You'd have to live in the middle of the earth not to notice the trend towards thinner mobile
devices, and even that's not a guarantee you'd miss it. Ultrabooks, ultrathins, tablets, and hybrid PCs are all sporting slimmer designs that emphasize portability, and while there are tangible benefits to building thinner gadgets, it often comes at the cost of being able to replace or upgrade the built-in battery without some serious hacking (the physical kind). As we know, that's easier said than done
tablets are no exception, which is why we were so surprised to see Dell's
Latitude 10 wield a user-replaceable battery (check out our full review
). The Latitude 10 comes standard with a 2-cell battery pack, though customers have the option of upgrading to a 4-cell extended battery. It's not out of the realm of possibility that a third-party will up the ante with a 6-cell battery or bigger, even if bulk becomes an issue at some point.
The interesting thing here is that Dell is the first major
OEM to offer what's become a luxury (versus a standard feature) on a Windows 8 tablet. We emphasize the word "major" because a company called Kupa beat them to the punch with the UltraNote X15, a Windows 8 slate with a side-loading battery. There have also been options in the Android arena, such as Toshiba's Thrive 10.1, though all of these have been exceptions to the norm.
Dell's decision to implement a replaceable battery on the Latitude 10 is significant in light of the move towards a tighter integration of parts, and it could be the difference in someone's buying decision. Just ask any person who purchased a Samsung Galaxy S III instead of an iPhone 4S/5 and they'll tell you that one of the deciding factors is that they want to be able to replace the battery when it dies, rather than being forced to chuck the entire phone in the garbage bin.
That's the difference. When it comes to shopping smartphones, buyers don't accept that non-removable batteries are just the way it is, because that's not the way it has to be. There are options. In stark contrast, Ultrabooks and tablets are being sold without non-removable batteries with little resistance, but that's because there many alternatives. Kudos to Dell for showing that it doesn't have to be that way.