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Dell Latitude 5490 review: All business, all the time

Dell Latitude
Dell Latitude (Image credit: Windows Central)

Dell Latitude 5490

There's something about a good business laptop that you can recognize right away. Maybe it's that matte black plastic, or the fact that it's got that little extra bit of thickness that seems to telegraph to an IT department, "It's OK, I won't cost as much as you think."

Or maybe it's the exposed VGA port, the saving grace of many a road warrior who just needs to walk through a slideshow and doesn't want to have to deal with some newfangled connection that probably won't work the first time anyway.

That's the Dell 5X90 series. Or, specifically in my case, the Dell Latitude 5490. It's a working man's laptop, with options galore.

What you'll love about the Dell Latitude 5490

Ya know, sometimes you just want a laptop that is gonna get stuff done. That's the Dell Latitude series in a nutshell. And that's the 5490 in particular.

Dell dropped us the high-end of the batch. It comes in at close to $1,800, so you're going to need to make friends with your finance folks before requisitioning this guy. But it's loaded with options.

CategorySpecs
Form factorClamshell laptop.
Display14-inch FHD touch (1080x1920).
ProcessorIntel Core i7-8650U.
GraphicsIntel UHD 620.
RAM8GB DDR4.
Storage256GB SSD.
BatteryFour-cell 68Whr (barrel plug)
PortsThree USB 3.1, one USB-C DisplayPort, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet, SD card, and Smart Card reader.
Size0.8 inches (front edge) x 13.1 inches x 9.0 inches (20.3 mm x 333.4 mm x 228.9 mm).
Weight3.52 pounds (1.60 kilograms).

The Core i3-powered base model (with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB SATA drive) comes in at just $800. Remember, our top-shelf model cost more than twice that. So there's a lot of room in the configurations department.

But at the high end, it's the options that were damned exciting. It'd been a long time since I'd used an in-keyboard eraser-style pointing device thingy (with the left- and right-mouse buttons to go with them), and that's a feature I'd long missed. (It especially goes well with a touchscreen in Windows 10.) If I was only given a single option from which to choose, this would be it.

The rest of the keyboard is a decidedly Dell experience, and that's a good thing. There's hust enough travel and just enough wiggle to let you pound on the thing without worrying that it's going to fall apart on you.

This is also the sort of laptop you'll turn to if you need some serious security. Windows Hello is on board, of course, but there's also the option for a fingerprint reader, NFC-based Smart Card reader, and a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 201 Smart Card Reader tucked into the side. Windows Hello is the most casual one, of course, and I found it to be faster than the fingerprint reader. But, again, we're talking security, not convenience.

And it's a small thing, but I'm digging the prominent power button. There's no mistaking where it is or what it does.

The smattering of available ports is nicely placed as well. You'll find USB-A ports on both sides, as well as the back. There's a single USB-C port on the left. There are plenty of options for whatever it is you need to do, including docking.

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Dell Latitude 5490

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Dell Latitude 5490

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Dell Latitude 5490

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What you'll loathe about the Dell Latitude 5490

You know going into this that it's a business laptop; the old-school VGA port is the giveaway there. That means this also isn't the smallest or lightest thing around.

The speakers, while adequate in volume and overall muddiness, lack any sort of real bass. That's fairly disappointing when you consider the size of the chassis. But that's not the sort of feature that gets priority when you expect it to spend a fair amount of time in an airport lounge, right?

Honestly there's not much to "loathe" about this laptop. The bloatware? Fine — but find me a Windows machine that doesn't have to deal with that. If I had to pick nits, I'd say I'm not a fan of the power connector being on the rear of the machine. But then again I'm not a fan of barrel connectors anyway.

I could gripe about the plastic-feeling body, particularly given that the unit I'm using here costs as much as it does. But, again, that's a small gripe.

The bottom line on Dell's Latitude 5490

This is a serious business-type laptop. It's also not the most economical device out there in terms of price.

But if you're looking to configure a machine that'll get you through one of those 70-hour workweeks — I'm told those are still a thing for some folks — it'll fit you quite nicely.

See at Dell

Phil is the father of two beautiful girls and is the Dad behind Modern Dad. Before that he spent seven years at the helm of Android Central. Before that he spent a decade in a newsroom of a two-time Pulitzer Prize-finalist newspaper. Before that — well, we don't talk much about those days. Subscribe to the Modern Dad newsletter!

8 Comments
  • I think the wrong photo got uploaded. The second photo of the article is an Acer.
  • I came here to comment the same!
  • So do I.
  • 1080p screen that a huge win for business laptop 
  • Spy on the second photo is detected!
  • I dunno.....We could all play spec games, but I'm not impressed with the price points.  We use Lenovo E series Thinkpad notebooks.  An 7200 core I5, NVM 256GB SSD, 15.5" 1920x1080 runs $850-880.  You still have the eraser pointer, a trackpad, dual mouse buttons AND a keyboard with a number pad.  In the past, when we've trialled non-numpad devices, they got universal thumbs down becuase of the lack of numpad.  For us at least, "business notebook" fundamentally means one with a numpad.   A Lenovo I3 E Thinkpad similar to the Dell can be had for $650. We use these both for service techs in our repair shops as well as for general office, so they're plenty durable.
  • I'm aware that this is a so-called "all work and no fun" type of laptop, but this looks like a god damn relic from the fall of 1998. This is like that porn video you accidentally clicked, and now you can't forget what the hell you just witnessed, 
  • Looks almost identical to the latitude I bought in 2006.