Dell Latitude 10 review

Dell Latitude 10 review

Summary: The Atom-based Latitude 10 is short on performance, but delivers excellent battery life — especially with the optional 4-cell battery. Although some aspects of the industrial design and build quality could be better, this is a decent business-class Windows 8 tablet.

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  • Editors' rating:
    7.5
  • User rating:
    6.8

Pros

  • Very good battery life (with optional 4-cell battery)
  • Pen input support
  • Desktop dock option
  • Mobile broadband option
  • Business-class security and manageability

Cons

  • Sluggish performance
  • Design and build quality could be better
  • Options erode the initially attractive-looking price
  • USB 2.0 ports rather than USB 3.0

Windows 8 tablets, as opposed to convertibles of various kinds, are often ultrabook-class devices with third-generation Core processors that usually have some sort of optional keyboard attachment that effectively turn them into ultrabooks. The canonical example is Microsoft's Surface Pro, which costs between $899 (64GB, no keyboard cover) and $1,129 (128GB plus Type Cover).

Another species of Windows 8 tablet is exemplified by Dell's Latitude 10, reviewed here: this business-class slate tablet runs a less powerful (but less power-hungry) Atom processor and has a useful optional desktop dock, but no keyboard attachment. Preconfigured Latitude 10 bundles start at $499 (32GB, non-removable battery) and top out at $849 (64GB, removable 2-cell battery, mobile broadband, dock). If you add options, the price can go higher, of course.

Our review model, with 2GB of RAM, 64GB of SSD storage, mobile broadband, a 4-cell 60Wh battery ($79), the desktop dock, a Wacom stylus ($49) and a soft case ($39.99), came in at $1,016.99.

dell-lat-10-tab-page
The Latitude 10 runs Intel's 1.8GHz Atom Z2760 with 2GB of RAM. The 10.1in. IPS screen has a resolution of 1,366 by 768 pixels. It weighs 658g with the standard battery, or 820g with the optional high-capacity battery. (Image: Dell)

Design
A black-clad slate-style 10.1in. tablet with edge-to-edge Gorilla Glass, the best one can say of the Latitude 10's industrial design is that it's unobtrusive. A tablet to show off with it is not.

The display itself is a high-quality 1,366-by-768-pixel IPS unit with very good viewing angles. From the front, there's little else to distract you, beyond a Windows button in the middle of the bezel, at the bottom, which takes you to the Start screen — or from there to the last app you were using. The only Dell branding is discreetly on the back, in shiny black contrast to the otherwise matt-black livery. There are front (2MP) and rear (8MP with flash) cameras, plus a selection of buttons, ports and slots around the edges.

With the standard 2-cell battery fitted, the Latitude 10 is noticeably thinner than the Surface Pro, measuring 10.5mm (0.4in.) compared to 13.5mm (0.53in.). With the optional 4-cell battery, which protrudes slightly from the back, the maximum thickness rises to 15.9mm. Dell's tablet weighs less whatever battery is fitted (658g/820g versus 903g) and is much less angular, with gently rounded corners and none of the Surface's chamfering on the sides.

dell-lat-10-4cell
The optional 4-cell (60Wh) battery protrudes about 5mm from the back of the Latitude 10. The battery compartment houses a Micro-SIM card slot for the optional HSPA+ mobile broadband module. (image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet)

The battery compartment is at the back: the standard 2-cell 30Wh unit fits flush with the surface, while the 4-cell 60Wh we were supplied with protrudes by about half a centimetre. Irritatingly, on our review sample at least, the battery-release latch was very fiddly to operate. When you do get the battery out, you'll find a Micro-SIM card slot in the compartment. Also, with the high-capacity battery fitted, it's tricky to shoehorn the tablet into the optional soft case. On the plus side, the folio case does include a housing for the optional Wacom active stylus, although there's no on-tablet home for it.

dell-lat-10-case
Dell's optional soft-touch case provides a housing for the Wacom Active Stylus (another option), and can act as a stand. There's no keyboard attachment for the Latitude 10 though. (Image: Charles McLellan/ZDNet)

The tablet itself is sparsely equipped with ports and slots: there's a single USB 2.0 port on the right-hand side, along with a Mini-HDMI connector and a microphone/headphone combo jack. The left side has a volume rocker and a Kensington lock slot. At the top there's an SD card slot, the power button and a screen-autorotate on/off toggle button. The bottom houses the docking/charging connector and a Micro-USB port.

dell-lat-10-dock
The optional dock has three USB 2.0 ports at the back and a fourth at the front, plus Ethernet, HDMI and audio-out ports. The angle at which the tablet sits is not adjustable. (Image: Dell)

The dock is a solidly built unit with four USB 2.0 ports (three at the back, one at the front), an Ethernet port, an HDMI port and an audio-out jack, along with a power connector. It's a useful addition, as many users will want to attach a keyboard, mouse and large monitor for working on desktop apps, keeping the touchscreen tablet handy for modern-style apps. However, the hinged tablet-dock connection feels a little wobbly, it only docks in landscape orientation, and the docked screen angle can't be adjusted.

Features
The Latitude 10 is built around a low-power (TDP of just 1.7W) 1.8GHz Atom Z2760 with 2GB of (non-upgradeable) RAM, running 32-bit Windows 8 Pro. Graphics are handled by the integrated PowerVR SGX 545 (Clovertrail UMA Graphics) GPU running at 533MHz.

The Latitude 10 is available with 32GB or, as on our review unit, 64GB of solid-state eMMC storage, which isn't over-generous. If you need more capacity, you'll need to bring the SD card slot or the USB port into play, or use cloud-based storage such as SkyDrive.

There's no wired Ethernet connection on the tablet itself (for that, you'll need the dock), which provides dual-band Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n) via a Broadcom chipset (along with Bluetooth 4.0). Mobile broadband, on Latitude 10 models that support it, comes courtesy of a Dell Wireless 5565 HSPA+ Mini-Card.

Business-class security and manageability features available on the Latitude 10 include firmware-based Intel Platform Trust Technology, TPM 1.2 and Dell Data Protection (encryption) software. There's also talk on Dell's website of an optional fingerprint/smartcard reader combo, although this wasn't present on our review unit.

Performance & battery life
The Atom-based Latitude 10 can only be described as a moderate performer, with a Windows Experience Index (WEI) of 3.3 out of 9.9. The overall score is determined by the lowest-ranking subsystem, which in this case is Gaming graphics (3D business and gaming graphics performance) — no surprise given the system's integrated PowerVR/Intel GPU. The remaining scores range between 3.4 and 5.5, with the best-performing subsystem being the (solid-state) storage:

dell-lat-10-wei

Turning to browser benchmarks, we can see that the Latitude 10's performance is much closer to the ARM-based Surface RT than the ultrabook-class (Core i5-based) Surface Pro

dell-lat-10-browser

It may be no great shakes as a performer, but the Latitude 10 does shine when it comes to battery life. To estimate longevity with both the 2-cell (30Wh) and 4-cell (60Wh) batteries, we measured the tablet's power consumption with a Voltcraft VC 940 Plus multimeter, under idle and load conditions, with screen brightness settings of 25, 50 and 100 percent. Dividing the resulting figures into the battery capacity gives a spread of battery life estimates under different conditions (Wh/W=h).

dell-lat-10-batt
Power consumption measurements were taken when idling at the Windows 8 Start screen and when running Microsoft's Fishbowl HTML5 test. Wi-Fi was on for all tests.

If you keep the screen brightness to around 50 percent and spend the working day with the tablet mostly doing work and sometimes idling, you can expect well over 10 hours' life with the optional 4-cell battery fitted, and around half that with the standard 2-cell battery. With the standard battery, the Latitude 10's longevity is on a par with the Surface RT and well ahead of the disappointing (in this respect) Surface Pro.

Conclusion
The Atom-based Latitude 10 cannot compete with ultrabook-class Windows 8 tablets like the Surface Pro in terms of performance. However, it delivers much better battery life — especially with the optional 4-cell battery. Although some aspects of the industrial design and build quality could be better, this is a decent business-class Windows 8 tablet.

Specifications

General
Dimensions (W x H x D) 27.4 x 1.05 x 17.7 cm
Case form factor slate tablet
Weight 0.82 kg
OS & software
Operating system Windows 8 Pro (32-bit)
Chipset & memory
RAM installed 2048 MB
RAM capacity 2 GB
Video
GPU Intel Clovertrail UMA Graphics (PowerVR SGX 545)
GPU type integrated
Video connections Micro-HDMI on tablet (HDMI on optional dock)
Display
Display technology 10-point IPS touchscreen with Gorilla Glass
Display size 10.1 in
Native resolution 1366x768 pixels
Connections
USB 1 x USB 2.0, 1 x Micro-USB 2.0 on tablet (4 x USB 2.0 on optional dock)
Docking station port yes
Flash card SD
Networking
Ethernet 10/100/1000 on optional dock
Wireless
Wi-Fi 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n
Bluetooth 4.0
Mobile broadband Dell Wireless 5565 HSPA+
Input
Pointing devices touchscreen, optional Wacom Active Stylus
Camera
2nd camera front
Flash Yes
Main camera rear
2nd camera resolution 2 megapixels
Main camera resolution 8 megapixels
Audio
Audio connectors microphone/headphone combo
Speakers stereo
Audio processor Intel SST Audio Device / Realtek I2S Audio Codec
Microphone yes
Miscellaneous
Accessories Productivity Dock, Wacom Active Stylus, Soft-Touch Case
Other AC adapter
Service & support
Standard warranty 1 year
Battery
Battery technology Li-polymer (2-cell and optional 4-cell)
Removable battery Yes
Processor & memory
Clock speed 1.8 GHz
Processor manufacturer Intel
Processor model Atom Z2760
Solid-state drive
Capacity 64 GB
Expand

Prices

Price
Price USD 1017

Topics: Tablets, Dell, Reviews, Windows 8

About

Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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Talkback

13 comments
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  • A question answered

    After reading this review of such a lackluster product, it's easy to why Microsoft decided to build the excellent Surface line of hardware products. Dell has always been one of the most stalwart of Microsoft partners. But Windows 8 based tablets are never going to catch on if this, and similar lame efforts from other big hardware vendors, are the best these thing Microsoft can expect from them for tablets.

    Whether you're a fannoy of them or not, Apple came out with a visionary hardware product in the MacBook Air line of laptops. Intel and Microsoft pushed their hardware vendors to produce similarly cool hardware with Ultrabooks, and how did that go? The only one that I can think of that comes close to the Air in hardware coolness is the Asus Zenbook.

    WP8 is in almost the same boat. The Nokia Lumias are absolutely great, but everything else is, at best, ho hum. Microsoft might as well just buy Nokia outright and either rebrand the phones as Surface Phones or the Surfaces themselves as Lumia Tablets.

    After using it for some time, I've come to the conclusion that Windows 8, split personality and all, is great and will evolve to be even better. But Microsoft is in a tight spot because of its reliance on lethargic and unimaginative hardware partners to get that news out there.
    Sir Name
    • Re: But Windows 8 based tablets are never going to catch on if this

      Given that even Microsoft's own products have failed to break this cycle of failure, perhaps the problem is not the OEMs after all, but Windows 8 itself?
      ldo17
  • It's one or the other with current W8 machines

    5.0

    I've found Win 8 to be sluggish on anything less that a Core i5. The last thing you want on a brand new machine is for it to be unresponsive already right out of the gate. Computers don't tend to get faster with age, if anything (especially with Windows) they bog down. I think processors are just not ready for the demands of Win 8. Haswell might possibly fix some of the battery life problems on a core i5 or above machine . . . but Atom, I think, is a lost cause until those chips get at least 2x as fast as they are now. And they skimp on RAM at 2GB and a 32GB SSD? My phone has that much. And how does that even work when just the Windows install takes up nearly that much drive space?

    So is it any wonder Win 8 has been a tough sell? People are all pointing to the new Start screen, no Start button, and no booting straight to the desktop. Hogwash. It's the hardware that is compromised. It's all too expensive and you're either saddled with power and poor battery life, or a good battery and a miserable Atom. For the record I actually like my Win 8 Sony Duo 11 Core i7, but it was expensive and the extra piggy back battery is a bit inelegant.
    ArtInvent
    • Atom CPUs can only support 2GB of ram

      Otherwise I am sure all the tablets would be 4GB.

      Still I think Dell is overpriced, but otherwise this could be a decent tablet.
      Emacho
    • @ArtInvent

      6.0

      I cannot agree with you on this one. I've installed Windows 8 on at least 13 computers and every one of them instantly felt snappier. My next door neighbour has a crappy Compaq dual-core Celeron 1.8GHz and he is thrilled at how much faster it starts, runs generally and shuts down. I clean installed his Windows 7 only 6 weeks before we upgraded to Win 8. I did a clean install, as I believe this is the only real way to have a well-running OS. I did a direct upgrade with the first computer I did and I wasn't happy with it, so I clean installed the rest and never looked back.

      I still shake my head at the nonsense of landing on the start screen (press the Desktop icon, one click, big deal!!!) and the no start button saga. People really are useless at learning anything. No-one reads user manuals or wants to learn anything new. etc. A friend of mine shot a whole wedding for her brother with her compact digital camera set to its lowest quality setting, LMAO. She was clueless how to use the camera and NEVER reads manuals. These are the kind of people complaining about Windows 8.
      MelbourneTweetr
  • Dell Latitude 10 review

    10.0

    Its a Microsoft Windows 8 light duty machine so its perfect for that purpose.
    Loverock-Davidson
  • Atom Is Unfit To Run Windows

    Atom chips are not for running a high-overhead OS like Windows. Much better to put on a more efficient Linux-based OS. Like, maybe, Android...
    ldo17
    • Atom is fine with Windows 8

      7.0

      Having used windows 8 on an Atom N570 netbook for at least 6 months on a daily basis for web and light duty PC, I find Atom CPU sufficiently capable of running windows 8.
      There isn't a linux distro that comes close to matching Windows 8 for completeness in a desktop OS. Most distros feels 80% finished. It's ok for servers where you have limited and well defined functions, but a long way to go for desktop. Having tried a few linux distros (and even OSX) on the same netbook, I find they are more sluggish than windows 8.
      warboat
      • Re: Atom is fine with Windows 8

        So where are the good Atom-based Windows 8 products?
        ldo17
  • Whoa...

    5.0

    The 64Gb Surface pro barely leaves 40Gb or so free for data after the OS is taken into account. I'd hate to think about how little the 32Gb version of this tablet leaves free.
    dsf3g
  • Surprisingly good

    8.0

    I've been testing one for a week now, it's very good. Runs Bluestacks (not the latest version) for Android compatibility. I installed Windows 8 Enterprise so joining a domain is not a problem, a much more useful device in a Windows environment then an iPad and the ability to run x86 applications makes it much better alternative to a Surface RT.
    Richard Penhale
    • Dell Latitude 10 Tablet issues...

      5.0

      Hi Richard Penhale, I saw your note where you've mentioned that you managed to join subject tablet to Domain after installing Windows 8 Enterprise? I am struggling to join one to our company domain but unfortunately option of switching from Wks to Domain is disabled! now as you have mentioned that you installed Win 8 enterprise license which i wonder how as i am in a situation where tablet is completely wiped and has no OS now and tablet is not booting via USB and or PXE LAN where we can reimage... Any help is highly appreciated.
      birenraj
  • Road Warrior or Corridor Warrior?

    8.0

    This came up a few years ago when I was working for Dell. For years, business portables were aimed at Road Warriors, that is, people who spent their lives traveling and needed to take a computer with them. But, about 6, 7 years ago, Dell found that the most common portable user was a Corridor Warrior. Someone who went to lots of meetings.

    The difference is that one really requires long battery life, the road warrior. The other requires more computing power...sort of..., the corridor warrior, because they are never that far from an outlet.

    The corridor warrior is more likely to use a docking station.

    Atom, and battery life seem to be more in line with the road warrior, while Core and more computing power seem to be more in line with the corridor warrior.
    AudeKhatru