April 19, 2012
- Strong, sturdy design
- Comfortable keyboard
- Responsive, accurate touchscreen
- Extremely good battery life
- Thicker & heavier than most other laptops
- No USB 3.0
- Mediocre performance for the high price
Convertible PCs used to be fairly popular when Windows XP Tablet Edition was released but they've since mostly faded away. The Dell Latitude XT3 hopes to revive this category with its own convertible PC. It has great battery life, an Intel Core i5 CPU and a 128GB solid-state hard drive.
While the Dell XT3 is aimed at business and enterprise users, it can certainly be used by anyone else. One particular group that comes to mind are high school and college students. A convertible tablet gives you the ability to type papers with a keyboard but also take notes by hand, which is especially helpful for subjects like chemistry.
The laptop's lid has a brushed metal finish and the rest of the body is a magnesium-alloy frame. The whole thing measures 12.7 x 10.3 x 1.3-inches (wdh) and weighs 5.2-pounds. It weighs quite a bit compared to other 13-inch laptops, which is typical of these convertible PCs. It is, however, built very sturdy and can definitely handle a day's worth of bumps.
The keyboard is full-sized and the keys are laid out and sized appropriately. The keys are Chiclet-style and provide a comfortable typing experience. There is a touchpad that's fairly typical and straightforward.
Because this is a convertible PC, the display is a very important aspect of this computer. It is 13.3-inches and has a resolution of 1366 x 768-pixels. The capacitive touchscreen supports multiple touch points and works quite well in our testing. The screen responded to our fingers for typing using the on-screen keyboard and multitouch gestures, like pinching and scrolling. The included stylus works well and is comfortable to use. To use the display flat like a tablet, just twist the display 180 degrees and it folds down flat over the keyboard.
The port selection includes two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, FireWire, Ethernet ExpressCard and a memory card slot. Noticeably missing is USB 3.0, which is disappointing. There is a DVD+/-RW combo optical drive in addition to 802.11b/g/n and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.
The Dell Latitude XT3's internal specifications include an Intel Core i5-2520M (2.5GHz) CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB solid-state hard drive and Intel integrated HD 3000 graphics. While performance with this computer isn't fantastic, it isn't horrible either. Users should expect to get average performance from this laptop. However, because of the high price, we expected to get better performance.
Battery life with the nine-cell internal battery provides just over 8-hours of battery life, which is several hours longer than other laptops of the same size. If you choose to use the slice battery, battery life is extended to an amazing 18 hours, but you have to lug around an additional 3-pounds.