A tablet Jim, but not as we know it

With Apple's iPad and Android imitators flying of the shelves it's easy to forget that there are other formats, including notebooks that convert into tablets, like Dell's new Latitude XT3.Weighing in at just over 2kg, with the appearance and dimensions of a portly notebook, the Latitude XT3 won't win many iPad converts, but then it's not aimed at that, mainly consumer, market.

With Apple's iPad and Android imitators flying of the shelves it's easy to forget that there are other formats, including notebooks that convert into tablets, like Dell's new Latitude XT3.

Weighing in at just over 2kg, with the appearance and dimensions of a portly notebook, the Latitude XT3 won't win many iPad converts, but then it's not aimed at that, mainly consumer, market. Rather it's very much a business notebook designed to give mobile professionals the kind of processing power more usually found on a desktop PC.

You only have to glance at the specification to see that it's not an iPad alternative, Dell using the latest Intel Sandy Bridge technology to power the XT3 with a choice of Core i3, i5 or i7 dual-core processors. You can also specify up to 8GB of RAM and either a 250GB or 320GB hard disk. Or, if you can afford it, a 256GB SSD.

The edges of the notebook simply bristle with interfaces including two USB ports, a combo USB/eSATA connector, plus mini-Firewire and Gigabit Ethernet ports, with 802.11n Wi-Fi also built in as standard. VGA and HDMI connectors allow for the attachment of an external monitor plus there's a docking port that can be used with standard Latitude docking stations.

The display is a 13.3in. LED-backlit touchscreen that responds to a (battery powered) stylus as well as finger action. Not big by notebook standards, this can be used with the full-size keyboard and touchpad or converted to a tablet by simply swivelling the display either left or right and folding it down.

The standard 6-cell Li-ion battery won't power the XT3 for anywhere near the nine hours or more that's possible with the iPad, but a larger battery is available with a fast charge facility to help keep it topped up.

An integrated HD webcam is another option and chances are you'll end up paying a lot more than the base price of £695 (ex. VAT) once you've added this and other extras. For which you could buy a couple of iPads or more — but then, it's in a completely different league, with the tablet interface just one of many features on this well-specified business notebook.

Alan Stevens

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