When Microsoft released their Surface Pro series of convertibles, everyone seemed gobsmacked at the novel design that departed from the usual notebook form factor as it included a detachable keyboard and a rear kickstand to add some measure of slimness to the design while adding a surfeit of versatility in that it could turn into a tablet by simply detaching the keyboard. Dell’s Latitude 5290 2-in-1 harkens back to that form factor with their own embellishments to the design in regards to security and ergonomics.
Externally, the Dell 5290 2-in-1 is somewhat akin to the Surface Pro. Intended for business professionals, the notebook can function on its own sans the detachable keyboard as a tablet or docked with the removable keyboard to turn it into an ersatz notebook in tandem with the integrated rear flip-out kickstand.
Fortunately, it’s not a mere Xerox of the form factor and Dell has put some thought into the design as the rear kickstand, which has up to a 150-degree of motion, is able to open up on its own by holding it up vertically and pressing it down to activate the spring-loaded kickstand which allows for one-handed deployment. The stand itself is able to bend all the way down to a 150-degree angle, which allows for an extremely flat viewing angle. Even better, the stand itself, if on a flat surface, is rock steady with nary any wobbling whatosever.
Unfortunately, this minor improvement in ergonomics doesn’t quite resolve the inherent quirks of this form factor in that it’s optimised purely for flat and stable surfaces. Using it on your lap is somewhat of a risk of it wobbling or toppling over seeing the high center of gravity of the tablet portion as is anywhere else like a couch, bed or whatnot. If most of your computing is done purely on a desk or an in-flight tray on a plane, this oughtn’t be an issue.
General ergonomics issues aside, the Latitude configured for Malaysian markets is relatively well appointed as convertibles go. Clad in a nondescript matte gray finish, the Latitude 5290 isn’t particularly striking but this isn’t necessarily a downside in a corporate environment. Overall build quality is sturdy with the left side hosting a pair of USB Type C ports, a volume rocker, a type C port as well as a 3.5mm audio jack. The right side notably sports a smart card reader. The 12.3-inch touchscreen itself sports fairly thick bezels but has a matte finish, allowing for a degree of viewability under daylight or highly reflective scenarios like under overhead neon office lighting.
The keyboard itself is backlit, latches onto the tablet portion itself with a series of magnets and has a fairly large sized trackpad though the key travel is relatively shallow and bottoms out fast on the various keys. On the bright side, it’s relatively light, well built as keyboards go and is able to protect the display somewhat from nicks and scratches. Of particular value to road warriors is the light power brick used to charge the Latitude that is about the size of a deck of cards and is even lighter to boot. As far as notebooks go, the Latitude 5290 is typical of Dell’s corporate-issued hardware and is a fair balance of sturdiness and build quality in a fairly nondescript design.
Dell 5290 2-in-1 Specifications and Performance
In keeping with Dell’s other computing solutions for corporate concerns, the Latitude 5290 2-in-1 is configurable to some degree in terms of the battery, adapter, power supply, storage, RAM and processor. What remains common along all permutations of the notebook across markets is a rear-mounted fingerprint reader and Windows Hello facial authentication via the built-in webcam up front.
Our test unit came with a 12.3-inch Full HD touchscreen display up front that has a 3:2 aspect ratio, an eighth generation Intel Core i5-8350U 1.7GHz processor running Windows 10, Intel HD 620 graphics, 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD. Connectivity options are excellent, covering most eventualities including 2x2ac Wi-Fi, a pair of USB Type-C ports, a USB 3.1 Gen1 port and a card reader. The Latitude 5290 ships with the aforementioned detachable keyboard bundled though an optional stylus is also available if you have the need to annotate or doodle on documents.
Firing it up and landing into the home desktop took mere seconds and it was able to handle a host of the usual computing tasks including a dozen open Chrome browser windows, YouTube playing on the side and Word for Windows as well as Google Docs in an open browser window on the side without slowdown or faltering. It also managed a fair bit of photo manipulation as well without any discernible slowdown. To its credit, it also managed all this without cooking off and remained fairly cool even under heavy usage.
Alas, it’s ill suited for current-gen gaming or heavy pixel crunching but it’s otherwise more than powerful enough for its intended role for paperwork crunching. This is borne out through its good PCMark 10 score at 3,157 points, its somewhat poor PC Mark Time Spy V1.0 test score of 390 and its Geekbench single-core score of 3,738 and multi-core score of 12,835 which predicate it as a solid workhorse.
The display itself is responsive and precise, allowing for pinpoint touching and the stylus is a treat, allowing for a fairly skilled artist or ardent doodler to create some entertaining artwork. For movies and viewing other content, the display offered good colours and detail, which makes it handy for catching up on your Netflix backlog when on the go though it is slightly reflective under direct sunlight. One quibble though is the rather poor speakers which sound somewhat tinny; a pair of headphones may be your best bet.
Dell Latitude 5290 2-in-1 Price, Battery Life and Conclusion
When subjected to a modest work scenario with default screen brightness settings, Wi-Fi on and about half a dozen open windows with video streaming in the background for about 8 or so hours which is sufficient to crunch through the better part of a workday.
Prices vary somewhat depending on what configuration you order up though our unit was on the pricey side of things at RM5,656 for what it offers. While it has decent build quality and accomplishes its intended task well, this Surface Pro clone isn’t cheap and if you’re not dead set on its unusual form factor, there are more affordable options available.
What we liked Great display, easy to deploy kickstand, good build quality
What we didn’t Poor speakers, not cheap, kickstand uncomfortable to use on lap, display is a fingerprint magnet
We say Both portable and powerful, the Dell Latitude 5290 is a well appointed convertible that will hold any mobile worker in good stead though minor niggles in ergonomics means it falls short of greatness
Display 12.3-inch Full HD, 1920 x 1080 pixels
OS Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Processor Intel Core i5-8350U 1.7GHz
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620
Memory 8GB RAM/ 256GBSSD
Size/Weight 292 x 208 x 9.76mm (tablet only) / 857g (tablet only) | 1.3kg (with keyboard)