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With Windows 8 just around the corner is no wonder that hints about upcoming tablets are staring to appear online. The latest leaks/rumors are from Dell, and there are no less that two products that might get to market in Q4 this year: a 10 inch Dell Latitude 10 slate and a 12 inch XPS 12 convertible tablet with a screen swivel mechanism that resembles the Dell Inspiron Duo from late 2010.
One thing before we take a look at these two tablets: you have to take all this info with a little bit of grain and salt, as there’s no official confirmation yet and the two leaks seem to originate from different sources within Dell (look at the font face for example in the pictures attached to this post), so someone might just have played a prank on us.
This is a normal slate tablet based on the latest Intel Clover Trail Atom platform, a dual core low power system with less than stellar performance (when coupled with Windows 7 that is). Personally I don’t like Atoms at all, and that’s because the trade off in performance for low power consumption doesn’t seem to benefit either (takes longer to perform tasks, so you’re wasting battery life on nothing and you get annoyed).
But that doesn’t mean we have to dismiss the Latitude 10 just yet. The design is plain simple, so don’t expect something to woo you when you take the product out of its box. Now back to hardware, I have to say this is a pretty svelte tablet (10.8 x 7.0 x 0.4 inch dimensions and 1.57lb weight) considering it’s carrying an x86 CPU and not an ARM model. I just hope it doesn’t rely on vents and fans of any kind of cooling as they have no place in a modern slate tablet.
Other niceties include 2GB RAM, an optional 128 GB SSD drive, 8MP back shooter and 2MP front facing webcam, two battery options (2/4cell of 30 0r 60 Whr for 6-8 and 10-12 hours battery life). Oh, and almost forgot to tell you about the 10.1 inch screen with HD ready resolution (1366 x 768 px). So this is not quite the ice breaker tablet from Dell, but you do get the options to beef it up with some security features that might make it appeal to business customers: TPM, Lock slot, fingerprint & smartcard reader, BitLocker, Dell Data Protection and Essentials. No word on price and availability since it’s a leaked product…
The second tablet, a more tablet PC like convertible, is the premium Dell XPS 12, a 12.5 inch form factor product with a swivel mechanism that utilises a frame around the display (unknown resolution) instead of a large hinge. I like the hardware design since it was used once before by Dell with the Inspiron Duo, but now we might get some powerful hardware inside this thing, the kind that needs active cooling. The entire XPS 12 will only be 8 to 20 mm thick and weigh 1.4 kg, which is ultrabook territory.
So it’s clear this won’t be your leisure tablet, but a portable workhorse with the ability to transform into a laptop with a full size keyboard at any time. Since the XPS brand is a premium series from Dell this one will come with a machined aluminium and carbon fiber chassis, edge to edge Gorilla Glass and black/silver color finish. Among the technologies incorporated into this thing I have to mention Instant Access, Always Connected Updated and Location Aware, Intel Smart Connect and Intel Rapid Start (use of a small size SSD in conjuncture with a classic mechanical SSD for fast boot).
Personally I would see myself using a product like the Dell XPS 12 if weight, battery life, performance and pricing fall into second generation ultrabook territory, but only if Windows 8 is as good as Microsoft promises. I’m tired to carrying all my devices that complement themselves (without too much functionality overlap) and all of their chargers.