|Introduction and Specifications|
Are business oriented tablets such as the Dell Latitude 10 better suited for the workplace than popular mainstream tablets such as the iPad? Dell believes their solutions are. Last month, Dell issued a press release in which it claimed its Latitude 10 Enhanced Security tablet is "up to 17 times faster and 94 percent less expensive to deploy than iPads in large scale enterprise implementations." Those are bold claims with very specific figures to back them up.
Regardless of how you feel about Apple, Dell, or another manufacturer's products, one thing is certain: the use of tablets for business purposes is gaining significant traction. Recognizing that different users have different needs, Dell is attempting to cater to a variety of usage models with its Latitude 10 tablet. This tablet is designed to provide the convenience and mobility of a tablet, along with the productivity capabilities a full PC offers. Since the Latitude 10 runs a full version of Windows 8 Pro, you can run all of your business applications on the system as well. For users who want the desktop-like experience, Dell also offers an optional productivity dock along with a number of other optional accessories for the Latitude 10.
Another key feature of the Latitude 10 is the fact that it features a removable battery—something you don't see very often in a tablet. Dell offers the battery in two sizes giving you added flexibility for power that will last throughout the day. According to Dell, you can get up to 10 hours of battery life using the tablet under various conditions.
For situations when security is of utmost concern, Dell offers an Enhanced Security version of the Latitude 10 tablet which includes Dell Data Protection/Access that uses fingerprint, smart card reader, and third-party security technology; Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2 hardware; Microsoft BitLocker Drive Encryption; Computrace support for tracking a lost or stolen device; and a Noble Lock slot.
Before we dive in to the full hands-on review, let's take a closer look at the specifications of our test system:
In this review, we are taking a hands-on look at the Latitude 10 Productivity edition which is a high-end model of the tablet. With the Productivity edition, you'll get key features such as HDMI and a removable battery. (A swappable battery, HDMI port, and micro-USB charging port are not available with the Essential edition of this tablet.) Dell was also kind enough to send us the optional docking station, Wacom Active Stylus, Dell KM713 Compact Wireless Keyboard and Mouse, Soft-touch case, and a spare 60Wh battery. That's a whole bunch of accessibility features packed up and ready to go - a nice array of options completing the package. Let's take a look...
The Latitude 10 is housed in a magnesium alloy frame that is covered with soft-touch paint for durability and grip. The screen features Corning Gorilla Glass for added toughness. The entire tablet has a black finish.
The Latitude 10 has the same screen size and resolution (10.1-inch, 1366 X 768) as the Acer Iconia Tab W510, but the Latitude 10 has a larger bezel and thus is a bit larger overall. Centered above the screen, you'll find the 2.0 megapixel HD front facing video webcam and an ambient light sensor. A slightly concave Start button is located below the screen in the center. This is an actual Start button, not a touch-sensitive button.
On the left edge of the Latitude 10, you'll find a security lock slot along with the volume rocker. The right edge of the tablet contains the audio connector, full-size USB port, and a mini HDMI connector.
The top edge of the Latitude 10 houses two microphone holes, full size SD card reader, power LED, power button, and a screen rotation lock button. The base of the Latitude 10 contains a micro USB port that can also be used for charging the tablet, docking / power connector, and a battery status LED.
When you turn the tablet over, you'll find the 8.0 megapixel rear facing camera with LED flash. It's easy to spot the removable battery as well as the battery latch located near the base of the tablet in the center. You'll also notice speaker grills on both sides.
The optional docking station for the Latitude 10 measures 4.8 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches (WxDxH) and weighs 28 ounces. With the docking station, you'll get additional ports for the Latitude 10 including an Ethernet port, headphone/speaker jack, HDMI port, and four USB ports (one in front, three on the back side).
You’ll want to pay close attention when docking the Latitude 10 on the dock. You’ll need to align the connector perfectly (it’s easy to do if you’re looking at the tablet and dock) and then tilt the tablet back to rest on the docking station. When tilted back, the tablet is locked to the stand. It’s easy to remove the tablet with one hand by rotating the tablet forward slightly and lifting up. The dock works fine with both the 2-cell and the optional 4-cell extended battery.
The wireless keyboard and mouse combo Dell sent with the Latitude 10 also had a black finish. The mouse and keyboard share a single micro receiver that we plugged in to one of the rear USB ports on the docking station. By combining the Latitude 10 with the docking station and a full-size keyboard and mouse, you really get the best combination of a portable system along with the comfort and speed of using a full-size keyboard and mouse.
Dell doesn’t include a lot of preloaded apps with the Latitude 10, and we really appreciate this. You’ll find Dell’s Getting Started guide and Backup and Recovery apps on the tablet. That’s it. Since we’re not fans of preinstalled software, we give Dell a lot of credit for leaving the Latitude 10 alone and letting users decide which apps they want to install.
The system has a 64GB Solid State Drive. Although Windows takes up a decent chunk of this hard drive, there’s still 39.3GB of free space out of the box. If the onboard storage isn’t enough to meet your needs, you can easily pop in a full-size SD card or a USB flash drive for added space.
The native screen resolution on the Latitude 10 is 1,366 x 768. Overall, the screen is colorful and vibrant and viewing angles are excellent but there were times where we wished the screen supported a higher resolution.
If you take a look at the Windows Experience Index, you will see the Latitude 10 earns a score of 3.3. Keep in mind the Latitude 10 isn't designed to be a powerhouse system. Instead, it's designed to be a very portable and affordable Windows 8 tablet that offers some additional functionality with the use of the optional dock, peripherals, and swappable battery.
Dell's Backup and Recovery tool comes loaded on the Latitude 10. AT&T's AllAccess app can help you find a nearby Wi-Fi hotspot.
Next, we'll take a look at how the Dell Latitude 10 tablet compares to other tablets by running and examining a few benchmarks that are currently available. Because this system combines the portability of a tablet with Windows 8, we will compare the Latitude 10 to both ultrabooks and tablets.
We began our testing with SiSoftware's SANDRA, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran four of the built-in subsystem tests (CPU Arithmetic, Multimedia, Memory Bandwidth, File System).
As you can see, the dual-core Z2760 earns third place but holds its own compared to other Atom processors in the Processor Arithmetic test. In the Multi-Media test, the Z2760 in the Latitude 10 again earns the third spot and performs well in comparison to the competition. When looking at the Memory Bandwidth and File System Bandwidth tests, the story is very similar: The Latitude 10 may not earn the top spot, but it's not far behind the competition either. Given that the Latitude 10 has very similar hardware specifications as the Acer Iconia W510, we weren’t surprised to see similar results between the tablets.
Futuremark’s PCMark 7 is a well-known benchmark tool that runs the system through ordinary tasks, including word processing and multimedia playback and editing. Graphics and processor power figure prominently in this benchmark, but graphics power doesn’t play as big a role here as it does in another Futuremark benchmark, 3DMark (which is designed for testing the system’s gaming capabilities).
We didn’t expect the Latitude 10 to compete with Ultrabooks in PCMark 7 but we did throw in Toshiba's lower-end Core i3 powered machine, just for reference. However, it is interesting to compare the Latitude 10 to the similarly-equipped Iconia W510. In looking at these two machines side-by-side, you can see that the Latitude 10 outscored the Iconia W510 and Lenovo's ThinkPad Tablet 2 by a small margin.
Dell’s Latitude 10 earns a respectable score in the SunSpider test, taking its place among other systems in the upper half of the chart. However, you’ll notice the similarly-equipped Samsung ATIV 500T and Acer Iconia W510 outscore the Latitude 10.
Not too long ago, Rightware created a newer generation of its BrowserMark benchmark that uses a new scoring scale. As a result, our comparison systems are a bit more limited and we've included a couple of smartphones in the mix here, just for reference.
Even though Rightware said our browser was superior to 14% of all desktop browsers, the Latitude 10 scored well in this test if you compare it to many of the mobile devices we have for comparison. The Latitude 10 managed to score a few more points than the Iconia W510 which is the only other Windows 8 device in this chart.
In an attempt to quantitatively measure the Latitude 10's battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran both Battery Eater Pro and our own Hot Hardware web browsing test where we set up a webpage with a mix of graphics, Flash media and text. The page automatically refreshes every three minutes, we loop the page and disable sleep and hibernate modes. Battery life is measured down to the minute the tablet shuts down. The Wi-Fi radio is enabled in this test to simulate battery life in real-world web browsing over a wireless connection. The stock browser was used. For both tests, we set the Latitude 10's display to 50% brightness, which is still plenty bright and easy on the eyes.
When using the optional extended-life 4-cell battery, the Latitude 10 boasted of the longest battery life in comparison to all other devices we’ve tested; the Latitude 10 lasted over 18 hours in our Hot Hardware web browsing test. Using the stock 2-cell battery, the Latitude 10 took fourth place just behind the Acer Iconia W510 tablet.
The story is much the same in the Battery Eater tests: Dell’s Latitude 10 earned the top spot by a comfortable margin when using the optional extended-life 4-cell battery. When using the stock 2-cell battery, the Latitude 10 again took fourth place however this time it outlasted the Iconia W510 by a small margin.
Windows 8 tablets have the potential for a wide range of uses thanks to their combination of portability and functionality. Dell extends the functionality of the Latitude 10 by offering a number of accessories for the tablet. The most notable of these accessories include a docking station with additional ports and an extended-life battery. Of course, Dell also offers wireless keyboards and mice, cases, a stylus, and other accessories you’d expect to be able to use with a Windows 8 tablet.
In our benchmark tests, the Dell Latitude 10 performed well. It consistently earned solid scores for its class of product. You can’t expect a system such as the Latitude 10 to compete with a Core i3 or Core i5-based system with dedicated graphics, but it will hold its own in comparison to other Atom-based tablets or Android/ARM solutions that are designed for mobile use. Overall, we were pleased with the performance of the tablet during our time with it.
We weren’t overly fond of the docking connector found on the docking station for the Latitude 10 but it’s a minor annoyance and the dock serves its purpose. We also wished the Latitude 10 had a higher resolution display. As it is, the screen resolution of 1,366 x 768 left us wanting just a bit more in certain applications, though it certainly wasn't a showstopper.
The fact that the Latitude 10 has a user-swappable battery will be a key feature to business users who are on the go and want to use this tablet during a long workday. The longevity of the Latitude 10 using either the 2-cell stock battery or the extended 4-cell battery is excellent. Since the Latitude 10 runs on a full version of Windows 8, you’ll also have the ability to run any and all of your favorite Windows 8 apps—another key feature for business users.
All in all, the Latitude 10 tablet has a lot to offer including swappable batteries, a full version of Windows 8, storage expansion options, connectivity options and ports, and much more. If you’ve been thinking about getting a Windows 8 tablet and want one that offers a number of usage scenarios, accessories, and ports, the Latitude 10 is a versatile option, starting at $499, that should definitely make your shot list of devices to consider.