At Dell's product showcase we had some proper hands-on time with the Latitude XT3, a 13in convertible tablet laptop sporting Sandy Bridge internals, decent connectivity, a backlit keyboard, and both capacitive and stylus input.
Unfortunately, due to the rise of the tablet (spearheaded by the iPad 2 for IOS and the Transformer for Android), the convertible tablet laptop has lost popularity in the consumer space. Consequently, older models like the Packard Bell Butterfly Touch and HP Tm2 haven't received updates. This leaves the X220T, 2760p and convertibles from Fujitsu as today's major players. So how does Dell's entrant hold up?
Judging by looks it's a stunner, though it maintains a somewhat industrial aesthetic. Gone is the all-black exterior of Dell's previous XT2, replaced by a three-tone metallic design with subtle orange trim. The lid sports a faux brushed metal finish that looks just like the real thing, surrounded by a silver aluminium outer strip. Inside, the black keyboard surround sports a soft-touch finish that feels great, while the matt black keyboard is bordered by a metallic silver strip and orange trim.
Like Lenovo's X220T, it's quite boxy. There are no tapered edges, though its corners are rounded. As long as you like orange, it's an attractive design that does its bit to stand out from the crowd.
We found build quality on this pre-production model to be excellent. There's no unwanted flex or creak, and the 180 degree hinge offers a solid, smooth action. The display swivels effortlessly either left or right (unlike on the X220T, which only swivels in one direction), and is held in place either in laptop or tablet orientations by a lock switch.
It is virtually silent in operation and quite comfortable to hold, though definitely a tad on the heavy side. Though Dell wouldn't confirm its weight, we were given a guesstimate of 1.8kg, which felt about right. It's heavier than most convertibles, but don't forget that this is a 13in machine, where most rivals are around 12 or 11 inches.
Connectivity is good. The only major casualty is USB 3.0, though it's not unusual to find this lacking on business-oriented machines. Along the left edge there's mini-Firewire, a USB 2.0 port, a headphone/microphone combi jack and an SDHC card reader (Dell representatives couldn't confirm whether it also supports the newer SDXC standard).
The back houses HDMI and VGA for video, along with a Gigabit Ethernet socket. To the right you'll find a SecureCard slot, wireless switch, combined eSATA/USB 2.0 port and a third USB 2.0 connector.
Internals are up to scratch, including your choice of Intel's new Sandy Bridge processors. Our demo model sported a Core i7-2620M running at 2.7GHz. This is backed by 4GB of DDR3 RAM and a selection of hard drive sizes. Graphics are of Intel's integrated variety, but this is no longer the caveat it once was, and should help the 44Wh battery achieve reasonable life away from a socket.
Wi-Fi n, Bluetooth and a webcam of unspecified resolution round off the picture. Running on this hardware you'll get the 32-bit edition of Windows 7 Professional, which gives greater compatibility than its 64-bit counterpart.