Dell's Latitude XT3 updates the laptop-tablet combo, $1957 and up

Dell is bringing tablet PCs back with the Latitude XT3 -- the 13.3" laptop with an Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' Core i-CPU and a touchscreen for enterprise users.

Before the iPad, there were Windows-based tablet PCs that are essentially laptops with displays on twist-able hinges that recognize touch controls by styli. They used to be coveted Back-to-School computers for students in math and engineering or any other discipline with lots of diagrams and formulas to jot down, but they have basically disappeared from retail store shelves with the proliferation of iOS and Android tablets. Dell apparently still sees an enterprise market for tablet PCs, as the company just refreshed its Latitude XT3 with a larger 13.3" touchscreen display, a bi-directional hinge, and Intel's 'Sandy Bridge' Core i-processors.

Rather than create a tablet with a laptop dock that is sold separately like the Asus Transformer, Dell's XT3 is a full-sized laptop with out-of-box tablet functionality. But the convenience of having two machines in one is quite costly at $1957 for the base model, which sports an Intel Core i3 (2310M at 2.1 GHz) processor. A 16 GB, Wi-Fi only Transformer and dock is only $550, while a 13.3" Dell Vostro 3350 with a similar CPU starts at just $519. So why would you pay significantly more for a laptop-tablet in a beefier form factor, than a tablet that can transform into a laptop with accessories?

One look at the specs of the XT3 and it's clear the machine is first and foremost a laptop, which makes it unfair to compare to a tablet, performance-wise: (this is what $1957 will get you)

  • CPU: Intel Core i3 (2310M)
  • OS: Windows 7 Professional, 64-bit
  • Display: 13.3" HD (1366x768) with Camera and Microphone; touchscreen recognizes 4-finger controls, and stylus/trackstick
  • RAM: 2.0GB, DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM, 2 DIMMS
  • Keyboard: Internal English Dual Pointing Keyboard with touchpad
  • Enterprise features: No Out-of-Band Systems Management; Remote Data Delete and Free Fall Sensor
  • Primary Hard Drive: 250GB 5400rpm Hard Drive (solid state drive also available, as is a second HDD)
  • Optical Drive: External 8X DVD with Cyberlink Power DVD, no media
  • Battery: 6 cell
  • Connectivity: Intel Centrino® Advanced-N 6205 802.11a/b/g/n Half Mini Card
  • Ports: Network connector (RJ-45); USB 2.0 (3) - 1 USB/eSATA combo, Stereo headphone/Microphone combo jack, IEEE 1394, Memory card reader, 34 mm ExpressCard, Docking Connector, VGA, HDMI, 1 Full and 2 Half Mini Card Slots, SmartCard Reader and optional Fingerprint Reader
  • Dimensions & Weight: Width: 12.7" / 323.0mm Height: 1.2" / 30.9mm Depth: 8.7" / 221.7mm Target Starting weight: 4.46lbs / 2.02kg (with 6-cell battery)

Dell is betting that its enterprise security features and greater computing power in the XT3 will appeal to healthcare professionals, animators and professionals who work outdoors (for example, architects checking on a construction site). For business users who require a lot of precision and computing power in their work, a device that can render large graphic files like an X-ray or AutoCAD could make the XT3 worth the money. For the average consumer watching YouTube clips on a mobile device, a Transformer would be just fine. For those professionals who would benefit from this tablet pc design though, does this setup work for you?

[Source: Dell, Wikipedia]