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Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC - Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



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Looking around the Latitude XT you'll find plenty of connectivity crammed in, though as hinted at earlier there's no integrated optical drive. How great a problem this is will depend on the individual. If you want it primarily for its Tablet PC capabilities then it shouldn't pose too great a problem, but if you want as an everyday machine and portable workhorse then it's worth considering how often you use an optical drive before opting for the XT.

Getting back to connectivity, starting at the left edge you'll find the stylus recess and next to that is a pop out antenna for the integrated HSDPA module. This is removable, so if you happen to break it you can simply pull it out and purchase a replacement. Also, above the stylus recess, is an LED that blinks when it's not housed - just in case you ever forget to put it back. Joining these two features is a 4-pin FireWire port and a USB port, with the rest of the space taken up by an exhaust vent and the single, suitably puny speaker.

Moving to the right you'll find a hardware wireless on/off switch and a Wi-Fi Catcher button. Then there's another USB port, followed by a 54mm ExpressCard slot and a memory card reader just above that. Rounding off connections here are headphone and microphone jacks, with the essential Kensington lock slot present for the security minded. Indeed, there's also a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) included for extra security, with the fingerprint reader for authentication.

Finally, on the back, you'll find the DC-in, D-SUB (VGA) and Ethernet (Gigabit enabled) ports and the final USB port (three in total), with a power connection for an external drive just above it. If you opt for the MediaBase you benefit from a couple of extra USB ports, DVI, a Serial port and, of course, an optical drive.

Special mention must also be made of the tiny 45W power supply that ships with XT. On first appearance you'd be forgiven for thinking it to be something completely different, but when you realise it's the power supply it's a very pleasant surprise. Though it does mean charging is slightly slower, for portability the 45W adapter is great and you can purchase the larger 65W charger separately, or use one from any other Dell notebook if you have one handy.

Unfortunately, though the power supply is undoubtedly very thin and light, the Latitude XT itself isn't the model of svelte mechanics. Thin it is, measuring a consistent 25.4mm all the way along, but for a machine utilising an ultra-low voltage CPU its 1.73kg weight with the included 6-cell battery is on the heavy side.

This makes the purpose built InfoCase carry case a useful addition. It's nicely designed so it can be used on the move, on a factory floor, building site or other ‘remote' location, with an arm sling and handle. It also adds some protection, so you have less to fear from accidents. At £55 it's not cheap, but if you're willing to spend this much on a Tablet PC and value the real freedom it gives you, then it's definitely worth investing in.


October 19, 2008, 12:36 am

Anyone thinking of purchasing the Dell Latitude XT, especially if you are intending to deploy the tablet in a commercial environment, should be aware of a major and perverse problem with the device.

The N-Trig interfaces to the XT by an internal USB port. ANY other USB device which is plugged in may, and usually does, prevent the applet (program which controls the features) from identifying the N-Trig hardware. In addition, certain other drivers, such as iTunes Helper, may cause this problem. (Or maybe not.) This still leaves you with dual sense but without Multi-Touch and other advanced features. Unfortunately, the driver may crash, catastrophically or non-catastrophically, leaving you with no screen input at all. A re-boot MAY solve the problem, but often the driver installation is damaged, requiring a re-installation of the drivers. But the install program will not un-install if it doesn't recognise the N-Trig hardware. In this case, the alternatives are (1) restore the entire operating system from backup, (2) manually un-install by erasing all N-Trig programs and drivers then editing the registry to remove all references to N-Trig, then re-install the N-Trig software, or (3) do a complete re-install of Windows. These problems occur both with XP and Vista, 32 and 64 bit so it seems to be a pretty significant problem. What is REALLY bad is that Dell sells a MediaBase with an internal DVD drive. Using this MediaBase almost guarantees that you will destroy your system.

These problems are spread across the Internet in virtually every website relating to Dell XT. I have included links to some of these threads. Maybe 100 to 200 people have related attempting to solve this problem through Technical Support. If ANY had PERMANENTLY (longer than 1 week) solved this problem, it would be SPREAD ACROSS THE INTERNET. To the contrary, most of the posters have stated that Dell denied there was a problem at all and all related that they were totally unable to solve the problem even after hours of attempts.

These problems have existed from day one, and through three revisions of the N-Trig driver. It is inconceivable that Dell has not addressed the problem, so the fact that one cannot identify a single instance here Dell Technical Support as able to solve the problem must mean that the problem is deeply hardware or software based and won't be solved without extensive software modifications. Sadly, it may be unsolvable without replacing the hardware.

Here are the links to the Dell XT - N-Trig problem.











January 6, 2009, 4:46 pm

The N-Trig problem is just the tip of the iceberg - the Dell XT is the most unreliable computer I have ever owned.

Just run a search on the Dell XT at www.gottabemobile.com/forum and you'll see what I mean.

My 1st Dell XT had regular ATI driver hangs, tries to run through the driver recovery process 3-times then BSOD. I rebuild all with a ground-up install of Vista Business and all latest drivers etc. - same problem.

Dell diagnose 'hardware fault' and replace the mainboard. (Then wireless switch won't work any more, physically stuck - turned out to be the routing of the wires in that region).

The repair engineer informs me AFTER completing the work that the replacement mainboard is not a new item but a 'refurbished' item, this is quoted as being 'standard policy' with Dell.

Same problem re-occurs and Dell diagnose a 'hardware fault' and propose to replace the mainboard - I tell them that I am far from happy with them replacing my mainboards with 'refurbished' items. If your new car had an engine failure you wouldn't expect the manufacturer to replace it with a secondhand engine now would you!

I request that they provide a brand-new replacement but they insist that they must be allowed another repair on the existing unit - I agree on the basis that if this repair does not produce a unit free from problems then I will expect a new replacement.

So the engineer comes out again and replaces the mainboard - this produces a unit with a keyboard that doesn't work. Dell diagnose a 'hardware fault' and propose to replace the main board(!) - now I start to get a little testy!!

I had to firmly remind them of the verbal agreement I had entered into, I had made a note of the full name of the support manager I had dealt with, and that it was high time to replace the unit - which they did.

So, 3 mainboards later (including the original) I have a replacement unit - has it solved my original problem.. no! Although not as frequent as before I still experience regular hangs from the ATI display driver and they result in regular BSOD's.

I also experience continued;

1) Regular black screen 'flickers'

2) Regular failure of the N-trig Digitizer driver (as written about extensively elsewhere on the net)

3) Regular 'fits' from the screen input driver, where the cursor goes into a feverish dance around the screen which is only rectified by resetting the Touch Tuning (which is very tricky to do when the cursor is having a merry dance!)

4) Extremely unreliable wireless connectivity, requiring me to disable/re-enable the wireless connection every time I start the unit (whether from cold-boot or sleep) to gain connectivity. Sometimes I have to do this 2 or 3 times before it connects, so it can regularly take 10-15 minutes of fiddling around to gain a wireless connection.

5) Wireless connecitivity regularly drops requiring a reboot to re-connect.

6) Regular failure of the TPM chip/module to initialise on cold-boot.

Oh, and the charger failed and had to be replaced also.

Like others, I expected some 1st-generation issues - but this amount of hassle crosses the line, particularly with the typical non-ownership run-around you get where Dell blame the driver vendor - the driver vendor blames the operating system - and the operating system vendor blames the hardware vendor !

Once I have the funds to replace.. it'll be the end of my relationship with Dell!

Louis 3

May 5, 2009, 2:25 am

I use this computer in my business as a real estate professional with a software solution from Go Paperless Inc. It has allowed me to fully go paperless because i can sign secure documents right on my tablet!! I love this computer it has changed my life and business for the better. i highly recommend this computer and as far as software you can use dashboard in any business check them out http://www.gopaperless.com

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