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Despite Dell covering practically every eventuality with its Latitude range of business notebooks it's only recently that the company has offered a Tablet PC option. Given the niche appeal of such machines this wasn't a great surprise, though given this made it all the more unusual when Dell decided to finally announce such an option toward the end of last year. Its offering, named the Latitude XT, has been something of an elusive beast since then and despite being on sale for a while, we've only now managed to get our notebook evaluating hands on one. Is it what every Tablet PC devotee has been waiting for?
Well, if it is then said devotee will need to be a well heeled individual, because the Latitude XT isn't some kind of cheap throwaway item: it's seriously expensive. Even the base spec, which features an Intel Core 2 Duo U7600 ULV CPU, 1GB 533MHz DDR2 and a 1.8in 40GB 4200rpm PATA HDD will set you back £1,129 excluding VAT (£1,326.48 inc. VAT) - an awful lot of money for a modest sounding notebook. Throw in a few extras some might deem necessities and the price quickly increases; for example, upgrading to 2GB RAM and a 120GB HDD and adding an external 8x DVD+/-RW drive pushes the price to just over £1,300 exc. VAT.
And, as with our sample, when you start specifying some of eminently desirable accessories and extra features one could end up spending a great deal. In this instance our system came equipped with the aforementioned 1.2GHz U7600 CPU, the only option available, 2GB of RAM, a 120GB 5400rpm HDD, integrated 3G HSDPA, Draft N wireless and Bluetooth 2.0, along with the £160 MediaBase docking station with integrated 8x DVD+/-RW optical drive and the purpose designed InfoCase Tablet PC Case, a £55 extra. Presuming you specify all these options you'll be shelling out £1,551.90 exc. VAT - £1,823.48 with VAT included. Do you reckon you could sneak that through an expense claim?
Of course, if you really wanted to go to town you could opt for the 32GB or 64GB SSDs, but then things would just be getting out of hand. Can the Latitude XT possibly justify such expense? If you absolutely must have a Tablet PC then it may well do, but it certainly helps that Dell hasn't skimped on the finish and construction of the XT.
Upon opening the box everyone in the office was impressed with both the look and feel of the XT. Finished almost exclusively in graphite grey/black brushed aluminium it's quite a departure from the rest of the Latitude range, perhaps having more in common with the rumoured E-Series Latitudes that have yet to see the light of day.
It's a look that's quite flattering, too. Whereas the rest of the Latitude range is fairly restrained, the XT has a sense of class and exclusivity that certainly reflects the price. One might dare call it ThinkPad-esque. But, though this doubtless has an impact on the price of the XT, it's the touch screen that's the star of the show.