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.