The Dell Latitude Z is the concept car of Dell's notebook line-up, with innovative technology not found elsewhere.

While Dell has built a reputation around supplying workmanlike business laptops, the Dell Latitude Z totally bucks the trend of chunky slab-like professional notebooks.

More of a technology showcase product, the Dell Latitude Z adds some truly innovative features to lift this stylish notebook far from the corporate crowd.

The headline features include a very slim profile – at 20mm, the slimmest 16in notebook anywhere, according to Dell – along with wireless battery charging, and a wireless connection to an external docking station. And that station can connect to a second monitor.

Despite the large 16in screen, the Dell Latitude Z still has its sights on the ultraportable category. It may be almost 40cm wide and over 27cm deep, yet it manages to keep the weight down to 2.1kg.

This is acheived in part by forsaking an internal optical disc drive, favouring an external DVD or Blu-ray drive.

Our sample included the BD unit, available for £81 extra in place of DVD±RW. It can read Blu-ray discs as well as read and write DVDs and CDs.

Unusually, this slot-loading drive connects to the Dell Latitude Z’s combination eSATA/USB port, and takes its power from this connector too. Unlike eSATA ports, its hot-swapable, so you needn’t reboot the computer just to access discs after it's plugged in.

Also on the right side is a DisplayPort connector for digital connection to an external monitor, and a second USB 2.0 port. Tucked away on each rear angled corner are the power inlet (left) and an ethernet port (right).

Dell Latitude Z

The Dell Latitude Z is incredibly slim for a 16in screen design

So far, so conventional. But you don’t have to use that DisplayPort to hook up another monitor. While DisplayPort offers similar facilities as DVI and HDMI, most displays require an adaptor to connect.

An optional wireless docking station is offered (£160), which acts like a port replicator for connecting you to your home or office desk peripherals – all without cables to the laptop.

On this breakout unit are four USB 2.0 ports, headphone and mic audio jacks - and a DVI port for another display. So you can effectively extend that already large 16in 1600x900 display to a second monitor, wirelessly.

With the latest 802.11n wireless protocol, the data connection may be fast – but not quite quick enough for full-screen video without some dropped frames. If you only need to view static content such as spreadsheets, though, this wireless display system should work flawlessly.

Continuing the wire-free theme, Dell also makes a wireless charging stand for the Dell Latitude Z. In profile this is a C-shaped folded metal support that lifts the Dell off the desk by a few inches, providing some space to store papers and folders below.

But its real trick is to power up and charge the Dell Latitude Z’s battery with no direct electrical connection. Instead it uses inductive coupling, just like an electric toothbrush charger. Simply place the Dell Latitude Z on top and it takes power through its stand, with no metallic contacts to engage.

See also: Group test: what's the best laptop?

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