Friday, August 1, 2008

Dell Latitude XT Tablet PC first impressions not good

My niece is soon to start college with a brand new Dell Tablet PC…maybe. Being the lucky uncle with a little extra time on my hands I eagerly volunteered to get the Tablet all in order for her, so I was all excited this afternoon when it arrived via DHL one week early from the initial ship date.

I’ll post some box opening pictures in a bit, but for now let me write down a couple first impressions. The shipping box is rather large all things considered, which I guess is a good thing considering how much protection the extra packing gives you. The unfortunate part is that there’s a lot of empty space in the box, so guess what? One of the internal boxes opened up and things dumped out. No biggy. But it made me wonder if everything was OK. Fortunately, it was just the DVDs and the like floating around.

Another small slip occurred on our end: I guess an error was made in the order, since XP came installed. Again, no biggy. I have a retail copy of Vista Ultimate I haven’t used yet, which will work just fine. Supposedly there’s a Vista Business license included in the package, but for the life of me I don’t see where it’s at. Ultimate is better anyway.

OK, here’s the one thing I wanted to try out for myself on the Dell Tablet PC: The combined touch and pen support provided by the built in Ntrig Digitizer. Unfortunately, things haven’t been going well in the Tablet department when it comes to this Dell.

First, the touch feature seems to have a strip where touch all but fails–especially if the touch point moves too quickly. Other places on the screen work just fine. Likewise, the pen seems to false trigger when not even touching the screen and I’ve also run into situations where the pen wouldn’t detect at all. Further, the screen has a film on it that causes a squeeking sound at times as the pen slides across it. I’m sure there’s a way around this, but I haven’t even looked. I’m spending too much time on that gnawing sinking feeling in my stomach.

Yeah, so far I’d say at least this Dell Tablet PC is a dud. It might just be this particular machine, but from what I’ve read in the past about other issues people have had, I don’t think so. I simply think Dell is shipping a poorly tested product. Now to be fair, these are only first impressons. But in the PC market first impressions are important. I’d give Dell a C- up to this point. We’ll see if my impressions and experiences change as I work through any driver updates and the like. Maybe that’ll fix some things.