Dell Latitude 3340 review

Dell Latitude 3340
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
569
inc VAT

A decent student laptop with great build quality and fantastic battery life, but the Dell Latitude 3340 is a little expensive

Specifications

Processor: Dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U, RAM: 4GB, Size: 34x330x243mm, Weight: 1.8kg, Screen size: 13.3in, Screen resolution: 1,366x768, Graphics adaptor: Intel HD Graphics 4400, Total storage: 500GB Hybrid SSD

The Dell Latitude 3340 is a laptop targeted towards students and its impressive 9h 40m battery makes it a decent proposition for using all day when out-and-about on campus. However, it’ll also serve well as a work laptop for any task, thanks to its long battery life.

The phenomenal battery life is thanks to a large six-cell battery pack, which is rather thick and means that the rear of the laptop has a sizeable bump in it. This does have the positive side effect of angling the keyboard towards you, creating a comfortable typing angle.

The keyboard itself is very pleasant to use as well. Dell hasn’t tried to shoehorn in a numeric keypad, so all of the Chiclet-style keys are comfortably spaced with pronounced gaps between keys meaning we rarely mistyped. We would say the keys were slightly too spongy for our tastes, with a fraction too much travel, but it never hindered comfort and we could easily type a long document or dissertation without an issue. The only other minor annoyance was the skinny Enter key that was occasionally missed.

The keyboard is located within a recess in the 3340’s base and is also surrounded by a rubberised trim. The keyboard is splash resistant, so you shouldn’t have to worry about accidental spills, which should bring some peace of mind for the clumsy. We tested this by pouring a reasonable amount of water across the keyboard and were pleased to see it survived without any issues. This is something we wouldn’t recommend intentionally putting to the test, however.

There’s a pleasingly spacious touchpad for a 13.3in laptop and it’s as big as we’ve seen on some larger models. It is also spill resistant to match the keyboard. The material is suitably smooth enough to glide your fingers across without any problems but we found the dedicated mouse buttons rather spongy without a pronounced click to them. We imagine this is likely caused by the built-in spill resistance. We had no problems with clicks being registered and the buttons otherwise performed well.

For any fashion-inclined, the Latitude 3340 isn’t exactly the most stylish laptop we’ve ever seen, so you probably won’t catch anyone’s eye. It comes in a rather bland matt grey plastic with a rubberised trim around the edges. These are designed to offer some degree of shock absorption in case of drops, which is useful if you intend on carrying the laptop around all day.

The Latitude 3340 is powered by a dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U with a base clock speed of 1.6GHz but this processor can also boost to 2.6GHz under the right thermal conditions for a performance increase. This is paired with 4GB of RAM and there’s a second memory slot available if you want to upgrade towards the maximum supported 16GB.

In our application benchmarks, it managed an overall score of 45, which is about what we would expect for this processor. It’s a respectable score for the cost of the laptop and means the Latitude 3340 shouldn’t have any problems running most applications for work or school. We never encountered any problems with Windows 8.1 feeling sluggish.

Performance is partially helped by the 500GB hybrid SSD, which uses a mechanical disk to provide plenty of storage and a small SSD cache to boost performance of commonly used apps and regularly accessed files. In use, the laptop proved to open applications snappily, while it would boot and shut down quickly.

While this is a laptop geared towards working, you’ll get by with some very light gaming from the integrated graphics. In our Dirt Showdown tests we only managed 18.2fps at 1,280x720 resolution, 4x anti-aliasing and High graphics, which is too slow for a smooth experience.

The display’s hinge can be tilted all the way back so that it lies flat, supposedly to aid collaboration. In reality, the display’s viewing angles make this completely pointless as it’s simply not viewable when titled 180 degrees unless you lean directly over the screen.

The 13.3in display with a 1,366x768 resolution was one of the worst aspects of the Latitude 3340. In our calibration tests black levels were recorded at just 1.13cd/m2, which is below what we would expect at this price range and shows the display is incapable of showing deep blacks. Contrast ratio didn’t fare any better at a disappointing 233:1, and the anti-glare matte coating for the screen didn't help.

Glossy screens often have the better contrast although this is at the expense of a more reflective surface that can be problematic but we found the anti-glare coating made the display appear grainy. At least the 3340’s coverage of the sRGB colour gamut was about average at 58.8 per cent.

The Latitude 3340 didn’t perform well in our subjective tests, either. In our test images that included people, shadow details in hair just became a solid mass of colour with all of the detail lost. Blacks also didn’t appear as solid black and more of a deep grey, which was disappointing. Viewing angles both side-to-side and top-down were also poor with the display taking on a slightly red colour cast.

If you’re looking for a laptop with all-day battery life predominantly to be used for work, the Latitude 3340 is a more than competent choice. It’s slightly let down by its poor screen, which is a real shame but if your work doesn’t require accurate colours you’ll be able to get by. If you want better performance, and don’t mind sacrificing some battery life, the Dell Inspiron 15 5000 is a better choice.

Core specs
Processor Dual-core 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U
RAM 4GB
Memory slots (free) 2 (1)
Max memory 16GB
Size 34x330x243mm
Weight 1.8kg
Sound Realtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)
Pointing device Touchpad
Display
Screen size 13.3in
Screen resolution 1,366x768
Touchscreen? No
Graphics adaptor Intel HD Graphics 4400
Graphics outputs Mini DisplayPort, HDMI
Graphics memory Integrated
Storage
Total storage 500GB Hybrid SSD
Optical drive type None
Ports and expansion
USB ports 2x USB3
Bluetooth Yes
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11n (dual band) Wi-Fi
Memory card reader SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC
Other ports None
Miscellaneous
Operating system Windows 8.1
Operating system restore option Windows disc
Buying information
Parts and labour warranty One-year collect and return
Price inc VAT £566
Details www.dell.co.uk
Supplier www.dell.co.uk
Part number Latitude 3340

Read more