To the list of things men exaggerate – the size of the fish they caught (overstated), the length of their commute (understated), etc – I would like to formally add: how long they can keep their laptop going on one charge. Dell claims to have come up with the ultimate contender: the 14in Latitude 7400, which, it says – loudly in airport adverts – will keep going for 24 hours. Even if that were a best‑case scenario, it would surely be comfortably beyond the needs of any business traveller and it’s an attractive proposition for the long-haul flyer. I know in-seat power points are fairly universal now, but not having to take a charger aboard and have your machine physically tethered makes working on a flight a lot less fiddly.
Having seen the airport ads, and with two questions in my mind, I asked Dell to send over the 7400. Could it really work for 24 hours on a charge? And what was being sacrificed to make that possible?
My experimental methodology wasn’t simply to set the 7400 to play Stanley Kubrick’s three-hour Barry Lyndon again and again. I turned the screen brightness down to just under half, as you would in a semi-dark airliner cabin, and connected wired headphones, so the sound card was consuming power as well as the screen. The 7400 finally ran out of puff after just over 18 hours, or six Barrys. When I set the screen to near idle, as it wants to be, say, reading documents, it lasted an Olympian 34 hours.
So Dell’s claim does hold water. What’s sacrificed? Well, the 7400’s display isn’t the brightest at full throttle and the processor isn’t the fastest. And it’s expensive for a PC, although at the time of writing all the models were being heavily discounted from their mid-£2,000s prices. But it’s a serious business machine, especially in its hybrid, detachable-screen form.