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Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC - Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell



Our Score:


Unfortunately, as is often the case with Tablet PCs, though the Latitude XT excels in many ways it is let down somewhat by its performance. Raw performance in applications is solid enough, as good as one would expect from a notebook utilising a low power CPU. In PCMark 05 and Vantage it matches the similarly specified Sony VAIO VGN-TZ31MN in every test, though the SSD power of the Lenovo ThinkPad X300 means it tramples over the both of them. If this is a concern, there are predictably expensive SSD drives available.

This all remains much the same in our in-house Photoshop Elements and Virtual Dub tests, though the Sony does edge out of Latitude XT in both tests. It's in the MobileMark 2007 battery tests, however, where the XT really disappoints. In the productivity test it managed a surprisingly conservative two hours and 58 minutes, a long way away from the excesses of the Sony TZ or the ThinkPad X300. Indeed, though all the results would rank as reasonable for a normal laptop, for a machine utilising a low power CPU, the results were pretty poor.

So, why the poor results? Unlike other machines in its class it uses ATI integrated graphics, but this ought not to make that great a difference, so the finger must be pointed at the capacitive screen. Given that it requires a constant electrical current makes this is a reasonable assumption, so clearly there's a trade-off to be had for the increased accuracy and quality of the screen.

The question is whether the battery life a deal breaker for the Latitude XT. Predictably, it depends on your priorities. If you're choosing between a normal ultra-portable like the ThinkPad X300 or Sony TZ Series and the Tablet PC functionality is only a secondary, then either of those would be better options. Ultimately, the below average battery performance makes the XT a less than ideal everyday ultra-portable.

If, however, you're more interested in the Tablet PC functionality and specifically need it, then the Latitude XT makes a far stronger case of itself. Yes, you will need an extra battery when working remotely for long periods, but when it comes to tablet based use, the XT provides an experience that's a definitive step up from any Tablet PC based on regular resistive screen technology. It's still not quite perfect, but it's a significant step in the right direction.


Its price and relatively weak battery life count against the Dell Latitude XT when compared to normal ultra-portable notebooks. However, if it's a Tablet PC you must have then its superbly accurate and clear screen make a persuasive argument, provided you can justify the expense.


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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