Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC Review

by tiffany boggs Reads (132,709)

Buy Direct From Manufacturer


Dell finally broke into the Tablet PC market with the release of the Latitude XT. There was a lot of hype and speculation around this release and we finally got our hands on a review unit. Now, we have the chance to see what the fuss is all about. The XT has a solid design and runs on a 1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo processor. It also has the new N-trig touchscreen technology, which is quite impressive. The pen and capacitive touch technology are both very accurate and responsive.

Dell Latitude XT specs as reviewed (price as tested $3,640)

  • Intel Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz ULV U7600 processor
  • Integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 graphics
  • 12.1" WXGA (1280 x 800) LED backlit Dual input digitizer
  • 2GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • 120GB hard drive, 5400rpm
  • Windows Vista Business OS
  • No optical drive, optional MediaBase with 8x DVD+/-RW
  • Battery: 6-cell standard, optional 9-cell slice battery
  • Wireless LAN 802.11n
  • Bluetooth
  • Integrated Verizon Wireless Broadband EV-DO Rev A
  • 3x USB ports
  • 1394 Port connector
  • SD Card slot
  • Express Card Slot
  • VGA port
  • RJ-45
  • Headphone and microphone
  • Weight: 3.12 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 1.00" x 11.7" x 8.6"


The Latitude XT and WWAN antenna. (view large image)

Design and Build

The Latitude XT has a sturdy chassis. The design is solid and it has that business appeal, which we know it is marketed toward, especially at this price. It is all black, but has a brushed aluminum finish on the lid and inside. It hides fingerprints and dirt like a champion. Weighing in a little over three pounds, it is easy to carry around in tablet mode and travel with. Dell didn’t cheap out on any part of the design, even the pen has a unique square shape and is very functional.


The XT converting to tablet mode. (view large image)

Not only does the XT have a touchpad, but it comes with a track-point as well. Now, you can choose what you like better. The LED backlit screen is bright and converting this notebook into a tablet just takes a few seconds. The screen automatically changes orientation, which is a bonus and since it has the N-trig touch technology giving presentations at that company meeting would be great.

Display

The XT has a 12.1" WXGA (1280 x 800) screen. The display is very impressive. I like the fact that it looks like a standard notebook. The LED backlit touchscreen is bright, has vivid colors and almost no graininess, which is great because you find graininess on all tablets. The LED backlit option also saves on battery life, another bonus.


The LED backlit display. (view large image)

Dell is the first to introduce the N-trig touch technology on a Tablet PC as well. Unlike other tablets that have resistive touch, the XT has capacitive touch. Using your finger is like using the pen. Both inputs are accurate and responsive due to the screen conducting an electrical current across the sensor and you don’t have to apply much pressure. The new touchscreen features good palm rejection technology as well, so you don’t ever get interference from your hand.


The XT in notebook mode, bright screen. (view large image)

The viewing angles are good both in notebook and tablet mode.The hinge demonstrates some wobble when in notebook mode so be careful not to abuse the XT. Carrying the XT in tablet mode is nice and the screen still looks the same and has no glare. I really like the LED backlit displays on tablets. They are much easier to read and without all the graininess, nicer to use for meetings, presentations or taking notes.

Performance and Benchmark

The XT isn’t built to be the fastest or most powerful tablet. It is made for the business market. It runs on a ULV Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz processor and has a 120GB hard drive. By no means is it slow though. It boots up moderately fast and can handle office tasks with no problem. The XT can surf the Web, check email, and take notes all while maintaining an impressive battery life. Having all day battery power is a definite need for the professional on the go.

Comparison Results for PCMark05

PCMark05 measures the systems performance as a whole.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Dell Latitude XT (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz ULV, ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 graphics) 2,692 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz ULV, Intel 945GMS chipset) 2,113 PCMarks
Asus R1E (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, GMA 965 chipset) 4,679 PCMarks
Gateway C-140x (Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz, ATI X2300 HD graphics) 4,342 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 4,171 PCMarks
HP tx2000 (AMD Turion 64 X2 2.3GHz, Nvidia Go 6150 graphics) 3,738 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 3,473 PCMarks
Toshiba Portege M700 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA 965 chipset) 3,399 PCMarks
HP tx1000 (AMD Turion X2 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 6150) 3,052 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo) 2,860 PCMarks
Toshiba Tecra M6 (1.66GHz Intel T2300E, Intel GMA 950) 2,732 PCMarks
Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,724 PCMarks
LG C1 (Intel Core Duo 1.2GHz, Nvidia Go 7300) 2,568 PCMarks
HP Compaq 2710p (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 2,453 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T2010 (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 2,334 PCMarks
Gateway E-155C (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.06GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,205 PCMarks
Toshiba R400 (Intel Core Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,187 PCMarks

 

Comparison Results for 3Dmark05

3DMark05 tests the overall graphic capabilities of a notebook.

Notebook 3D Mark 05 Results
Dell Latitude XT (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 graphics) 1,133 3DMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, Intel 945GMS chipset) 358 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T60 (2.0GHz Core Duo, ATI X1400 128MB) 2,092 3DMarks
Gateway C-140x (2GHz Core 2 Duo, ATI X2300 HD graphics) 1,956 3DMarks
LG C1 (1.2GHz Intel Core Duo, Nvidia Go 7300) 1,392 3DMarks
Toshiba Portege M700 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo, GMA 965 chipset) 940 3DMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA X3100 graphics) 925 3DMarks
Asus R1E (2.4GHz Core 2 Duo, GMA 965 chipset) 923 3DMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA X3100 graphics) 812 3DMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook S2210 (1.6GHz AMD Turion 64 X2 TL-52, ATI x1150) 810 3DMarks
HP tx2000 (2.3GHz AMD Turion 64 X2, Nvidia Go 6150 graphics) 636 3DMarks
HP Compaq 2710p (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, GMA X3100 graphics) 634 3DMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T2010 (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, GMA X3100 graphics) 566 3DMarks
Toshiba Satellite A135 (1.73GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950) 519 3DMarks
Gateway E-155C (1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo, Intel GMA 950) 500 3DMarks

 

Super Pi

In the below results of Super Pi, where the processor is timed in calculating Pi to 2 million digits:

Notebook Time to Calculate Pi to 2 Million Digits
Dell Latitude XT (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo) 1m 47s
Fujitsu LifeBook P1620 (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo) 1m 49s
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (2.2GHz Core 2 Duo) 54s
Gateway C-140x (2GHz Core 2 Duo) 58s
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (1.6GHz Core 2 Duo) 1m 10s
HP TC4400 Tablet PC (2.0GHz Core Duo) 1m 13s
Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo) 1m 20s
Lenovo ThinkPad X60t (1.66GHz LV Core Duo) 1m 24s
HP tx2000 (2.3GHz AMD Turion 64 X2) 1m 33s
HP Compaq 2710p (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo) 1m 39s
Fujitsu T2010 (1.2GHz ULV Core 2 Duo) 1m 40s
LG C1 (1.2GHz Intel Core Duo) 1m 49s
Gateway E-155C (1.06GHz ULV Core 2 Duo) 1m 58s
IBM ThinkPad X41t (1.5GHz LV Pentium M) 2m 02s
Toshiba R400 (1.2GHz ULV Core Duo) 2m 10s
Dell Latitude D420 (1.06GHz Core Solo ULV) 2m 11s
Fujitsu LifeBook U810 (800MHz Intel A110) 6m 22s

 

HDTune Results

 

Keyboard/Touchpad/Pen

The keyboard on the Latitude XT is solid. I didn’t notice any signs of flex and I like the flat keys. When typing fast it is easy to loose your place though since the keys don’t have a textured feel and are kind of slippery. It has that same business appeal as the rest of the design. Consisting of basic black keys with white lettering and a few blue accents. It sports that function over style look.


The XT keyboard, trackpoint and touchpad. (view large image)

The touchpad is very basic. It is actually small compared to most other tablets and there is plenty of room left on the palm rest area. Dell could have made it a little bigger, which would have made for easier navigation. You do have the choice of using it or the trackpoint though. The trackpoint is just as accurate and has its own set of right and left click buttons, which work as expected. At first the buttons confused me because you have two sets of mouse buttons, but you get used to it depending on which method you like. I also noticed that the trackpoint was recessed a little so if you are not careful you could accidentally hit the G, H or B keys.

The pen is innovative and one of the first I have seen like it. It is made of solid plastic and rounded at the bottom by the nib, but the end of the pen is square. There isn’t an eraser on the end, but there is an eraser button on the pen, which takes some getting used to. It’s not the same feeling.


The XT pen. (view large image)

The pen can be calibrated for writing preferences. The sensitivity can be adjusted to be more relaxed or precise. The pen is comfortable to write with and accurate. I enjoyed taking notes and navigating through applications with it. It also has replaceable tips for personalized writing preferences. The input methods are a definite step in the right direction for the Tablet PC market, but the high price is still a underlying factor.

Tablet PC Features

The XT has a great capacitive touchscreen, so taking notes with the pen and using your finger are both great ways to navigate and use your tablet. You don’t get stuck with that passive touchscreen that only allows you to use the pen for writing and your finger for starting applications. That usually takes a few taps too because your finger doesn’t read as well on passive touchscreens like with the HP tx1000.


The XT in tablet mode with pen. (view large image)

If you like a certain input mode, you can always change the XT to just be pen only, touch only or dual where you get both touch and pen modes. I don’t know why you would disable any of the input options (especially when you are spending a good amount of money on this tablet), but that is a personal preference.

Dell’s first entry into the tablet market is solid and they gave the XT some preconfigured tablet buttons. On the screen you have the Windows Security button, screen rotate button, email shortcut button and the Quickset tablet button that lets you program options for the tablet and pen.


Tablet buttons on the XT. (view large image)

Once in tablet mode you will notice two buttons on the bottom of the screen. One is a back button and the other a scroll toggle. This is a convenient feature because you don’t have to move your hand to go back to a certain page or scroll through pages. The XT is comfortable to hold and write with in tablet mode since it has no optical drive it is lightweight. The screen automatically changes orientation when put into tablet mode, but there is no latch to lock the XT into tablet mode or in notebook mode for that matter.

Ports

The XT has a good variety of ports. If you don’t like what it comes with you can always purchase the MediaBase for an extra $249, which gets you an optical drive, four more USB ports, a VGA port and more. Or if you are just in need of the optical drive you can buy one of those from Dell or any other place. The right side of the XT consists of the wireless on/off switch, "Wi-Fi Catcher" switch, one USB port, SD card slot, ExpressCard/54 slot, headphone jack, microphone jack and the security lock. The back of the XT has the power adapter, 15-pin D-Sub monitor output, Ethernet port and the second USB port. To the left you will find the pen, WWAN antenna (not included unless you order the WWAN option), FireWire port, the third USB port, vent for the CPU fan and the mono speaker. 


Back side view of the XT. (view large image)


Right side view of the ports. (view large image)


Left side view of the ports. (view large image)


Bottom of the XT. (view large image)


The XT sitting on the MediaBase, now it has an optical drive. (view large image)


The XT sitting on the optional MediaBase. (view large image)

Heat and Noise

The XT gave off more heat then I expected. It does have an ULV processor though, and anymore it seems these small, lightweight tablets get pretty warm. Even when the XT wasn’t being used and was idling the fan would kick on. It gave off a good amount of heat and kept my hand warm on a cold rainy day. I can understand the temperature rise when running the benchmarks, but during normal usage (surfing the Web) the back side of the XT got warm.

As for noise, this isn’t an issue with the XT. The only noise this tablet made is when the fan kicked on and off, which wasn’t that loud. There is no optical drive, but if you purchase the optional one, you obviously will get the basic noise from that. The XT is safe to take to class, the library or office meeting without annoying your neighbors.

Speakers

There is one speaker on the XT and it is located on the left side of the tablet. At first I was skeptical of its performance, but after testing it out I was surprised. The speaker put out good sound quality and got pretty loud. The placement of the speaker is different because its on the side and not on the keyboard area, but not a big deal. It doesn’t get covered when in tablet mode, so there isn’t any muffled sound, but it is off balance because you only have sound on that one side.

Battery

I had the 6-cell battery with my review XT. In Balanced power mode I was getting about 3-4 hours of battery life. I was surfing the Web and checking email. In High Performance mode the XT was getting a little under 3 hours. Nothing great, but this is about average. If you purchase the optional 9-cell slice battery, which will cost you an extra $170, you can get an entire 8 hour work day out of your battery. If you travel or just aren’t a fan of power adapter cords, I recommend the slice battery. It connects to the bottom of the tablet, is quite thin and it doesn’t take up much room in your bag.


Optional 9-cell slice battery for the XT. (view large image)


Ultra small 45W power brick for the XT. (view large image)

However, the XT has a nice 45W adapter for charging the battery. It takes a little longer then the standard power brick, but is so much smaller and lighter. I didn’t even notice carrying it around. It completely charged my XT in about three hours, so no complaints here.

Wireless

Dell has plenty of Wireless options to fit any user’s needs. They have mobile broadband support from both Verizon Wireless and Sprint. My tablet had integrated Verizon Wireless Broadband EV-DO Rev A. It also had Wireless LAN 802.11n and Bluetooth. I also had WWAN and the nice little antenna that pops out of the left side for better signal strength. I had no problems staying connected and always had a strong signal. The integrated Sprint or Verizon card is the way to go if you are a user on the go.

OS and Software

The XT was running Vista Business as the OS. It didn’t have much bloatware at all, which is a plus. I did have a problem with the Dell/Google homepage in Internet Explorer though. It would open the Dell homepage and then have an error and close. It was annoying, same as good old Norton. I used the Google Desktop to bypass this. The XT had Microsoft Office and a trial version of OneNote. Overall I don’t have any complaints. Vista is great for tablet use with its pen flicks and customizing options.

Conclusion

The Latitude XT is a solid tablet with a great display. It is very expensive though. Many users complained about the price and Dell says it is targeted toward the business market not consumers. This may be true, but it still seems a bit pricey for the business market as well. The XT can compete with Toshiba’s M700 or even Lenovo’s X61. Yes, the N-trig, dual touch technology is a huge plus and taking notes and using your finger are almost flawless, but the price is way above its competitors.

The XT comes with a nice array of ports and has plenty of optional accessories. The slice battery gives it all day power and the MediaBase gives you an optical drive and more ports then I could ever use. It seems Dell is already talking about updating the XT by November 2008 as well, so I guess we will see what the XT2 has to offer.

Pros

  • Dual touch technology, capacitive touch
  • LED backlit display
  • Solid keyboard
  • Solid pen with pressure sensitive nibs
  • Great battery life with slice battery
  • Tons of accessory options

Cons

  • Dull design, but business like
  • Expensive $$$
  • Eraser on pen is a button, feels awkward
  • Latch doesn’t lock lid

 




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