Home > Dell Latitude XT, technology > Dell Latitude XT: the verdict

Dell Latitude XT: the verdict

January 2, 2008

Also see my other Latitude XT posts: pictures, first impressions, and more thoughts.

I spent most of yesterday using the XT from the comfort of my couch at home while watching bowl games.  How could life get any better … new tech toys and HDTV football.  LOVELY!  I spent most of the afternoon catching up on reading blogs, installing Office 2007 and letting my mailbox sync up from our corporate Exchange server, and some other basic tasks.  Nothing “heavy”.

While I don’t purport to have spent days and days using Dell’s new tablet to it’s fullest extent, I’ve played enough with it to draw up some decent conclusions.

  • This is a decent computer.  It’s not going to break any speed records, but it’s not a slouch either.  I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this platform to a business user who wants/needs a tablet for everyday use (web, email, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.).  This is not the machine for developers or gamers.  As always, if you want to run virtual machines I’d recommend an external hard drive (especially with this box’s 5400rpm ATA disk).
  • It’s a bit slow to boot with the Dell factory image (haven’t made a fresh build to compare though).  18 seconds from power button to Vista’s “green crawl”; at 33 seconds the screen goes black and the box works on loading drivers … for a long time (HD activity dies out for a while too – odd).  At 1 minute 4 seconds the Vista logon screen pops up and is ready to go.
  • The quality is okay, but it’s definitely a version 1 product.  The screen really bugs me for pen input with the (glued on?) “rubbery” coating.  Variations in “feet” height and the screen weight compared to the base both make the system a bit wobbly on a table or lap desk.
  • In laptop mode the computer runs remarkably quiet and cool, even sitting on a couch with the bottom vents restricted by fabric.  In slate mode it’s still quite, but the whole thing heats up noticeably, especially around the screen hinge where you’d naturally hold it.  It’s not horrible, but surprising.  Are they venting this thing through the keyboard?
  • The screen is VERY readable from all angles – notably so.  This is the first tablet I’ve seen where I can easily read the whole page in slate mode without tilting the device up and down for optimal viewing (and I haven’t seen many of the newest ones so don’t hold me to this).  The size of the screen is nice in laptop mode with the widescreen capabilities; in slate mode the height of the display takes some getting used to and I’d love to see it wider.
  • I don’t like the pen compared to the X61t or Toshiba offerings, and the screen coating doesn’t help with writing ease.  It’s comfortable to hold but difficult to use the buttons.  Dell, PLEASE put an eraser button on the back of the pen instead of causing finger gymnastics to erase something.

Overall I think Dell did pretty good for their first foray into the tablet world.  Sure they need to make some upgrades (SATA hard drive anyone?) but it’s not bad.  I wish Dell would make ALL latitudes compatible with the standard docking stations (Lat D430 and XT have to use a custom media bay).

Pricing is a heafty premium compared to the Latitude D430, it’s closest relative.  With our corporate discounts our fully loaded D630’s run around $1600.  This Latitude XT cost our organization about $2400 (3GB RAM, U7600 dual core processor, pre-N WiFi, Vista Ultimate, 3 year Gold support with CompleteCare).

Am I going to use it as my primary machine?  Not right now.  We forgot to put the media base and the Bluetooth card on the order (we walked through the specs on the phone with our rep before it was on Dell’s website).  I’d also want the slim battery base for travel.

Should you buy one?  Maybe.  That’s a pretty personal decision.  Worst case is you get it, hate it, and return it for a refund (check with Dell on their policies for that).  While a tablet is pretty cool to have, for me personally I’ve found that I’m not so sure how often I’d actually use it in tablet mode.  But that’s just me.

Hope these reviews have helped you!

  1. cowboy
    January 5, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    What would be your opinion between X61 and XT. Which would you recommend for personal usage preferably for student’s usage.

  1. January 2, 2008 at 10:52 pm
  2. January 3, 2008 at 7:47 am
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