Review: Dell Latitude XT
February 21st, 2008
The Latitude XT is Dell's first Tablet PC, released slightly over five years after Tablet PCs first came to market. With its 3.6 pound minimum weight and convertible configuration, it has the potential to meet the needs of many of the University's Windows-based "road warriors" who need tablet capability.
The Latitude XT is a single-spindle, 12-inch widescreen convertible Tablet PC, designed to run Windows Vista or Windows XP Tablet Edition. It uses ultra-low-voltage (ULV) processors: either a Core 2 Solo U2100 processor running at 1.06 GHz or a Core 2 Duo U7600 processor running at 1.2 GHz.
The display is available as either an LED-backlit (220 nits) or an extremely bright display designed for outdoor viewing (400 nits). Choosing the outdoor viewing display increases both the weight and the thickness of the Latitude XT by approximately 20%.
For input, both screens include a capacitive touch screen, allowing input from both finger and pen. Dell expects to upgrade this screen to full multi-touch capability later in 2008. In addition, Dell ships all Latitude XTs with three different tips for the pen, allowing significant variance in writing feel.
The Latitude XT includes many features of Intel's Santa Rosa chipset, including standard 4-pin FireWire. Interestingly, the Latitude XT includes ATI's Radeon Xpress 1250 integrated graphics chipset, instead of Intel's GMA X3100 integrated solution. The Latitude XT also includes an Express Card slot, a SecureDigital card slot, and Dell's Wi-Fi Catcher wireless network locater.
The Latitude XT has received a Silver rating from EPEAT and is Energy Star 4.0-certified.
General Usage Observations
Equipping this system with at least 2.0 GB of RAM gives the Latitude XT good responsiveness and use of the stylus on the screen displayed very good accuracy and speed. The display, although not yet ready for multi-touch, does allow for users to take their pick as to how they wish to interact with the system, and switching from the pen to the finger is simply a matter of tapping the screen with a finger a few times until recognized.
Note that if a user has been using the Latitude XT in its tablet form, and then switches to using it as a regular notebook, and performs the switch to tablet again, the screen orientation will be set to a default, which could have been modified by allowing the system to remember what the user's preference was before switching out, and returning to that when going back. Settings to modify this were not easily found, but perhaps they will come in an update sometime soon.
Configuration & Ordering Notes
Several notes when ordering a Latitude XT:
See ISC's Tablet PC Computer Purchasing Guide for more configuration hints. As of February 2008, configuring a Latitude XT to the Tablet PC specification can be done for approximately $2,600.
Windows Vista Performance
A tested Latitude XT (1.2 GHz Core 2 Duo U7600, 533 MHz 2.0 GB RAM, integrated ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 graphics, 80 GB hard drive) has a Windows Experience Index base score of 3.6, with individual scores of:
These scores suggest that Windows Vista performance will be acceptable to good for most users on a Latitude XT configured in this manner. The graphics scores are notably better than most lightweight Latitudes.
In the time between the early rumors of this product in 2006 and its actual introduction, several features that were initially notable about it have become less so. In particular, Gateway/Acer and Toshiba have both introduced 12-inch widescreen tablets.
The Latitude XT was originally expected to be relatively close in general design to the Latitude D430 (as the Lenovo ThinkPad X61 Tablet is to the ThinkPad X61s), but time and constant design revisions have ended up with a product that is considerably different in look, feel, and capability.
ISC sees the Latitude XT as being an interesting choice among Tablet PCs available in early 2008. However, the high price tag accompanying this system will probably keep users who are not certain of their commitment to the Tablet PC away.
Thanks to Jason Trumpy and Faith Ingles (both of Dell) for their help with this review.
--John Mulhern III & Jose Magos, ISC Technology Support Services (February 21st, 2008)
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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