Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC Release and Our First Thoughts

Discussion in 'News Headlines' started by jared2, Dec 18, 2007.

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  1. Tiffany Boggs

    Tiffany Boggs Editor/Site Admin Senior Member

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    It's finally here. That is right, the Latitude XT Tablet PC is available now. Dell's first Tablet PC has been the talk of the Web for months and today is the day Tablet enthusiasts have been waiting for. The XT looks like a solid tablet and as soon as we get our review unit in the next few weeks, we will bring you our full hands-on review.

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    The Latitude XT is being marketed toward business professionals, thus the reason it is so thin and light. The XT is packed full of features that are sure to please anyone, the only caveat is that Dell left out an optical drive to keep it thin -- there is an optional Media Base if you need that though. The Latitude XT sports either a 1.06GHz Core 2 Solo ULV processor or a 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo ULV processor. The XT also has a touchpad and a track stick, so navigating around on this tablet should be easy.

    The Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC specs:


      Core 2 Solo 1.06GHz ULV processor or Core 2 Duo 1.2GHz ULV processor
      ATI Radeon Xpress 1250 integrated graphics
      1GB DDR2 SDRAM - 3GB DDR2 SDRAM
      Hard drives: 1.8" 4200 rpm 40GB or 80GB, 1.8" 5400 rpm 120GB or 32GB and 64GB SSD
      12.1" WXGA (1280x800) display with option of LED-backlit (220 nits) or Outdoor viewing (400 nits)
      Touchscreen and digitizer pen input
      Mobile Broadband with EVDO Rev A service through Verizon Wireless or Sprint
      Dell Wireless 802.11a/g/n
      10/100/1000 Ethernet
      Optional Bluetooth
      54mm Express Card
      3 x USB ports
      SD Card slot
      IEEE 1394
      VGA-15 pin
      RJ-45
      Optional media slice for docking
      OS: Microsoft Vista Ultimate, Business or XP Tablet PC Edition
      Batteries: primary battery is 4-cell or 6-cell and then there is the secondary 9-cell slice battery
      Weight: LED panel model with 4-cell battery: 3.57 lbs. Outdoor model with 6-cell battery: 4.1 lbs
      Dimensions: LED panel 1"H x 11.7"W x 8.6"D

      Dell is trying to change the tablet scene around with the XT and its dual-mode digitizer technology that is supposed to offer improvement in tablet usability. The XT uses the N-trig digitizer technology, which supports both pen and touch input, while improving accuracy and using less power.

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      The XT is the perfect travel companion considering it is lightweight and the 45W power adapter is very light as well. The battery life is claimed to last an entire work day or around 9.5 hours with the battery slice. Even the media base is portable for those of you who have to have an optical drive. The pen even comes with multiple tip options so users can customize their own writing experience. Road warriors and college students are rejoicing.

      The Latitude XT is available now with prices starting at $2,499. For more information check out Dell's website.

      First Thoughts Based on Hands on with the Dell Latitude XT

      by Andrew Baxter

      I had the opportunity to get some hands on time with the Dell Latitude XT during a meeting with Dell last week and wanted to share a few thoughts.

      First of all, kudos to Dell for taking their time and really researching the market before jumping in. They could have quite easily taken the existing Latitude D430 ultraportable notebook, added tablet functionality and shoved it out the door to sell as their entry into the tablet market. But instead they spent well over a year experimenting, interviewing, contemplating and designing to reach what is today the Latitude XT. The XT is not at all like any of the other Latitude line notebooks in its form factor or chassis design. It has been designed from the group up as a Tablet PC.

      There are two different Latitude XT Tablets, one has an outdoor screen with 400 nits of brightness and the other a thin LED backlit screen. The form factor difference between these two is actually quite large. When I picked up the 400 nit outdoor viewable screen tablet I was initially disappointed with the XT thinking to myself "great, another heavy Tablet". But the outdoor screen is really designed just for those out in the field that are used to carrying a lot of heavy equipment -- think oil field exploration workers or utility company field engineers. When I was handed the LED backlit screen XT the weight felt significantly less (half a pound less) and thus I was relieved. The XT with the LED screen is also much noticeably thinner, it's definitely the version of choice for most of us business folks.

      The pen itself is quite unique. It had a good amount of heft to it and was easy to grip, the squarish shape was a little odd but nothing I noticed while writing as it is rounded where you grip it. The cool thing is Dell offers different interchangeable pen nubs that change the feel of how you write on the screen. There's a nub that gives the feel of ballpoint and another that provides a felt-pen feel. Dell knows it's sometimes the little things that make a difference, and providing a choice here is fantastic.

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      The keyboard is something to note, it is once again quite different feeling to other Dell Latitude keyboards. The keys are quite flat, had good travel and were not as clicky as a typical Dell keyboard. It actually felt a lot like the keyboard on the HP 2510p / 2710p and had the same kind of coating to make keys more resistant to wear. The touchpad and trackpoint navigation means you have just about every type of input imaginable. You can move the cursor with the touchpad, trackstick, pen or your finger.


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      One of my favorite features of the Dell Latitude XT, which many will find odd, was the power adapter. I don't have a picture to show and wish that I did, you wouldn't believe how small it is! I literally had to keep holding the smaller than a pack of cards size adapter and weighing it up and down to believe how light it was. It's by far the smallest power adapter I've seen in any notebook or Tablet PC, and it's thrilling to see an ultraportable design finally consider the power adapter as part of the parcel in the weight concern.

      The hinge that sticks out might strike some people as odd (this is seen most distinctly on the bottom view image). However, it made for a perfect place to grip the tablet when you're in slate mode, and was designed as such. It's definitely strong enough that you can just grip it with one hand, added texture ensures ease of hold.

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      When rotating into tablet mode the screen automatically rotates to landscape, just as any Tablet PC does. You can then use the screen rotate button if you want to orientate the screen differently. There's no built-in accelerometer like the ThinkPad X61 Tablet and Apple iPhone use to automatically orient the screen with the way you're holding it. That's one feature I would like to have seen to make this closer to the ultimate tablet. Also, when in Tablet mode there's no latch design to pin the screen down to the base, this isn't totally necessary since the hinge mostly holds the screen down via resistance, but when I forcibly shook the XT I was able to generate a bit of play between the screen and the keyboard to show it wasn't totally secure.


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      In terms of ports I can't see how Dell could have fit much else into this little guy. If you want more ports and an optical drive, you can get the media base with a DVD+/-RW for $170. The overall thinness of the base is great, I'm glad Dell went with a ULV processor so that they could make the profile as slim as possible.

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      I wish I could go on more about the Latitude XT, but I only had a limited time with. Plus the product tour was done over dinner so I didn't want to get the screen too greasy! We'll be getting a Latitude XT to review soon and cover more of its features, the good and the bad, but I'm happy to say it's mostly just good.

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  2. quantum

    quantum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Well that starting price just blew my bubble...

    I wonder if the reviewer (previewer?) held the CCFL screen version with a 6 cell battery and the LED version with a 4 cell, as despite being one of the benefits of LED backlighting, the weight difference shouldn't be that much of a difference (half a pound)...

    All in all, the new Toshiba M700 is looking mighty fine to me right about now...
     
  3. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    $2500 to start?!? Haha go f$@% yourself, Dell.
     
  4. virage

    virage Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Tiffany and Andrew, I know it's too early to ask this... but based on your initial impression, would you pick Latitude XT over Fujitsu T2010 or not?

    I need to buy a TabletPC very soon, no later than January, but am unsure which one to get.. :confused: I have almost bought the T2010 but heard the news of the imminent Latitude XT debut..
     
  5. Mynd Ara

    Mynd Ara Deus Ex Macchus

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    And so came the Latitude XT. The holy grail of tablets, doomed to sit with the Portege R400 (in actuality most TPC's) in the "close, but no cigar" category. I think Toshiba released their tablet yesterday because they knew Dell was gonna pull this. We won't know how successfully they've undermined Dell until we get some sales figures.
     
  6. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    If you don't need dual mode touch, save yourself tons of money and go with the 2010. Fujitsu make much higher quality laptops than Dell in the first place, and they have been doing tablet laptops WAY before the Tablet PC spec started by MS back in 2002.
     
  7. shademar

    shademar Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Heh, there would have to be two new multi-touch style tablets released within a day of when my x61t is delivered. Luckily (I guess) the price blows this one completely out of the debate. The Toshiba looks pretty interesting, but still a good $400 more than I paid (I don't need an optical drive *that* much...) That's what I'm going to keep telling myself at least. :)
     
  8. Frank

    Frank Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I'm happy I bought the T2010 ;) Small, long battery life, good quality ;) Now it's still the only lightweight mobile tablet for an acceptable price ;)
    The Dell is just a joke now, for 2500$ and up, no no. The battery life is poor, especially if I have to add a slice battery which ruins the "flat" design of the XT. Dell has no experience in tablets, it's their first tablet and they want, that I pay a lot more than for a tablet from a manufacturer which produces tablets for a long time and is better equipped than the XT, these people are crazy.
    The two most interesting parts are: speed vs. T2010 and multi-touch software support.
     
  9. zunq

    zunq Scribbler - Standard Member

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    I paid $1000 less for a base T2010(in fact $1400), I've no idea how anything Dell should start at $2500. The touch is nice but it's not necessary for most people, just a novelty feature. The only thing better about it is the nice looking materials they used on this thing, otherwise I can't say I am impressed.
     
  10. quantum

    quantum Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Is the screen in the photos the LED screen? If so, it looks as if they deliberately kept it thick just to accommodate the tablet buttons...
     
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