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Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC: It’s Recall Time

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The following is a guest editorial by Rob Bushway, the founder and former owner of GottaBeMobile.com.

Like many men, I take my role as a father very seriously.  It is not only my job to teach my children principles in how we live and treat each other, but also to try and model those same principles in my day to day living.

In teaching my children, one of the areas I always stress is that of servant leadership and integrity: be bold and courageous in making decisions, produce excellent work, take ownership and responsibility for decisions you make (especially where you’ve failed), and serve those whom you are called to lead. Serving others is costly, but it is what we are all called to do.

Companies are not exempt from those expectations in servant leadership. In fact, because money is often exchanged for goods and services, servant leadership should be a defacto standard in customer service and not the exception. Unfortunately, as is the case of well documented problems plaguing Dell Latitude XT customers, Dell has not lead by example.

Background

For the sake of brevity, I won’t rehash everything that has plagued the customers who own a Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC. Review the following links for some background on the XT issues:

Today

After having their hand forced in October, Dell indicated that Windows 7 drivers for the XT would be delivered in December. Well, we still don’t have the drivers, and despite calls for an updated status, there have been zero communications from Dell about when we can expect resolution. The current N-Trig Windows 7 drivers that were released in September 2009 are still buggy and have not been updated since, basically relegating my XT to paper-weight status. Others are in a similar boat. What’s worse is that many XT owners continue to experience issues they’ve experienced from day 1 with very little hope on the horizon of anything changing.

It is now day 83 since Windows 7 was launched and we are no further along than when we started. To a large extent, we are at the same place we were when the XT was first released in December 2007. Like many others, I’ve exhausted all of my patience on this issue, and on behalf of all other Latitude XT owners, I’m calling on Dell to man-up and take responsibility for a mess that is theirs and theirs only. It’s time to recall the Latitude XT.

Next Action Steps

Here are the action steps I’m calling on Dell to perform:

1)  Issue a voluntary recall of the Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC.  Customers who take advantage of the recall can either:

  1. Exchange their current XT for a non-refurbished / new-off-the-assembly line XT2 Tablet PC, with Windows 7 Professional pre-installed. The replacement system should meet or exceed the specs of their current XT. See # 2 below for the state of expected drivers.  Or;
  2. Request and receive a full refund of the purchase price of their Latitude XT system.

2)  Within 45 days of this article, issue fully compliant and working Windows 7 drivers across all system components for the XT and XT2 Tablet PC. The drivers from N-Trig will be fully functional, will not create phantom clicks, will not have digitizer issues when resuming from stand-by / hibernate, and will have zero issues when iTunes is installed. In other words, the system will work and perform as advertised.

3)  No longer use the N-Trig digitizer in any future Dell products; address the hardware design issues that contributed to the XT problems for the benefit of future Dell Tablet owners.

Dell, this is your opportunity to prove that you are serious about being a servant leader in the mobile computing industry. Do what’s right by your customers, take ownership of this problem, and deliver expedient solutions.

As the Founding Editor for GottaBeMobile.com, Rob oversaw the growth and overall direction for content, advertising, and management of the site. Keep up with Rob at RobBushway.com Send email to Rob

39 Comments

  1. Stuart Box

    01/12/2010 at 12:24 pm

    Sincere thanks Rob, for being the voice of XT users everywhere. My XT, with it’s SSD and multi-touch screen was the most expensive laptop I’ve ever purchased. I thought that Windows 7 would make it fly, but as you’ve experienced, mine is just an expensive paperweight. At this rate I’m seriously looking at a multi-touch netbook or slate to replace it. AT this point I’d never consider purchasing another Dell laptop.

  2. Trevor Claiborne

    01/12/2010 at 12:33 pm

    Here here Rob. I have a copy of Windows 7 waiting to install siting on the shelf. Right next to my Latitude. No more Dells for me after their mishandling of this situation.

  3. WellThen

    01/12/2010 at 12:59 pm

    You know, working at a large corporation where Dells are widely used, I bought and recommended their PCs for years. The only reason my whole family (we all have tablets) doesn’t have Dells is that Dell didn’t have a tablet back when tablets became available. So, I’ve purchased tablets from Fujitsu, Motion, HP (and even Acer way back when), and dealt with all of those companies with good results. All of these machines (including those recommended to co-workers and family) are aging, and will need to be replaced soon. Think I might buy (or recommend) a Dell tablet (or really, any Dell)? Not with the kind of issues I’m hearing about here.

  4. Warner Crocker

    01/12/2010 at 3:14 pm

    Well said Rob. Let’s hope some attention beyond lip service is finally paid here.

  5. everbrave

    01/12/2010 at 3:49 pm

    I completely agree with Rob! It is Dell’s mess; they are our contract partner; we bought from Dell not N-Trig!
    My XT was the worst investment I ever made in a computer. I considered it a “total loss” of investment and will not buy any Dell anymore; neither personally nor for my unit!
    The way they ignore their customer is unacceptable and is a shame! Does anybody really think that they will respond?

  6. GoodThings2Life

    01/12/2010 at 4:25 pm

    Well said, Rob… and I hope that it really happens, but somehow I don’t think the XT is on Dell’s priority list at the moment. Still, it’s a product they sold, and I agree they should be providing better support for it.

  7. Xavier

    01/12/2010 at 4:33 pm

    Completely unacceptable that they aren’t supporting a products’ upgrade to the latest Windows OS while they’re still within support window. It’s not like Windows 7 came out of nowhere.

  8. Todd G.

    01/12/2010 at 5:55 pm

    For what it’s worth, I sent a few e-mails to N-Trig, each a bit more terse and stern than the last. They finally responded with a non-committal:

    “It is our understanding that Dell will post these drivers sometime in the near future, although we have not been given a definite date.

    Thank you for visiting our website, and for taking the trouble to contact us.”

    Whatever. So frustrating. Can we do a petition of some-sort? What about the contact at Dell (Dave?) that was quoted regarding the December driver release? He had info in the past, has anyone tried to follow-up with him?

  9. Fleon

    01/12/2010 at 8:16 pm

    Good lord, Rob, get a clue.

    It’s Dell. They are insanely bad about support, customer service, and quality control. It’s your own fault for buying one.

    Next time, speak with your wallet and get a Lenovo or Fujitsu tablet.

  10. Davemath

    01/13/2010 at 8:37 am

    Rob thank you for keeping fighting for what DELL has robbed from us, that’s how I feel DELL has done with my money, MORE THAN 4.000 USD in exchange for a product that is constantly buggy. DELL had the opportunity to remedy this, but it is IGNORING us customers blatantly and EXCUSING itself by OUTRIGHT LYING saying I own a legacy product which it still was clearly on sale by DELL on DELL’s website. It seems that DELL strategy is do nothing gain time and wait for the waters to calm. Well this only encourages me to do more noise, I was frustrated and angry, now I am OUTRAGED.I was patiently waiting for DELL’s promise to release proper drivers until en of December 09, now I am motivated more than ever to start spreading the word on what is happening with DELL in whatever gadgets forum and pages I am/will be able to find.

    Rob keep up the good work. It’s good to know that somebody is fighting for its and our rights.

    Rob if you have another idea on how we can unite/pressure DELL in any way please let us know. I am not letting DELL get away with this.

    I don’t understand how DELL has achieved being where it is by treating customers as bad and dismaying, this is HORRIBLE service to its customers.

    DELL NEVER AGAIN

    Angry and Frustrated,

    David.

  11. Rob

    01/13/2010 at 9:29 am

    If any of you are serious about causing change, then I would suggest you do the following:

    1) tweet this post
    2) call Dell and point them here
    3) go to the IdeaStorm site and post your comment

    Lionel at Dell told me late yesterday afternoon that drivers should be released soon. However, this doesn’t change the fact for the past two years Dell has provided us with a machine that never worked as advertised. There are base problems here that go beyond drivers. I’m not convinced in the least that the new drivers will actually fix any of these problems. The current drivers on Dell’s site never fixed the problems with Vista and they were released.

    The Time for Recall still stands.

  12. Phuong Tran

    01/13/2010 at 2:15 pm

    Dell just released another firmware and driver for the Dell XT2 on 1/10/2010. However, I’ve tried it on my XT and it worked perfect for the last 2 days.Here the download link for windows 7 32 bit :
    http://support.dell.com/support/downloads/download.aspx?c=us&cs=2684&l=en&s=pub&releaseid=R253240&SystemID=LAT_XT2&servicetag=&os=W732&osl=en&deviceid=18588&devlib=0&typecnt=0&vercnt=2&catid=-1&impid=-1&formatcnt=1&libid=17&typeid=-1&dateid=-1&formatid=-1&fileid=370755

  13. cybertactix

    01/13/2010 at 3:26 pm

    While I sympathize with those who bought Dell XTs and are trying to enjoy the Windows 7 experience, the question is (and I honestly don’t know the answer) when you bought your XT did Dell tell you in writing that it would run Windows 7? Its kind of like buying a vehicle intended to run on one form of fossil fuel and then trying to run it on another type of fossil fuel. You it to run, but not as well as the fuel it was designed for, and it can be modified but not with parts from the manufacturer. It may well be that there is a requirement for an “aftermarket manufacturer” to provide a mod kit. I guess the real question is “How long do we reasonably expect manufacturers to provided updated drivers for technology?”

  14. Michele C

    01/13/2010 at 3:53 pm

    But there are just the same problems with HP touchsmart TX2: same n-trig screen, same problems…

  15. Rob Bushway

    01/13/2010 at 3:58 pm

    cybertactix – to fully appreciate this problem, you have to go back to when the XT was originally released. The N-Trig drivers have been extremely problematic from the very beginning, which each release not fixing any of the problems. In fact, sometimes the problems got worse. With Windows 7, a lot of these problems were supposed to be fixed. No drivers, though, and no win 7 specific drivers for other parts.

    The XT was also the very first tablet on the market to support multi-touch. It was marketed as the most future-proof tablet available for those looking forward to Windows and multi-touch. Many companies and individuals bought on that premise that this would be a future-proof purchase to Windows 7.

    The XT was Dell’s and Microsoft showcase / poster child for multitouch and how it would work in Windows 7. The problem is that it never worked properly in Vista and still doesn’t in Windows 7.

    I’m sorry, but the analogies are not the same.

  16. Rob Bushway

    01/13/2010 at 4:03 pm

    Michelle – that is correct. Dell, HP, and Microsoft need to be putting the headlock on N-Trig and squeezing really hard. These issues might also explain why we don’t see an n-trig digitizer on HP’s newest tablet, the TM2.

    I’d suggest HP owners start carrying the rally flag and get some action going.

    Customer’s need to put pressure on their OEMs. N-Trig won’t respond to us…

  17. Rob Bushway

    01/13/2010 at 4:11 pm

    @phuong – thanks for that link. However, n-trig’s digitizers are OEM and model specific. I wouldn’t advise anyone to install the XT2 driver on their XT – you run the real risk of making your digitizer non-functional.

  18. Osiris

    01/14/2010 at 8:08 am

    Anyone else tried the new XT2 n-trig drivers? Im pretty tempted to tbh, whilst using those drivers for the digitiser is more risky, some of the other XT2 Win7 drivers have worked quite well.

    Ill let you know how I go, with its bugs at the moment it just sits in its case not getting used anyway, the hope for M/T and reliably inking experience with Win7 is worth it.

  19. Osiris

    01/14/2010 at 8:13 am

    I mean XT2 drivers on the XT. I am unfortunately stuck with the test model that is the original XT, like the rest of the frustrated early adopting masses.

  20. rob

    01/14/2010 at 8:19 am

    I would strongly advise against installing the xt2 drivers on the xt…you risk ruining the digitizer

  21. Andreas

    01/14/2010 at 10:12 am

    Dell’s press release also explicitly mentioned the multi-touch capabilities:

    “The Latitude XT is designed with the future in mind with the capability to support multi-touch. As the technology matures, the system can serve as a premiere development platform for applications that can take advantage of multi-touch.”

    http://content.dell.com/us/en/corp/d/press-releases/2007-12-10-00-tabletpc.aspx.aspx

  22. thecold

    01/14/2010 at 1:01 pm

    I’m not going to disagree with you, but I’m going to install it on my half dead xt anyways (it was thrown from a broken backpack and then dropped from a piano). I was also one of those people who installed the first xt2 drivers on it. I do agree with you on one front though, for many Vista was painful (for me it worked just fine, no itunes) when later drivers came out it seemed to be less finicky. When W7 came out, I wanted to drop my computer into a bucket of water.

  23. syn

    01/14/2010 at 11:33 pm

    Can you do a class action lawsuit or take them to small claims court? The tablet never worked as advertised sounds like fraud to me.

  24. Chris S (aximbigfan)

    01/15/2010 at 12:21 am

    ..Because there is a lack of distress mode on the digitizer for reloading the firmware….. Again, failure on N-trig. If it reflashes, it has a distress mode. I can’t think of many devices that don’t in this day and age.

    One of those emails I posted on the group and “Spammed” Dell with got someone’s attention. I got a call from someone with Dell while I was at the post office, and he is going to call back tomorrow.

    Whoever he is, he understands that I am not looking for tech support, I am looking for drivers that don’t fail.

  25. Chris S (aximbigfan)

    01/15/2010 at 12:21 am

    Ugh, that was suppose to be in reply to Rob’s comment about hosing up the digitizer.

  26. Matt

    01/17/2010 at 10:05 am

    Is anyone on here a lawyer or know a lawyer? Perhaps we really should start putting into action our words and really put some heat on Dell and N-Trig. My XT has NEVER performed as advertised and it seems that I am suppose to accept this.

  27. Hubble

    01/18/2010 at 5:18 pm

    Since buying the XT, I have had almost every part replaced. Granted I did get it from the outlet. I had a Gateway tablet-PC for two years before it finally gave up and died from a short in the wring that snaked though the hinge.

    I have gotten the top, bottom, motherboard, screen, and battery. The only part that is still the same as when I got it would be the hard-drive, keyboard and the power brick. It is not even a year since I bought it. (I did get it from the Dell Outlet Store)

    I would really love if I could actually use my tablet for the reason that I shelled out so much money. I would love to be able to sit down, take notes on it and actually have them look like something that may be readable. I’d love if my computer did not randomly click the start bar and open random programs. I’d love if touch actually worked. I’d love if my mouse actually worked, where it did not go haywire and start to act really funny.

    Right now, I have touch turned off, I don’t use my pen, because of the random straight lines.

    Really all I want is a work horse like my Gateway tablet. I gave it hell and all it did was ask for more. It took the techs at Circuit City to finally do it in. I thought that the Dell XT was that work horse. I was wrong.

  28. sbtablet

    01/18/2010 at 7:32 pm

    I am still very puzzled about why Dell and N-Trig between them cannot work the bugs out of the XT’s digitizer problems. Unlike Rob, I still see the potential of the N-Trig digitizer.
    Mine works beautifully (and I do mean beautifully, I love the feel of the XT writing and touch when it’s working) for ten or fifteen minutes and then touch drops out. Without warning.
    Just quits.

    Because of problems with the new Windows 7 drivers, I have taken to turning off touch when I am doing a lot of inking, because I keep randomly opening programs from the taskbar when my hand rests against the screen. Now that they’ve killed auto mode, this is a multi-step annoyance.

    It really is unfathomable WHY they can’t/won’t address the bugs! People giving away free software are constantly striving to put out bug fixes and make their product as good as it can possibly be. You would think people SELLING a $3,000 tablet pc would be at least as anxious to address problems and keep their customers.

  29. ringtail

    01/19/2010 at 3:48 pm

    Kudos to you, Rob for being so vigilant. Since joining the XT family almost 2 years ago, I have gone through the entire spectrum of emotions regarding the XT, N-trig, et al. Sadly, to add to my frustration, I am now receiving a pop-up saying my battery is nearing the end of it’s normal and natural life. Murphy’s Law and the XT go hand in hand apparently.

  30. Dov0

    01/19/2010 at 4:41 pm

    DELL XTinks

  31. Shan

    01/20/2010 at 3:22 am

    I have friends with HP tx2000 series tablets (which were much cheaper than my Latitude XT) who are much happier with their computers. I guess it serves me right for buying a first-generation product from a company that’s never been known for creating anything new.

    I’m not too experienced in the way of corporate recalls and such – is there any chance that Rob’s call might actually be answered?

  32. eallan

    01/24/2010 at 11:27 am

    Wholeheartedly agree. The issues with this tablet have become so numerous over it’s life. As i type this the n-trig digitizer is phantom clicking all over the place.

  33. techgeek32

    01/27/2010 at 3:12 pm

    Hi Gang,

    Just wanted to let everyone know that I sent an email to Michael Dell’s address and in fact received a response. After being escalated to a manager of some sort Dell is going to replace my refurbed XT with a brand new XT2. I won’t get to name my specs but I just received the order confirmation last night.

    I would recommend that everyone contact Dell directly and express your discontent. My guess is that they realize there is nothing they can do about the XT and don’t want to be hit with a class-action lawsuit.

    Cheers!

  34. Shan

    01/27/2010 at 4:23 pm

    Wow, that’s great news. Can you please tell us what you said in the email?

  35. Rob

    01/27/2010 at 4:43 pm

    Shan: based on that info, and what I’m hearing from others, I would encourage anyone with XT issues to call Dell and get your case going.

    I’m hearing lots of reports of Dell sending replacement systems (which is common policy for them when customers get lemons – they have a lemon policy), although depending on your case that may not happen for you.

  36. Matt (rollingsr)

    01/27/2010 at 8:42 pm

    So, I opened another case with Dell tonight but the tech didn’t even bother to offer to help. I did send an e-mail to a support tech (and her manager) who handled my system swap because of issues I was having with the TPM. What is Michael Dell’s e-mail address? I have no problems sending him a note…I just want this problem fixed.

  37. ringtail

    01/27/2010 at 8:58 pm

    I went ahead and opened a warranty case tonight. I have been getting BSOD’d way too often lately and so I let this issue take the lead for my current list of complaints. I have prepared a concise list of specific issues and am prepared to fight to the death…of my XT. Good luck to all who take up the cause.

  38. VMLPhoto

    01/27/2010 at 11:17 pm

    I’ve had a case open for about two weeks now, trying to fix a “malfunctioning keyboard”. Dell have tried to swap out two keyboards, and a system board before sending it to the depot. When I received my XT back today, it worked for about five minutes before becoming unresponsive again. So I’ve called Dell, and they informed me that I will be receiving a swap. I’m really hoping for an XT2 and not a refurbed XT. Is that wishful thinking?

  39. Scoop Jackson

    03/26/2013 at 10:31 am

    Try disabling or removing the internal wireless cards. In my case it was the minipci wifi card. The antenna is built in to the display behind the lcd screen and the phantom touches were occurring where the wifi antenna feeds are. I just started using a cheap mini usb wifi-n adapter.

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