Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC User Review

by Reads (22,033)

by Stefan

Alright, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. The first Dell Tablet PC to hit the market, the new Latitude XT. Forget the HP, forget the Toshiba, throw away your IBM. This tablet takes the cake and is going to be a tough competitor in the right market.


Dell’s first Tablet PC, the Latitude XT. (view large image)

Dell Latitude XT specs as reviewed: (tested price $1,900 for the corporate spec model)

  • Processor: Intel Mobile Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz
  • Memory: 2GB DDR2 SDRAM
  • Hard drive: 80GB 5200 rpm SATA
  • Screen: 12.7"
  • Graphics: ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 (256 Mb)
  • Optical Drive: as tested was a CD-RW/DVD in a beautiful external drive
  • Wireless Communications: Broadcom 802.11g Network Card
  • 3x USB Ports
  • 1x 1394 (Firewire)
  • 1x SD Card reader
  • 1x PC card slot
  • 1x VGA-15 pin
  • Weight: 3.6lbs.

Design and Build                              

Dell’s new XT tablet will soon catch on as a good substitute for those Toshiba, HP and IBM tablets. It is an ultraportable, thin and light tablet that will no doubt eventually be converted into Dell’s proprietary ATG format being used with the D630 line.


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

From a student’s, mobile note-taking fanatics, and the on-the-job technicians view, this Tablet will be delivered more and more to the oil-field service industry. This laptop is spec’d in a premature manner by Dell, and by no means is the best available.

Display

The 12.1" widescreen LCD has a fantastic touch screen. The screen has great viewing angles and is nearly flush with the bezel. It has no dead pixels, a bright screen, and a max resolution of 1280 x 800, the XT Tablet is by far one of the best I’ve seen on any Dell laptop. The backlight is extremely even and very bright.


Latitude XT in notebook mode. (view large image)

Speakers

The speakers are quite frankly terrible. There is one speaker on the left side of the machine, which can get very loud. If you are in the market for a laptop that can play music, look for a gaming computer. Like most ultraportables, this laptop’s audio is meant to playback voice messages in Outlook. However, this is common in business model Tablet PCs.

Processor and Performance

While it is only 1.2GHz, the Core 2 Duo processor allows it to multitask very well. When tested with several programs running, software installations and the unzipping of a file, there was little to no interruption with each process. The most dissatisfying aspect of the laptop’s power is in the start-up time. It was comparably slow to other Dell laptop’s with similar pricing. I had no problems with wireless connections and the battery life was typical of an ultraportable lasting from 3-4 hours depending on usage.

Benchmarks

HDTune: TOSHIBA MK8009GAH

Transfer Rate Minimum 11.4 MB/sec
Transfer Rate Maximum 25.5 MB/sec
Transfer Rate Average 19.9 MB/sec
Access Time  21.0 ms
Burst Rate   53.8 MB/sec
CPU Usage      1.9%

 

PCMark05 measures the systems performance as a whole.

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Dell Latitude XT (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Radeon Xpress 1250 graphics) 1,561 PCMarks
HP tx2000 (AMD Turion 64 X2 2.3GHz, Nvidia Go 6150 graphics) 3,738 PCMarks
Asus R1E (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz, GMA 965 chipset) 4,679 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T2010 (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 2,334 PCMarks
Gateway C-140x (Intel Core 2 Duo 2GHz, ATI X2300 HD graphics) 4,342 PCMarks
HP Compaq 2710p (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 2,453 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X61 (Intel Core 2 Duo 1.6GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 3,473 PCMarks
Fujitsu LifeBook T4220 (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, GMA X3100 graphics) 4,171 PCMarks
Gateway E-155C (Intel Core 2 Duo ULV 1.06GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,205 PCMarks
LG C1 (Intel Core Duo 1.2GHz, Nvidia Go 7300) 2,568 PCMarks
Toshiba R400 (Intel Core Duo ULV 1.2GHz, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,187 PCMarks
HP tx1000 (AMD Turion X2 2.0GHz, Nvidia Go 6150) 3,052 PCMarks
Asus R1F (1.66GHz Core Duo, Intel GMA 950 graphics) 2,724 PCMarks

 

*Note the PCMark05 score may be lower due to the power settings on the notebook and the fact it’s the Enterprise Edition, which will most likely be updated before its final release.*

Windows Experience


Windows Experience score. (view large image)

Heat and Noise

I was surprised to find that the laptop was relatively comfortable to use. The fan is extremely quiet, and the heat will only be uncomfortable if the user is running on the "high performance" power setting. All said and done, Dell’s use of materials, the location of the heat sink and graphics card allow the tablet to be used very comfortably in hand and on the move.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The touchpad is the same you find on all Dell’s. It’s a little smaller than I would have liked, but the new buttons on the track pad and the stick are much better than previous Dell models, especially those on the Inspiron series.


Latitude XT keyboard. (view large image)

The tablet’s pen is awkward. It has a good feel, but would be a little better with a grip built onto the pen. It does have an attachment for the lanyard on the top of the pen. Combined with the touchscreen, the two are fantastic. The touchscreen has what is called the N-trig digitizer with "pen flicks". With both enabled, the usability of the tablet is amazing.

Input and Output Ports

The Latitude XT is packed full of features. Every user should be thrilled with what is offered and if three USB ports, IEEE 1394, SD Card slot, PC Card slot, fingerprint reader, headphone and microphone jacks, Ethernet port, a VGA port and a Security port aren’t enough for you then you will have to buy the media bay, which wasn’t included in my package.


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


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

Operating System and Software

Microsoft’s Vista operating system is nice. There isn’t really much to say, it is by far the best touchscreen tablet software on the market now. It is as functional as the iPhone and intuitive as well. The flick based software that allows you to scroll with the ease of a flick of your finger is definitely a winner.

Customer Support

As usual, Dell’s award-winning service is fantastic, especially the service that is given to the small-business and medium to large business lines. I have never been unsatisfied with the Dell experience, if you complain, they will respond. You just need to know how to push their buttons.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a personal tablet, look elsewhere. The price of the enterprise edition will not be available to the consumer market. It is a powerful, extremely precise and well built machine that will be appealing to medical professionals, enterprises, and on-site technical service officers and employees. Would I buy it for personal use? No. Would I recommend it to people or businesses? In a heartbeat! I work at a medical professionals office, and if we used this machine we could greatly increase our efficiency. It’s not for everyone, but it’s great at what it does.


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