Latitude is Dell's business laptop brand, designed and manufactured mainly by Compal and Quanta.
The Dell Latitude is targeted for business use. This means that standardized parts are used throughout the line and are available for several years for support purposes. By contrast, the Dell Inspiron is aimed at the consumer market and its specifications change regularly. Whereas Inspiron may change vendors or components several times over the course of a single model, the Latitude line generally retains identical components throughout its production. This design is intended to simplify maintenance and support tasks for large corporations, allowing components to be easily swapped between models.
Dell Latitude computers are also built to Dell's RoadReady specification which includes a durable magnesium-alloy casing (though budget version D500/E5000-series Latitudes are mainly plastic), internal metal frames and Strike Zone shock protection in case the computer is dropped or suffers a severe impact. Many models also feature free-fall sensors or solid-state drives. Latitude models are also considered[weasel words] more durable and higher quality than the Inspiron line, and even above the premium Studio and XPS models. The Ultraportable 4-series and mainstream 6-series Latitude models have 3 year support, as opposed to the 1 year warranty on other models. The essential Latitudes retain the 1 year warranty of other products.But, this results in a price several hundreds of dollars higher compared to the consumer models.
Latitude computers are also differentiated in their feature sets, due to their business focus. For example, they often include security features such as smartcard and contactless smartcard, and TPM security, which are not needed by most consumers. A lid clasp (as opposed to a magnetic latching system), DisplayPort video out (as opposed to HDMI), and support for legacy standards are all results of the requirements of the business market.
Some models also have the capability of Latitude ON which can be selected during the configuration of the laptop. Latitude ON is essentially a system within a system. It requires a separate add on module which contains its own microprocessor and Operating system. This allows the laptop to function in the realm of a Netbook.
The primary competitors to the Latitude series are the Lenovo Thinkpad line and the HP Elitebook line, both of which offer similar business oriented features and durability of the Latitude line.