Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC Release and Our First Thoughts

by Reads (58,795)

It’s finally here. That is right, the Latitude XT Tablet PC is available now. Dell’s first Tablet PC has been the talk of the Web for months and today is the day Tablet enthusiasts have been waiting for. The XT looks like a solid tablet and as soon as we get our review unit in the next few weeks, we will bring you our full hands-on review.


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The Latitude XT is being marketed toward business professionals, thus the reason it is so thin and light. The XT is packed full of features that are sure to please anyone, the only caveat is that Dell left out an optical drive to keep it thin — there is an optional Media Base if you need that though. The Latitude XT sports either a 1.06GHz Core 2 Solo ULV processor or a 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo ULV processor. The XT also has a touchpad and a track stick, so navigating around on this tablet should be easy.

The Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC specs:

  • Core 2 Solo 1.06GHz ULV processor or Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz ULV processor
  • ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 integrated graphics
  • 1GB DDR2 SDRAM – 3GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Hard drives: 1.8" 4200 rpm 40GB or 80GB, 1.8" 5400 rpm 120GB or 32GB and 64GB SSD
  • 12.1" WXGA (1280×800) display with option of LED-backlit (220 nits) or Outdoor viewing (400 nits)
  • Touchscreen and digitizer pen input
  • Mobile Broadband with EVDO Rev A service through Verizon Wireless or Sprint
  • Dell Wireless 802.11a/g/n
  • 10/100/1000 Ethernet
  • Optional Bluetooth
  • 54mm Express Card
  • 3 x USB ports
  • SD Card slot
  • IEEE 1394
  • VGA-15 pin
  • RJ-45
  • Optional media slice for docking
  • OS: Microsoft Vista Ultimate, Business or XP Tablet PC Edition
  • Batteries: primary battery is 4-cell or 6-cell and then there is the secondary 9-cell slice battery
  • Weight: LED panel model with 4-cell battery: 3.57 lbs. Outdoor model with 6-cell battery: 4.1 lbs
  • Dimensions: LED panel 1"H x 11.7"W x 8.6"D

Dell is trying to change the tablet scene around with the XT and its dual-mode digitizer technology that is supposed to offer improvement in tablet usability. The XT uses the N-trig digitizer technology, which supports both pen and touch input, while improving accuracy and using less power.


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The XT is the perfect travel companion considering it is lightweight and the 45W power adapter is very light as well. The battery life is claimed to last an entire work day or around 9.5 hours with the battery slice. Even the media base is portable for those of you who have to have an optical drive. The pen even comes with multiple tip options so users can customize their own writing experience. Road warriors and college students are rejoicing.

The Latitude XT is available now with prices starting at $2,499. For more information check out Dell’s website.

First Thoughts Based on Hands on with the Dell Latitude XT

by Andrew Baxter

I had the opportunity to get some hands on time with the Dell Latitude XT during a meeting with Dell last week and wanted to share a few thoughts.

First of all, kudos to Dell for taking their time and really researching the market before jumping in. They could have quite easily taken the existing Latitude D430 ultraportable notebook, added tablet functionality and shoved it out the door to sell as their entry into the tablet market. But instead they spent well over a year experimenting, interviewing, contemplating and designing to reach what is today the Latitude XT. The XT is not at all like any of the other Latitude line notebooks in its form factor or chassis design. It has been designed from the group up as a Tablet PC.

There are two different Latitude XT Tablets, one has an outdoor screen with 400 nits of brightness and the other a thin LED backlit screen. The form factor difference between these two is actually quite large. When I picked up the 400 nit outdoor viewable screen tablet I was initially disappointed with the XT thinking to myself "great, another heavy Tablet". But the outdoor screen is really designed just for those out in the field that are used to carrying a lot of heavy equipment — think oil field exploration workers or utility company field engineers. When I was handed the LED backlit screen XT the weight felt significantly less (half a pound less) and thus I was relieved. The XT with the LED screen is also much noticeably thinner, it’s definitely the version of choice for most of us business folks.

The pen itself is quite unique. It had a good amount of heft to it and was easy to grip, the squarish shape was a little odd but nothing I noticed while writing as it is rounded where you grip it. The cool thing is Dell offers different interchangeable pen nubs that change the feel of how you write on the screen. There’s a nub that gives the feel of ballpoint and another that provides a felt-pen feel. Dell knows it’s sometimes the little things that make a difference, and providing a choice here is fantastic.


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The keyboard is something to note, it is once again quite different feeling to other Dell Latitude keyboards. The keys are quite flat, had good travel and were not as clicky as a typical Dell keyboard. It actually felt a lot like the keyboard on the HP 2510p / 2710p and had the same kind of coating to make keys more resistant to wear. The touchpad and trackpoint navigation means you have just about every type of input imaginable. You can move the cursor with the touchpad, trackstick, pen or your finger.

 


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One of my favorite features of the Dell Latitude XT, which many will find odd, was the power adapter. I don’t have a picture to show and wish that I did, you wouldn’t believe how small it is! I literally had to keep holding the smaller than a pack of cards size adapter and weighing it up and down to believe how light it was. It’s by far the smallest power adapter I’ve seen in any notebook or Tablet PC, and it’s thrilling to see an ultraportable design finally consider the power adapter as part of the parcel in the weight concern.

The hinge that sticks out might strike some people as odd (this is seen most distinctly on the bottom view image). However, it made for a perfect place to grip the tablet when you’re in slate mode, and was designed as such. It’s definitely strong enough that you can just grip it with one hand, added texture ensures ease of hold.


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When rotating into tablet mode the screen automatically rotates to landscape, just as any Tablet PC does. You can then use the screen rotate button if you want to orientate the screen differently. There’s no built-in accelerometer like the ThinkPad X61 Tablet and Apple iPhone use to automatically orient the screen with the way you’re holding it. That’s one feature I would like to have seen to make this closer to the ultimate tablet. Also, when in Tablet mode there’s no latch design to pin the screen down to the base, this isn’t totally necessary since the hinge mostly holds the screen down via resistance, but when I forcibly shook the XT I was able to generate a bit of play between the screen and the keyboard to show it wasn’t totally secure.

 


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In terms of ports I can’t see how Dell could have fit much else into this little guy. If you want more ports and an optical drive, you can get the media base with a DVD+/-RW for $170. The overall thinness of the base is great, I’m glad Dell went with a ULV processor so that they could make the profile as slim as possible.


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I wish I could go on more about the Latitude XT, but I only had a limited time with. Plus the product tour was done over dinner so I didn’t want to get the screen too greasy! We’ll be getting a Latitude XT to review soon and cover more of its features, the good and the bad, but I’m happy to say it’s mostly just good.


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