Dell has begun offering a tablet that targets business users. The Dell Latitude 10 offers features designed to appeal to those who want a tablet that's as powerful as a notebook, including Windows 8.
In a hands-on demo a few days ago, I put this device through its paces, and came away impressed.
Build and Design
The Latitude 10 hits the sweet spot for tablets -- not too big and not too small. The prototype I tried out fit well in my hands, especially with the soft-touch rubber coating.
I like that the edges are flat. When I hold my iPad upright for more than a few minutes its thin edges start to dig into my fingers.
As its name implies, the Latitude 10 has a 10-inch display -- it's actually 10.1 inches, and has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
This screen looks quite nice. Colors are strong, and the device offers a wide range of viewing angles. I couldn't do any serious testing in this preliminary look, though, so I can't tell you how it looks in direct sunlight.
I did a bit of typing with the on-screen keyboard. I found this to be par for the course -- it's about as good as any tablet's virtual keyboard is.
Other Ports and Controls
The design of this tablet includes a USB 2.0 port, a micro-SD memory card slot, and a special docking connector port.
If you want more ports, Dell is offering the Productivity Dock , which adds four USB 2.0 ports, audio out, HDMI, and Ethernet. Basically, the idea is to turn the tablet into a desktop. This costs $145 as a stand-along product, or $100 when purchased with the tablet.
Getting a bit of hands-on time with a product has its uses, but there are limitations. In this case, I can tell you I was pleased with the performance of the prototype Dell Latitude 10 after putting it through its paces, but I can't back that up with any benchmark numbers.
It runs on a 1.8 GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor, with 2GB of RAM. The earlier Atom chips deserved their bad reputations for poor performance, but it looks like Intel finally has the kinks worked out. I can assure you there was nothing laggy about the performance of the Latitude 10 in my run through.
There is one downside to the Atom processor, though. Intel seems to be having trouble producing them in quantity, restricting the availability of computers running them. For example, if you order this Dell tablet today you won't get it until early 2013.
The Latitude 10 comes with Windows 8, but Dell is currently offering a free upgrade to the Pro version. Whichever version you end up with, it is going to have the new tiles-based look and feel that Microsoft created -- expect to spend a few minutes figuring out how to to do everything, and maybe even pull out the manual.
It has 64GB of solid-state memory -- which surely contributes to its speediness -- but keep in mind that a chunk of this is used up by the operating system.
Very preliminary tablet testing doesn't lend itself to close examinations of cameras, so I'll just point out that the Latitude 10 has two of them, one front-facing and one on the back.
Battery life is also another factor that's difficult to judge without long-term use of a product, but the prototype unit I tried went for at least two hours on a single charge. The battery wasn't flat at that point, but the demonstration was over -- there's no telling how much longer it could have lasted. Still, it's nice to know the battery life won't be terrible, even if we don't know how good it will be.
The official prices for the Dell Latitude 10 start at $1000 and go up from there. But Dell.com is currently taking orders for this tablet starting at $650, so obviously you can expect to find it at well below the regular price with little difficulty.
And right now, it seems like it will be worth the money. I know many people have concerns about the new user interface on Windows 8, but I tend to believe this will be something that blows over as people get used to it. The Latitude 10 appears to be a device that is worth going through a learning curve to use.