Watch out iPad – Dell's multitouch convertible is both better looking and more powerful than you are. But is it blighted by full Windows 7?
Dell's Latitude line of business-grade laptops may be, officially, engineered for ‘durability, security, battery life and remote administration’, but every so often it throws up something that is simply wasted on PowerPoint presentations. Something like the ultra-slim, supersexy and Apple iPad-rivalling multitouch XT2.
Like the forthcoming Packard Bell Butterfly, Acer 1420P and Fujitsu T4310, the XT2 mounts a swivelling multitouch screen on top of a full-sized keyboard to create the classic ‘convertible’ tablet look but with added two-finger control.
It draws upon Windows 7's native support for a multitouch interface to add gestures into everyday programs like Firefox and Word, but we're still waiting for a killer Windows multitouch app to appear.
The touchscreen itself is almost as responsive and fast as you'll find on a phone, making it a practical alternative to the traditional touchpad and button click.
Thing of beauty
The XT2 is beautifully light, just over 25mm thick and comes clad in a tasteful brushed finish. It is, not to put too fine a point on it, gorgeous, and not entirely unlike its high-class sister, the Adamo.
Although the XT2 clearly doesn't belong in a boardroom, there are a few traces of its business background. Most obvious is the Lenovo-like nipple in the centre of the keyboard for yet another pointer control option, and a choice of two left and right mouse buttons.
There's also a fingerprint reader mounted along the side of the screen and military grade encryption built-in plus. Strangely, though, there’s no webcam.
Like many ultralight machines, you also sacrifice a DVD drive in order to keep the depth down. Even without that, though, if this was a straight notebook the design alone would put it high on our list of favourites. With the added slate mode and one of the best multitouch screens around it's almost irresistible.
Pricey and short lived
Sadly, the XT2 down is let down by poor battery life. It pulls out every power-saving trick in the book, from a small but efficient solid state hard drive to one of Intel's low-power CPUs, but still can't make it beyond two hours in our standard usage tests.
That's with the four-cell battery supplied in our review machine – Dell claims 11 hours from its extended 'slice' pack, which is hot-swappable, but that adds another £200 to the cost.
And even if the battery were up to scratch, it's probably too pricey for most. Let's face it, you could buy the Asus UL30A ultrathin laptop and an iPad for the same price.
Still, if you want the best of both worlds in one machine and don't mind swapping batteries occasionally, it's one of the most convincing cases for multitouch laptop screens we've seen so far.
Dell Latitude XT2 review
A gorgeous design and practical multitouch screen, let down by a curiously low battery life