Dell Latitude 10 Tablet Review

The Dell Latitude 10 is a Windows 8 tablet that's tailor-made for business users. It's not only durable, it offers a host of security and manageability features IT managers will appreciate. Snap in the 4-cell battery, and you get a device that lasts all day - and most of the night. Starting at $499

The Dell Latitude 10 is a Windows 8 tablet that's tailor-made for business users. It's not only durable, it offers a host of security and manageability features IT managers will appreciate. Snap in the 4-cell battery, and you get a device that lasts all day - and most of the night. Starting at $499 ($704 as configured), the Latitude 10 also works with an optional pen for taking notes on the go and using other pen-enabled apps, while the optional dock lets you connect a larger monitor.

The 60 Wh battery for Dell Latitude 10 ships with is presumably one of the largest ones ever used to power a tablet. According to Dell, the result is a battery life of up to 30 hours. The business tablet is not without compromises, however.
The release of Windows 8 has started to bridge the gap between tablets and notebooks. Although the ARM-series of processors has been getting more and more powerful - two and even four cores, 3D graphics - they never really had a platform to develop their full potential. Windows 8 is about the change that: the new OS, with its touchscreen-interface on top of the well-known desktop, features the diverse software offerings we've come to expect from Windows.
Most of us are quite familiar with Intel's Atom processors, as they were once ubiquitous in the now pretty much defunct netbook-category. Atom CPUs have a new lease on life: Intel's Atom Z2760 is used in many different Windows 8 tablets, and is starting to become a serious competition for CPUs based on the ARM architecture. The 32-bit dual-core CPU is of course not nearly as powerful as full-sized notebook processors, but with a TPD of 1.7 Watts it is frugal, which extends battery life. The Dell Latitude 10 ships with 2 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage - sufficient only for less demanding desktop and office-type tasks.
The first impression confirms it: the Dell Latitude 10 comes closer to emulating a notebook than any Android tablet could ever hope to. Even though some of the devices were designed as convertibles and featured keyboard-docking stations, they usually lacked a replaceable battery. Dell also offers a docking station, which adds additional ports and makes the tablet suitable as a desktop PC replacement.
Dell offers many different configurations: the user can decide between batteries with 30 Wh or 60 Wh capacity, eMMC storage of 32 GB and 64 GB, and choose a UMTS module, if required. The slot for the microSIM card is located behind the battery. The least expensive version of the tablet retails for 499 Euros (~$650); our top-of-the-line review unit costs 785 Euros (~$1000). Either way: for a tablet with an Atom processor and Windows 8, the Dell Latitude 10 is expensive. Notebooks offer a lot more performance for this kind of money. With features like a TPM chip, Dell targets business more so than home users, however.
Ports
If there's one thing the Latitude 10 has in spades, it's ports. A headphone jack, USB 2.0 and mini-HDMI ports line the right side. The left side includes a lock slot as well as the tablet's volume rocker. A full-size SD Card slot, power button and orientation lock sit on the top edge. Last but not least, the docking connector and a microUSB port occupy the bottom of the slate, both of which can be used for charging purposes, though the microUSB can only be used for charging at at a rate of 500mA.Pulling out the Latitude 10′s removable battery reveals the tablet's SIM card slot.
Display
The Latitude 10′s 10.1-inch 1366 x 768 IPS display offered sharp, colorful visuals that belies its underwhelming resolution. While watching a 1080p trailer for "Star Trek: Into Darkness," images of a young Captain Kirk were clear enough to see the wrinkles on his face as it twisted in surprise. A haunting scene of a burning cityscape and a crashing starship were equally crisp, even when viewed at a 40-degree angle.
At 473 lux, the Latitude 10′s display is plenty bright, easily outshining the category average of 365 lux. Neither the HP Envy x2, with its 306 lux, or the Iconia W510, and its 262 lux, were even close to the Latitude 10. The Surface Pro registered 394 lux.
Audio
The Latitude 10′s stereo speakers, located on its back panel, pumped out just enough sound to fill a small conference room. While listening to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop," the speakers produced a clean sound, but lacked bass. Despite the speakers being located on the backside of the tablet, placing it flat on a table improved sound quality.
Keyboard
The Latitude 10 features Microsoft's standard Windows 8 on-screen keyboard, complete with three different use modes. The standard mode offers a normal QWERTY keyboard that, thanks to its large keys, is great for tapping emails. A split keyboard mode cuts the keyboard into three sections, with the left and right halves of the layout being pushed to their respective sides of the screen and the middle being occupied by a number pad.
Pen Input
A third input mode on the Latitude 10 allows users to take advantage of the optional Wacom Active Stylus ($34.22), letting you write out sentences that the slate will then translate into text. The stylus mode was surprisingly accurate, easily translating our handwriting sentence after sentence.
Especially impressive was how well the Latitude 10 handled palm rejection. With our hands resting on the screen, we were able to accurately write sentences without the tablet's touch screen picking up any other input. In addition to the on-screen Windows 8 keyboard, the stylus also works with Microsoft's OneNote, available as a free download through the Windows Store.
Note that the Latitude 10 lacks a holster for the stylus, so you'll need to toss it in your bag - and hope you don't lose it.
Docking Station
Dell's goal for the Latitude 10 is to make it a complete business solution and not just another tablet. To that end, the company offers its optional desktop-style Productivity Dock ($100). The dock's base is covered in a black soft-touch material similar to the Latitude 10′s back panel. A metal cradle secures the Latitude 10 in place.
To pair the dock and Latitude, you simply plug the male end of the connector into the port in the bottom of the tablet. Unfortunately, when we connected the two, the Latitude 10 wobbled side to side. Dell says this give was meant to make docking easier.
The Productivity Dock includes four USB 2.0 ports, one in the front next to the dock's headphone jack, and three in the back. Other ports on the back panel include a power connector, Ethernet jack and full size HDMI port. At 1.8 pounds and measuring 8.1 x 5.1 x 4.3 inches, the Productivity Dock can easily fit on a crowded desk.
As part of our test unit's Mobility Bundle, Dell included a full-size wireless keyboard and mouse. Both devices pair to the Latitude via a USB dongle. The wireless mouse has a unique design that features a detachable top for replacing the device's batteries held together with two small magnets. This makes changing the batteries easy, but we would prefer it if Dell made the magnets stronger. As it is now, the top can be removed far too easily.
Security
The Dell Latitude support Intel's Platform Trust technology out of the box, as well as optional TPM security. There's also an optional fingerprint/Smart Card Reader combo. Dell says that data encryption is also available for this tablet.
Heat
After streaming a 15-minute Hulu video, the Latitude 10′s back panel registered an average temperature of 82 degrees, well below the 95-degree threshold we consider uncomfortable. The Acer Iconia W510, on the other hand, hit a very warm 103 degrees in a couple of spots.
Performance
Like both the HP Envy x2 and the Acer Iconia W510, Dell outfitted the Latitude 10 with a 1.8-GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor, 2GB of RAM and 64GB of flash memory. Those specs translate into a tablet that is capable of tackling everyday tasks such as Web browsing, email, Office and some light gaming, but nothing more intensive than that. Web pages loaded quickly and games like "Judge Dredd vs. Zombies" ran smoothly.
On the PCMark 7 benchmark, which tests a system's overall performance, the Dell Latitude 10 scored 1,440. Compared with more powerful tablets like Microsoft's Intel Core i5-equipped Surface Pro, which scored 4,721, the Latitude's performance seems dismal. But when put up against the similarly equipped HP Envy X2 and the Acer Iconia W510, which scored 1,428 and 1,305, respectively, the Latitude's performance looks much better.
Dell's decision to use 64GB of eMMC flash memory as the Latitude 10′s main storage rather than a solid-state drive might have ensured a lower price tag, but it impacts the tablet's speed. For example, it took the Latitude 10 3 minutes and 52 seconds to complete the LAPTOP File Transfer test, which includes copying 4.97GB of media files. That's a rate of roughly 22 MBps.
By comparison, the average tablet completed the test at a rate of 58.3 MBps. That said, the HP Envy X2 and Acer Iconia W510 finished the test at a rate of 22 MBps and 10.8 MBps, respectively. The Surface Pro, with its 128GB SSD, meanwhile, transferred the files at a rate of 124 MBps.
If the Latitude 10′s flash memory helped the system's performance anywhere it was with its boot time, which took just 16 seconds. That's the same amount of time it took to boot the Envy X2 and 4 seconds faster than the Iconia W510.
Business users who spend a lot of time poring over larger Excel spreadsheets may want to think twice before plunking down the cash for the Latitude 10. It took the tablet 29 minutes and 48 seconds to complete the LAPTOP OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, which matches 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. That's well off of the 13:30 category average and only slightly better than the HP Envy X2′s 29:54 and Acer Iconia W510′s 29:56.
If you're looking to play even moderately taxing PC games like "World of Warcraft" on the Latitude 10, look elsewhere. The tablet's Intel Graphics Media Accelerator couldn't even run the 3DMark11 graphics benchmark, let alone load "Warcraft."
Battery Life
On the LAPTOP Magazine Battery Test, which includes continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi with the display set to 40 percent brightness, the Latitude 10 lasted 7 hours and 16 minutes, just barely beating out the tablet category average of 7:08 and much better than the HP Envy X2′s 6:52 time. Still, the Latitude 10 couldn't match the Acer Iconia W510′s 8:49.
With the optional 4-cell dell latitude 10 battery, the Latitude 10′s battery life jumped to an incredible 17 hours and 40 minutes. That's better than the 15:09 the Acer W510 managed with its optional keyboard dock. The HP Envy X2, meanwhile, lasted 11:57 with its dock.
Software
Dell has kept the Latitude 10 almost completely free of bloatware. Beyond the standard Windows 8 apps such as Bing, Bing News and Bing Weather, the only other programs included with the Latitude 10 are a trial of Microsoft Office, Skype and the Getting Started with Windows 8 tutorial. First-time Windows 8 users should find the tutorial to be rather helpful, as it explains everything from how to use Windows 8 with a keyboard and mouse or touch screen to using the Charms menu and the Windows Store.
Configurations
Dell offers five versions of the Latitude 10, including a Latitude 10 Essentials with a 32GB SSD for $499 and a Latitude 10 Essentials with a 64GB SSD for $579, neither or which have a swappable battery pack. Add the active stylus and removable battery and the price for a 64GB version will jump to $649. Purchase the Latitude 10 Productivity Bundle, which includes the aforementioned Productivity dock, and you'll end up paying $775. Move up to the Latitude 10 Mobility Bundle, which includes each of the previously mentioned options as well as 3G connectivity and the price balloons to $849. For the purposes of this review, Dell sent us the Mobility Bundle with an optional 4-cell battery and wireless keyboard and mouse. All total, that setup costs $1,146.
Verdict
With its amazing battery life, durable soft-touch design, bright display and wide array of optional add-ons, the Windows 8-powered Dell Latitude 10 is a versatile business tablet. Just don't expect a good camera or Ultrabook-like performance. This is more of a PC companion than a full-fledged laptop replacement, though you can certainly get real work done on the go (with the optional pen) and on the big screen (with the dock).
Verdict
The Latitude 10 supplies sturdiness and security instead of good looks and gimmicks. Dell designs this tablet for business use - and does it right. There are definitely better looking and more powerful tablets out there - but that is important for the private and not the business user. As long as looks are not of the utmost importance, the chassis is a good one. It is unobtrusive and built very well. Because of its excellent display and the high maximum brightness of over 450 cd/m², the tablet can also be used outdoors - even though the screen is reflective. The IPS panel also has exceptional viewing angle stability. The overall quality of the display compares well even with higher-priced devices.
The tablet is not really well suited for multimedia tasks - not surprising, since business users usually do not need the best sound and high quality cameras. As such, the Latitude 10 is no substitute for a digital camera - the quality of the pictures is not good enough. For listening to music or watching movies, we recommend using headphones - the speakers cannot convince.
The plethora of accessories allows for increased flexibility. The docking station adds several USB ports and an additional full-sized HDMI port. The active Wacom stylus turns the tablet into a notepad. While the pressure-sensing technology works well for drawing, the palm check feature is not quite as robust.
Tablets usually don't have replaceable batteries, so we appreciate the fact that there are two to choose from: either a small and light one with 30 Wh or the heavier model with 60 Wh. Only some convertibles come close in capacity - if you also count the battery in the dock. The large battery allows for a runtime of up to 30 hours when the tablet is used as an eReader; the 15 hours we recorded during our WLAN test are also very decent, since the Latitude 10 lasts almost for two workdays without needing a charge. The only disadvantage: the larger battery pushes the weight of the unit beyond 800 grams (1.75 pounds) - something to consider.
Although the overall performance is pretty average, it is still good enough for simple office tasks. Those who do not need a top performing tablet but rather want a sturdy and secure device should definitely consider the Dell Latitude 10.

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