inch desktop replacements and workstations.
More recent additions include 2-in-1 hybrid tablets like the Latitude 5300 and 7400 2-in-1. The Latitude 9000 models compete with top-end business laptops like ThinkPads and Elitebooks.
Dell Latitude Pricing and Configurations
Dell Latitudes span a wide gamut of pricing tiers based on their specs, size, and target market. Here‘s an overview of pricing across new and refurbished models:
Entry level – Lower end Latitude models like the Latitude 3330 start around $550 new. Refurbished older models can be under $200.
Mid-range – Most mainstream Latitude configs with Core i5, 8GB RAM, 256-512GB SSD range from $900-$1500. Latitude 5000 and 7000 series are in this tier.
High-end – Latitude 9000 and 7000 models configured with Core i7, 16GB+ RAM, 512GB+ SSDs, and discrete graphics run from $1600 to over $2000.
Refurbs/Used – Owing to their corporate life cycles, refurbished and used Latitude models are widely available often at major discounts. A refurb Latitude E6430 with SSD may cost under $300.
Within each pricing band, there are numerous component choices that affect cost:
CPU – Core i3 on the low end, up to Core i7 or Core i9 for top configurations
RAM – Typically 8GB to 16GB for new models, expandable to 64GB on some
Storage – From 500GB HDDs on refurbs to 1TB+ PCIe NVMe SSDs on latest models
Display – Entry level 1366×768 HD to 4K UHD OLED touchscreens
Graphics – Integrated Intel UHD to Nvidia T1000/RTX discrete GPUs
When purchased with corporate discounts, even high-end Latitude models can represent excellent value compared to consumer flagships. Easy upgrades down the line also help maximize useful lifespan.
Why Dell Latitude Laptops are Popular
There are several key reasons Dell Latitude laptops have maintained strong enterprise and business market share over the decades:
Durability – Latitudes use heavier duty metals, stronger plastics, sturdier hinges, and pass military-grade durability tests. This ruggedness allows them to withstand challenging work environments.
Serviceability – Easy access panels and modular components make Latitude laptops easy to upgrade and service yourself over years of use. Dell‘s corporate support services also facilitate maintenance.
Compatibility – Dell works closely with corporate IT departments to ensure new Latitude models work seamlessly with existing device management platforms. Backwards compatibility is a priority.
Security – Latitude laptops offer enterprise-grade security features like TPM modules, SmartCard readers, fingerprint sensors, and self-encrypting drives to protect corporate data.
Support – Dell offers on-site warranty repairs, accidental damage protection, 24/7 phone support, and custom BIOS/imaging services for large Latitude deployments.
Value – Corporate discounts allow companies to acquire Latitudes for much less than comparable consumer models. And older Latitudes have excellent value in refurbished secondary markets.
For office workers, business travelers, and large corporate deployments, the Latitude continues to deliver the right mix of budget-friendly price, durable and secure design, long battery life, and business-centric features.
Dell Latitude Reviews and Benchmarks
Let‘s look at reviews and performance for a few standout Latitude models over the years:
Dell Latitude D630 (2006) – This 15-inch Latitude flagship wowed reviewers with its fast Core 2 Duo performance, bright 1280×800 screen, HDMI output, and lightweight 4.9 pound chassis. NotebookReview gave it an Editor‘s Choice award, praising its keyboard, connectivity, and optional discrete graphics.
Dell Latitude E6410 (2009) – The 14-inch Latitude E6410 brought benchmarks up to speed with Intel Core i5 processors and DDR3 RAM. CNET scored it 8.3/10 for its comfortable keyboard, responsive trackpad, speedy performance, and stellar battery life. It was rated as one of the fastest business laptops available.
Dell Latitude E7470 (2015) – This slim 14-inch Latitude weighed just 3.4 pounds but still packed a punch with 6th gen Core i5, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, and 1080p screen. It benchmarked faster than the leading Lenovo ThinkPad T450s while lasting over 10 hours on a charge.
Dell Latitude 9510 (2020) – Dell‘s flagship 15-inch Latitude boasted 10th gen Core i7 vPro CPUs, up to 64GB RAM, 5G connectivity, and a 4K touch display with 516 nits brightness. Reviewers were blown away by its 15+ hour battery life despite its thin and light chassis.
Should You Buy a Dell Latitude in 2022?
For business, school, or productivity usage, a Dell Latitude continues to be an excellent choice in 2022. Here are a few scenarios where a new or refurbished Latitude makes sense:
Budget Business Laptop – Refurbished Latitude E6430s and E6440s can be had around $200-$300. Upgrade the RAM, add an SSD, and you have an affordable machine for office work.
Student Laptop – A new Latitude 3330 with 10th gen Core i3, 8GB RAM, and 256GB SSD gives students a durable and affordable machine for around $550.
Road Warrior – Latitude 7000 series like the 7420 offer the perfect mix of lighter weight (3 lb), 10+ hour battery life, and business ports like RJ-45 Ethernet for frequent travelers.
Power Business Users – If you need workstation-class performance for engineering, coding, analytics, or research, the high-end Latitude 9000 series has the sheer muscle to deliver.
Enterprise Deployments – IT admins can configure thousands of consistent Latitudes with custom images, asset tagging, advanced security, and enterprise management.
Of course, Latitude laptops may not be the best choice for gaming or creative work like video editing that needs strong graphics. But for general business computing, the enduring Latitude line is still going strong after nearly 30 years for good reason.