Dell Latitude XT2

I’ve got my hands on another laptop to play around with. This time it’s a Tablet PC manufactured by Dell called the Latitude XT2. It’s a visually appealing laptop and fairly light to handle. Lately, I’ve been handling laptops that are quite heavy so the XT2 didn’t feel like anything.

The system that I’m testing is configured as follows:

12.1″ Premium WXGA LED Display
Intel Core2 Duo U9400 1.4GHz
Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator
80GB Hard Drive 5400RPM
Dell Wireless 1397

Out of the box, the system came bundled with Windows Vista. I’m not sure why it didn’t come with Windows 7 installed but I assume that it was assembled before the release date of the operating system but for some reason they didn’t ship it out to us until last week. Unfortunately, nobody likes Windows Vista so it had to go.

My company uses Windows XP but we’re pilot testing Windows 7 so it’ll be a while before we start to use Windows 7 as the main operating system. That means that I’ll have to configure this laptop to use Windows XP before we can roll it out to the users. We ordered eight laptops so it’s not so bad. The plan is to configure one of them properly and then image it and throw the image onto the other machines. I have one tablet at work for that and the rest I get to play with.

I brought one of them home and installed Windows 7 Professional on it. Much like the other installs, Windows 7 found most of the hardware. The only thing that it didn’t manage to find was the fingerprint reader and some other hardware that I can’t remember. I had to download the drivers for those and manually install them.

Dell Latitude XT2
So here’s the laptop. It’s pretty slick looking with the brush metal texture. It’s about 8.5″ wide, 11.5″ long and 1″ thick and weighs 3.62lbs. I have a Dell D400 laptop but the XT2 is a bit smaller and lighter than the D400. It has somewhat of a nicer feel to it too. And when you touch it, there aren’t any finger marks left all over the place like the other laptops that I’ve used, at least none that I can see at the moment.

Dell Latitude XT2
The screen is nice and bright. There’s an ambient light sensor at the bottom of the display but I hardly use it because it’s a bit of a headache sometimes with all that dimming and brightening. The best resolution that I can get is 1280×800 which isn’t too bad. Running along the bottom are the power, the CTRL (CTRL-ALT-DEL), orientation button, ambient light senor and the biometric fingerprint reader.

Dell Latitude XT2
Switching from laptop mode to tablet mode requires you to rotate the screen 180 degrees clockwise. It’s not bi-directional so you can’t turn it 180 degrees counter clockwise, not if you want to break it. Once it’s in tablet mode, Windows remembers that last orientation that you had it in and switches to that orientation. The orientations that you can switch from are landscape, portrait, flipped landscape and flipped portrait. As far as I know the orientation button only switches between three of those modes. I’m not sure why but it doesn’t want to switch to flipped landscape mode automatically. In order to get flipped landscape mode, you have to manually set that in the display settings.

Dell Latitude XT2

Last but not least is the pen. I haven’t really used the pen much because of the touch open. Also, I found the pen to be a little finicky. Sometimes it thinks that I click on something when in reality I haven’t even touched the street. I think the proximately detector is slight off. Plus, there’s not too many uses for the pen because you can easily use your finger. But the thing that it can be used for is to wake up the computer from standby mode. You simply put the laptop to sleep and when you’re ready to use it again, you can either type a few keys or eject the pen from its hiding spot.

Switch between pen mode and touch mode was seamless. The multi-touch screen comes with software by N-Trig that allows you to switch between the two modes. It also adds some gesture features as well like pinching to zoom in and out, flicking to navigate and some handy two finger combination to do stuff.Pen
I testing the dual mode in Windows XP and it’s very buggy. I couldn’t get it to work properly. When I switched between pen and touch mode, it was very slow. Going from touch to pen mode was easy but for some reason the touch doesn’t always register correctly. But the two modes in Windows 7 seems to be flawless and works without any issues.

All in all, this is a pretty impressive machine given that you have a good operating system to handle everything. Switching between all of the display modes was quick and easy. Once you rotate the screen, the screen blinks quickly and the new orientation takes over. The laptop is light weight and great for mobility. The fingerprint reader handles logging in without any issues. The display is night and bright. The keyboard is just the right size. Over all, I like this laptop very much. It’s probably one of the best laptops that I’ve used in a while. But on the down side is the $2700 price tag. I’m not sure why it’s so expensive but I’m assuming that it’s because of the tablet feature. The screen isn’t as solid though because when it’s in laptop mode and you go to press the button, the screen shakes a bit. And the one thing that I almost missed were a couple of buttons that are hidden underneath the display. They’re not visible until you switch to tablet mode. They’re used to scroll and navigate. It’s pretty handy when it’s used.