Starting Configuration Price
More than 11 hours of battery life. Rugged, spill-proof exterior. Comes with Windows 10 Pro.
Lacks USB-C connectivity. Low-resolution screen.
- Bottom Line
Dell's Latitude 3189 2-in-1 is a Windows 10 Pro convertible laptop with long battery life and a durable build, but its middling performance and lackluster screen keep it from standing out.
The Dell Latitude 3189 (starts at $579, $609 as tested) is a 2-in-1 convertible-hybrid laptop designed with students in mind. It runs Windows 10 Pro, clocks more than 11 hours of battery life, has a speedy SSD for quick reboots and program launching, and its multimode hinge grants easy access to the system's touch screen. It's built tough enough to survive abuse from school-age children, and is competitive on battery life and price with the Dell Inspiron 13 7000 (7378), our current top pick for midrange 2-in-1 laptops. It falls toward the back in our benchmark testing, however, and its screen leaves a lot to be desired.
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Convertible Screen, Rugged Body
At 0.82 by 11.96 by 8.18 inches (HWD) and 3.16 pounds, the Latitude 3189 is the same size and weight as the Dell Chromebook 3189 2-in-1, which runs Chrome OS in an almost identical convertible laptop body. It's thicker than the Inspiron 7378 and other convertible laptops like the HP Spectre x360 13, but that's a side effect of its rugged construction. Regardless, it'll fit into just about any school bag, and is easy to carry from the classroom to home.
Thanks to its multimode hinge, you can flip the screen around completely to use the Latitude 3189 like a tablet. You can also use the system in Tent or Display mode to share the touch screen with classmates. One of the Latitude 3189's unique differentiators is its dual camera system. There is a 1-megapixel webcam centered above the screen for video Skype sessions, and a 5MP camera embedded in the space above the keyboard that faces outward when the laptop is in tablet mode, just like the one on your phone or tablet. Most convertible laptops only have one webcam over the screen for selfies and web conferences. Both cameras take adequate pictures and videos for school projects, though your student is likely to carry a better still camera on his or her phone. The system's two stereo speakers are located on the bottom panel, facing the user, and they produce clear, if otherwise unremarkable audio.
The black plastic body has rubberized bumpers around the screen and the bottom half of the clamshell, which helps protect it while being knocked around. The system is MIL-STD 801G certified to survive temperature extremes, humidity, drops from 30 inches, blowing sand and dust, and vibration. The keyboard and one-piece touchpad are spill resistant (though we don't recommend immersing the laptop in a sink or a bathtub), and the top lid is scratch-resistant. With all these protections together, this notebook should survive four years of high school or undergrad, and then some.
The 11.6-inch screen with 1,366-by-768 resolution is pretty common for laptops with smaller screens, matched by the Dell Chromebook 3189 and the Dell Inspiron 11 3000 Series (3179). The Asus Transformer Mini (T102HA) has a smaller 10.6-inch screen with a 1,280-by-800 resolution. This screen may be fine for younger kids, but college students will likely want to step up to the 1080p (Full HD) screen of the Dell Inspiron 7378.
Decent Connectivity and Storage
Connectivity is sufficient for a student. There's a headset jack and a Noble security lock port on the right side. On the left, you'll find a microSD card reader, an HDMI port, and two USB 3.0 ports. Notably absent is USB-C, but that should be fine for most students and younger kids who don't have state-of-the-art peripherals. 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Bluetooth 4.2 handle wireless connections. School administrators looking to bulk-purchase the Latitude 3189 or Chromebook 3189 should note that they are designed to be stored in a Dell-branded rolling cabinet for charging and storage in the classroom.
Memory and storage are adequate, considering the educational aim and pricing. The laptop as tested (and in its base configuration) comes with 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD. We prefer SSDs to hard drives because of their speedier boot and app launch times, which can come in handy during a 25-minute class.
The Latitude 3189 comes with Windows 10 Pro, a plus compared with Windows 10 S laptops like the Microsoft Surface Laptop, which requires an upgrade (currently free, $50 after 2017) to Windows 10 Pro to run any third-party apps not available in the Windows Store. The Dell also comes with a one-year warranty with mail-in service.
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Excellent Battery, Adequate Performance
Our test unit houses an Intel Pentium N4200 processor with integrated Intel HD Graphics 505. (That's an upgrade from the base model's Celeron processor.) It scored 2,033 points on the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test, average for the category. That's just behind the scores of systems with a Core m3 processor, like the Dell Inspiron 3179 (2,631) and the Lenovo Yoga 710 (2,451). The Insprion 7378 was the fastest overall, thanks to its Core i5 processor. The system performed better than average on multimedia tasks like Handbrake (3:47) and Photoshop (7:47), much faster than the Intel Atom-powered Asus Transformer Mini. The Inspiron 3179 and the Yoga 710 were a bit better for photo editing, both taking less than 7 minutes for Photoshop. Again, the Inspiron 7378 was the top dog, taking less than 5 minutes for Photoshop and just over 2 minutes for Handbrake. Gaming and 3D performance was slow for all five laptops listed here, but these systems aren't built for playing games more complex than Minecraft.
The Pentium N4200 processor may not leave its mark in our benchmark testing, but it certainly lends itself to commendable battery life. The Latitude 3189 lasted 11 hours, 30 minutes on our rundown test, many hours more than the Inspiron 3179 (6:29) or the Inspiron 7378 (7:45). The Yoga 710 was close (11:12), the Chromebook 3189 (11:39) lasted a bit longer, and the Asus Transformer Mini (14:14) is the endurance champion. In any case, the system should last an entire school day with plenty of power left over for homework in the evening.
Built to Last
The Dell Latitude 3189 2-in-1 laptop is built to take punishment, and that's its raison d'être. Its versatile screen caters to students working on individual and collaborative school projects, while its battery will last all day and then some. We prefer its long battery life and speedy SSD when compared with less-rugged laptops like the Dell Inspiron 3179. However, if durability and battery life are less of an issue for you (and you can stretch your budget a bit), the $799 Insprion 7378 is a better value overall, as it has a faster Core i5 processor, full HD screen, and has a larger-capacity SSD, and it holds on to its Editors' Choice for midrange convertible-hybrid laptops.
Other Dell 2-in-1 Convertible Laptops
Joel Santo Domingo is the Lead Analyst for the Desktops team at PC Magazine Labs. He joined PC Magazine in 2000, after 7 years of IT work for companies large and small. His background includes managing mobile, desktop and network infrastructure on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms. Joel is proof that you can escape the retail grind: he wore a yellow polo shirt early in his tech career. Along the way Joel earned a BA in English Literature and an MBA in Information Technology… More »
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