Dell’s Latitude 10 tablet is a fascinating creature. It’s the only tablet we’ve come across so far—and most likely the only one that exists—with a removable battery. It isn’t trying to be the slimmest or lightest model around, which sets it apart from everything else on the market. It uses an Atom CPU and doesn’t bother much with multimedia bells and whistles. It’s built for business, although it isn’t clear how many of its target users would willingly trade their laptops in for tablets.
In a world rapidly filling with hybrid Ultrabooks, the Latitude 10 is just a tablet—there’s no keyboard dock and no twisting or transforming body. A plastic stylus is included in the box, for scribbling notes and drawing diagrams. A docking stand, available separately, adds four USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet and a full-sized HDMI port, but you’ll have to add your own monitor, keyboard and/or mouse to turn it into a desk-bound workstation.
The removable battery is the most notable feature of this tablet.
Design and Features
While most phones and tablets these days look like they were designed to win beauty pageants, the Latitude 10 is staid and sober. The bezel around the screen is surprisingly wide, and the sides and back are encased in rubberized plastic for a good grip. There’s a lone USB 2.0 port on the right edge, along with a mini HDMI output and a 3.5mm stereo headset port. The top edge houses the power button, rotation lock button, SD card slot and twin stereo microphones. There’s a volume rocker and Kensington security slot on the right edge, and two options for charging—the proprietary dock connector and a standard micro USB port—are all you’ll find on the bottom. That’s it for physical input and output, but of course there’s Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for wireless connectivity. Cellular data isn’t supported on the unit we tested.
The all-glass front panel is broken only by the mandatory Windows 8 Start button, which is a physical button rather than a touch-sensitive point. The bezel around the screen is over an inch thick on each side, detracting somewhat from the unit’s looks. You won’t be able to see the front-facing camera and its LED indicator above the screen unless you look quite hard. The most interesting side of this tablet is the back, thanks to the removable battery. The 30 Watt-hour battery which came with our test unit fits flush with the rest of the rear panel, but an optional 60 Watt-hour pack will stick out around 5mm. The retention mechanism is surprisingly and reassuringly tough. Above the battery, you’ll find the 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash.
We’re getting used to seeing Windows 8 on devices of all shapes and sizes, and there’s nothing new or unique about how the Latitude 10 does things. The, 16:9, 1366 x 768-pixel LED-backlit IPS screen has truly excellent viewing angles but is just far too low-res at 10 inches to look good enough next to competitors with 1080p or better screens. 16:9 is also pretty awkward for anything but watching videos, so it’s surprising that Dell didn’t outfit its business-centric tablet with something better. The screen can detect 10 touch points and has an active digitizer, which works with the bundled stylus and Windows’ on-screen input panel to enable handwriting recognition. You can also use pressure-sensitive pens (such as those from Wacom) for more accurate sketching.
The Latitude 10 comes with a simple plastic stylus.
Built-in storage tops out at 64 GB and there’s 2 GB of non-upgradeable DDR2-800 RAM. Dell’s Latitude line is targeted squarely at business, and products such as the Latitude 10 come with options for specialized on-site service, inventory management, data recovery or secure deletion, remote management, etc. The device also uses Intel’s Trusted Platform Module 1.2 architecture for encryption and security in corporate environments.
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