The tablet revolution has mostly been about the home rather than business user. But business types also love the tablet format, with many an iPad becoming a trusty corporate travel companion. This won't give you access to all of your company's applications and systems, though, especially if these are Windows-based. So a Windows tablet might be a more fitting alternative. Enter the Latitude 10 tablet. Could this be the happy halfway house between the comfort of tablet content consumption and Windows access to business applications and systems?
There are three main specifications of the Latitude 10in tablet - essentials, Standard and NetReady Mobile Broadband - although all are built around the Intel Atom Z2760 processor. This is a dual-core 1.8GHz Atom with Hyper-Threading, released at the end of 2012 and aimed particularly at Windows 8 tablets like the Latitude. It has integrated PowerVR SGX 545 graphics, presented as Intel UMA, which supports DirectX 10.1, although it won't exactly provide blistering performance. All three versions of the Latitude are supplied with 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM, which is now pretty much standard for Atom-based systems. This is still enough for the Windows 8 operating system, which is supplied in its 32-bit form since Atoms don't support 64-bit.
The differences between the three models are relatively minor. The essentials version has a 32GB solid-state disk and costs £450, with a 64GB unit adding £47 to the price. The Standard version costs £544 and comes with a 64GB solid-state disk, with a selection of 128GB options also available ranging in price from £66 to £84. All SSDs have hardware security via TPM or other means. The NetReady Mobile Broadband version we tested lifts the price further to £626, with the same basic and optional solid-state disk choices as the Standard version, but adds HSPA+ mobile broadband and an O2 SIM. So prices compare favourably with iPads offering similar features.
However, the iPad also offers its 9.6in Retina display, whereas the Latitude's 10.1in screen, although slightly larger, has a more netbook-like resolution of 1,366 x 768. This will be perfectly adequate for tablet usage, and you wouldn't really want a higher resolution when running Windows applications anyway. We found it hard enough to operate regular Windows software with our fingers, although of course when used as a tablet the Latitude's Windows 8 interface is very comfortable, with some exceptions. Internet Explorer, for example, is not as finger-friendly as some browsers designed for touch screens from the outset. Fortunately, Dell also includes a stylus in the box, making regular Windows more touch compatible. It's worth noting that upgrading from standard Windows 8 to the Pro version adds another £54 to the price - this is not included as standard.
The Latitude isn't bristling with ports and features, but all the most important ones are included. There are cameras on the front and rear, rated at 2-megapixels and 8-megapixels respectively, with the latter also sporting an LED flash. There's an SD card slot on the top, alongside the power button and a button to toggle auto-rotate lock. The right side houses a minijack combining headphone and microphone, a USB 2.0 port and mini HDMI. The left sports just a volume rocker and Kensington lock slot, whilst the bottom only offers a proprietary dock and power connection, plus a micro-USB port for charging only. The latter is a nice touch, allowing you to recharge the Latitude with a standard USB charger, reducing the chance you end up powerless when out and about.
Our review unit also came with the £129 Productivity Dock. This is a solidly constructed stand that provides a host of additional connectivity. There's a USB 2.0 port on the front alongside a combined microphone and headphone minijack, plus three further USB 2.0 ports, Ethernet, and a full-sized HDMI connection on the rear, alongside the power input. So you could leave this hooked up to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, and just slip the Latitude in when you need a full desktop work experience. The tablet doesn't lock into place, it merely rests, which makes attachment and detachment easy, but also somewhat less secure.
The Latitude 10in tablet feels sprightly enough when you are flicking around the interface and using general applications, such as browsing the Web. However, being based on an Intel Atom, even if it is one of the latest models, this is no speed demon. The score of 0.51 in Maxon Cinebench R11.5's rendering test is slightly ahead of Atom-based netbooks we have tested, but not by much, and rather pitiful compared to any Core-based portable. The Intel UMA graphics don't support OpenGL fully, so we have no score for this portion of Cinebench, and DirectX 11 isn't accelerated in hardware either, so Futuremark's 3DMark11 won't run either. But the Latitude achieved 457 in 3DMark06, which is again slightly ahead of other netbooks, but way behind what Intel HD 4000 or even 3000 integrated graphics can muster. So this won't be a tablet able to play games that rely on 3D to any extent.
As standard, the 10in tablet comes with a slim 30Wh battery, which managed 350 minutes in our full-on battery test, which runs the graphics and processor at 100 per cent. This is an excellent result, but there is also a 60Wh battery available, which can be specified for an extra £28. This protrudes out the back when installed, so won't be compatible with some covers such as the Dell Soft-Touch Case we were sent with the review unit. However, it managed 762 minutes in the same battery test - a phenomenal result, way ahead of anything else we have reviewed. With this installed, the Latitude will provide many hours of entertainment and work for an extended journey, making it an ideal travel companion. You can also swap batteries yourself, so carrying more than one with you is a possibility too.
Although the Latitude 10 looks like the XPS 10 from the front, the features around the edges are rather different, it has a more sober rubberised finish, and of course the Intel Atom processor rather than Qualcomm Snapdragon, with regular Windows rather than RT. If you want to add a mobile keyboard, only the Kensington KeyFolio Expert is available. We would have liked to see the Asus Transformer-style keyboard of the XPS, but surprisingly its absence allows the Latitude 10 to come in at a fairly reasonable price. You can get cheaper Windows RT tablets, but if you need a full Windows environment, the Dell Latitude 10 tablet makes a lot of sense, particularly if you throw in the Productivity Dock, plus screen, keyboard and mouse for desktop work and the double-size battery for unbeatable time on the move.
Manufacturer and product
Dell Latitude 10
1.8GHz Intel Atom Z2760
2GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM
64GB Mobility solid state disk
10.1in LED backlit TFT with 1,366 x 768 pixels
Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
USB 2.0, Mini HDMI, combo headphone and microphone, SD card reader
Width x Depth x Height
274.7 x 9.2 x 177.3mm
1 year collect and return