Dell’s second stab at a convertible Tablet PC is a superb machine which brings finger-tap support to the screen and, perhaps in a more headline-grabbing move, adds multi-touch support for good measure.
The machine is pricey though. Its starting price of £1,200 comes into play before you start fiddling with the many customisation options, and before you add VAT on top.
Overall a small format notebook at 297 x 222.6 x 27.4mm, the Latitude XT2 is still a little heavy at 1.64kg. Carrying it in the crook of an arm for extended periods could be telling if you are not overly strong. There’s not much wrong with the build quality, though. The lid exhibits very little flex and the base section is solid.
The 12.1-inch screen delivers 1280 x 800 pixels and it is here that Dell has put much of its headline grabbing effort. The screen is a capacitive touchscreen and as such can cater for pinch-to-zoom and double-tapping to close windows. These worked quite well for us, though the pinch-to-zoom option did result in some greasy finger marks on the screen.
You can also use flicks to scroll. This worked well in Web pages with vertical flicks ideal for scrolling, horizontal ones working nicely to go back and forth between pages.
In addition to this touch support the Latitude XT2 has a digitiser pen, touchpad and track stick, the latter benefiting from its own mouse buttons sitting beneath the space bar.
The general specifications are solid and business-user friendly. There’s a fingerprint scanner on the screen surround and an ambient light sensor so that the screen automatically dims or brightens depending on the surrounding lighting conditions. A webcam is also present. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are included and you can add HSDPA support if you need it.
Ports and connectors run to a single USB connector and Firewire IEEE 1394 connector on the left edge, while on the right is a mechanical switch for the wireless module and a button for Dell’s Wi-Fi Catcher software, which lets you know if wireless networks are in range.
Behind these sit a USB/eSATA combo connector, reader for SD and compatible cards and ExpressCard slot. Rather inconveniently located at the back of the right edge are headphones and microphone connectors. On the back is another USB connector, the Ethernet connector and external monitor port.
Where the whole thing falls down, though, is in the absence of an optical drive. If you want one it is an optional extra, and it comes as a slab which fits to the bottom of the chassis. While the notebook’s lightness and portability are compromised, you will be £200 lighter.
There are various configurations available, depending on what you choose to pay for. Vista Business, Vista Ultimate and Windows XP for Tablet PC are all possibilities. You can have various hard drive configurations including a 64GB solid state hard drive and 80GB and 120GB mechanical drives.
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