Dell Latitude XT: A cutting edge tablet PC

Written by:  • Edited by: Tricia Goss
Updated May 14, 2009
• Related Guides: Dell

Dell enters the tablet PC market with the Latitude XT and it holds its own as a fine entry level system. The Latitude XT is built for the business market and has a price to match, but it delivers with excellence.

This is part 2 of a 7 part article series. To start from the beginning, read "Emerging trends – Enhanced technologies make the tablet PC an excellent business companion".

The Latitude XT is Dell’s entry into the tablet PC market, which is solid in design and utilizes cutting edge technology (N-trig touchscreen) to provide a highly responsive capacitive user experience. [See image 1]

The Latitude XT is functional and robust with a ULV Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz processor which provides adequate performance. Boot up is quick and applications run in a moderate timeframe. The Latitude XT’s 120GB hard drive provides great storage capacity with no distinct drop off in battery life, which is a must for professional use and leads me to believe that at such a high price the XT was built for the business, not the home market.

For battery life the Dell Latitude XT is a solid performer. The standard 6-cell battery does only last between 3/4 hrs in normal use and less than 3hrs during heavy usage which would not cover a full days use. However installing the 9-cell slice battery gives optimum power all day. This ‘slice’ fits seamlessly on the bottom of the device and takes approximately 3hrs to charge from empty. [See image 2]

The Latitude XT weighs an impressive 3.12lb which makes it lighter than many tablets on the market. As such it is excellent to carry and operate on the move. Business users will also like the device for its innovative design and underlying technology. It looks professional, even the pen is cutting edge, working brilliantly in all environments. Calibration is simple and sensitive but the pen doesn’t have an eraser, instead there is an erase button which takes some getting used to.

What impressed me most about the design of the Dell Latitude XT was the 12.1” WXGA screen which displayed brilliant screen resolution and color projection. The display also has minimal graininess which enables viewing angles to be broad and clear. This makes the device excellent for multiple business settings - presentations, note taking and meetings in particular. [See image 3]

Dell’s N-trig technology delivers a fantastic user experience, free from the frustrations of many other tablets which to varying degrees, lack responsiveness and require a duplication of effort in order to process on screen actions. This N-trig technology moves away from resistive touch to capacitive touch, meaning the finger can act like a pen, and while this may sound almost impossible to achieve with real accuracy the Latitude XT is remarkably accurate and responsive. What is more you don’t have to apply considerable pressure to make it work, and Dell have incorporated excellent palm rejection technology so there is no interference when the hand rests on the screen. For those wanting a more conventional experience the touchpad is perfectly operable utilizing track point technology and the keyboard is solid with no flexing of the keys. Built around Windows Vista to enhance the user interface further the Latitude XT has an abundance of onscreen facilities such as windows security, screen rotate, email shortcut, tablet configuration and scroll toggle making the device simple to configure for individual preferences. [See image 4]

To conclude the Dell Latitude XT is a highly impressive piece of hardware, with a price tag ($2650) that reflects the market it has been designed for and a quality that it delivers. Touch, pen or dual mode are all highly responsive. It would be nice to see a latch for locking the device in tablet or notebook mode but with minimal heat/noise output and a lightweight feel the unit is equally impressive driven as a notebook or slate. The Latitude XT has an exceptional display which hides fingerprints and smears and with integrated Verizon or Sprint wireless connectivity the tablet provides an excellent signal across wireless 802.11n. The N-trig dual touch technology is most impressive and with all day power capability this is a great tablet if you are prepared to pay such a premium price.

To go to the next article read "HP Compaq 2710p: Plenty of power at a great price".

Images

Dell Latitude XTDell Latitude XT batteryDell Latitude XT displayDell Latitude XT hand writing recognition

 
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