Some Latitude XT Usage Notes

This past week proved to be quite the test for how well the Latitude XT was going to hold up to some rigorous mobile usage. I’m pleased to say that it held up quite well and is still proving to be a great Tablet PC. Here are some notes from using it during the MVP summit the past week:

  • Many of Microsoft’s Tablet PC folks were using the LED version of the Latitude XT. There is a clear difference in thickness and weight between the LED and DLV version. The LED is significantly lighter and thinner. In hindsight, I probably should have purchased the LED version. I dont’ think the added viewability was worth the extra weight and thickness.
  • The battery life held up pretty well – about 2.5 – 3 hours using Dell’s Recommended profile. Under Power Saver, I was getting 4+ hours. I was getting 7 + hours on the extended battery using the Recommended profile. Because of the added weight and thickness, though, I hardly ever used the extended battery.
  • The replacement screen has proven to be a very good thing. I hardly ever notice the grid.
  • I had my pen replaced due to some accidental discharges when in hover mode. The new pen is working like a charm
  • The only bad angle on the DLV screen is when viewed under the Dell logo.
  • I only carried the Tom Bihn Ristretto Messenger bag all week. Along with the power adapter, some pouches for my wallet and cables, my phone, the extended battery, and the Latitude XT, I had everything I needed. It is amazing how much can fit in that small bag. Stay tuned for an InkShow on the Ristretto – it is a very, very nice bag and a great solution for the the Latitude XT.
  • The low profile 45 watt adapter for the XT is the best mobile ac adapter I’ve ever used. It is light and takes up very little space in a bag
  • Inking and touching continues to be a great experience on the Latitude XT. I’m still using Auto Mode and prefer it as the default touch setting.
  • With the great touch experience, I’m learning to use the flick gestures a lot more. I found myself in portrait mode a lot more than usual this past week, and the flick gestures worked great. They could still use some interactive feedback improvement, but are often a much-overlooked feature of Vista.
  • Getting the N-Trig / OneNote bug fixed was a very good thing. It helped a lot with my notetaking during meetings. However, I found myself in InkSeine, EverNote, and OneNote periodically throughout the week. My favorite notetaking destination when portrait: InkSeine. My favorite when in landscape: EverNote.
  • Keyboarding on the XT is very nice. Not quite as good of an experience as the Lenovo X61, but still quite good.
  • When using an SD card in the XT, the card sticks out much further than other tablets I’ve used, and is prone to accidentally eject when the tablet is placed in a bag with the card still inserted. Other tablets have the card seated flush with the casing, which I prefer.
  • I love having USB ports on all three sides of the XT. This allows me to use my EV-DO modem to accommodate any direction I’m holding the Tablet. That flexibility is a huge plus for mobile tablet users.
  • Rotating between landscape and portrait is very, very quick. It isn’t instant, but it is the quickest rotation I’ve used on any tablet pc.
  • The experience is the smoothest and least troublesome I’ve used yet. I have yet to experience one of those well known Vista docking / monitor issues. In addition, I have no trouble going in to sleep mode after docking. Like I said, it is smooth, trouble-free, and it just works.
  • I have found the pen to be comfortable to write with, and well balanced.
  • There are no accidental discharges with this pen, which I really like. HP’s 2710p pen is prone to accidental discharge all the time.
  • I miss the eraser head on the pen. I think Dell should make that a priority enhancement for current and future XT’s. It is just natural to have an eraser head on pens, they are standard on almost all other pens, and Dell’s should have one, too.
  • I absolutely love the page scroll buttons on the side of the screen. It is the perfect location for web browsing while in portrait mode. Getting a chance to play with the 2710p again this week made me really appreciate the Latitude XT on screen buttons and page scroller on the side of the tablet. Well done.
  • Picking up on a comment from my meeting with Ken Hinckley, I’d love to see Dell place some more buttons on the top left and right of the screen. This would allow someone to assign Ctrl actions to the buttons to use while also inking with the other hand in portrait mode – dual hand mode support!

Even with all the above notes on well the Latitude XT is working out for me and how much I appreciate the way Dell designed the XT, I have not found a compelling reason to tell people why they should spend the extra money for a Latitude XT over say HP’s 2710p, HP’s TX2051z, Fujitsu’s T2010, Toshiba’s M700, Lenovo’s X61, and others. Sure, there are many areas in which the experience is as good or better. For what I do and the areas I’m interested in testing from a natural input perspective, the Latitude XT represents a good purchase for me. However, for monetary reasons vs features / benefits, a person would be wise to look at other choices until Dell brings the price more inline with their competitors. The price needs to be inline with HP’s 2710p for me to recommend it to anyone, even with the additional features and touch enhancements.


My thoughts on the above alternative choices:

  • Most bang-for-the-buck performance Tablet PC: Toshiba M700
  • Best slate-like convertible Tablet PC: HP 2710p.
  • Best over-all convertible Tablet PC for the business user: Lenovo X61.
  • Best media-centric Tablet PC: HP tx2051z