The Dell Latitude XT2 is a tablet PC that is great in every way... except perhaps its price tag.

Go on, grab the Dell Latitude XT2 - it just feels good. The rugged metal-alloy casing gives it a solid, substantial frame.

Pick it up, and the 13.3in Dell Latitude XT2 is deceptively light (1.64kg). Put all of that together, and you seem to have a premium choice for mobility-minded businessfolk in need of a tablet PC. It has style in spades and a host of great features. But is this £1,672 inc VAT ultraportable package good for the long haul?

Well, we can tell you that the Dell Latitude XT2 didn't exactly produce scorching results in our WorldBench 6 tests. Running this show, along with 3GB of RAM, is Intel's 1.4GHz Core 2 Duo U9400 CPU, the same processor you'll find in the Acer Aspire Timeline 3810T.

Unsurprisingly, the Dell Latitude XT2 scored in the same ballpark as the Acer, notching a mark of 60 in WorldBench 6. That shouldn't come as anything shocking or new: tablets rarely have ample horsepower.

A tablet maker that adds too many components - a discrete GPU, say - runs the risk of creating a machine that's too bulky for users to grab and hold. The biggest shock to us is that the Dell Latitude XT2 didn't end up in the slow lane.

In fact, the Dell Latitude XT2 seems downright spritely and manageable compared with the likes of the tiny, almost netbook-like Fujitsu Lifebook U820. Especially when you start taking advantage of Dell's sweet multitouch screen, the XT2 pulls ahead of many tablets we've seen.

No doubt, the Apple iPhone 3GS-like ability to pinch your fingers to zoom in and out of websites and photos is incredibly handy on the crisp, colourful 1280-by-800-pixel screen (which, by the way, looks good both indoors and out). The Dell Latitude XT2's integrated GPU surprises with fairly fluid motion; resizing windows wasn't a drag, and neither was rotating images or scrolling down pages.

And if you have a need to push a physical button, a "CTRL" button replaces the trusty three-finger salute, calling up the option to log out or start the Task Manager. Another button quickly shifts the screen orientation, and a convenient settings button brings up the Dell ControlPoint app for tweaking just about anything on the machine. And if you're not careful, you might miss the scroll rocker button hiding by the Dell Latitude XT2's hinge.

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Of course, since the Dell Latitude XT2 is a convertible, you can rotate the screen and use the machine as a more conventional laptop. The hinge mechanism is good, but like those on most tablets, it doesn't lock into an upright position. (On flights, the screen will flop around, guaranteed.)

Don't like the touchscreen? The Dell Latitude XT2 also has a touchpad and an eraserhead nestled between the keys. Speaking of the keys, the more we play with this machine, the more we find ourselves appreciating the solid keyboard. It may not be as luxurious as, say, the offerings of Lenovo's ThinkPad line, but it is certainly firm enough, with springy feedback.

Our review unit came with an amazingly robust set of features - but considering the price tag, we'd expect no less. Check out this laundry list: you get a pass-through-power USB port (two USB ports total), eSATA, a PC Card slot, an SD Card slot, FireWire, a fingerprint reader, Bluetooth, and 802.11n Wi-Fi.

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The Dell Latitude XT2 lacks an optical drive, as well as DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort outputs. But for a few quid more, you can buy the MediaBase docking station to alleviate some of those woes; the accessory houses an 8X DVD-RW drive and sports more USB and FireWire ports, plus a DVI-out. The drawback is that the add-on gives the Dell Latitude XT2 the girth of a beefy all-purpose laptop.

Otherwise, the only real downer with the Dell Latitude XT2 is its 3-hour, 21-minute battery life. Among tablets that result isn't horrible, but compared with many ultraportables to come through our labs, that's a pretty sorry endurance run.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

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Dell Latitude XT2: Specs

  • Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor SU9400 (1.4GHz)
  • Genuine Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Intel Small Form Factor (ULV) Montevina Chipset
  • 12.1in Premium WXGA (1280x800) LED Display (Wide View) Multi-touch – Finger / Capacity touchscreen
  • 3GB (1x1GB on board, 1x2GB DIMM) DDR3 1066MHz
  • 80GB 5400RPM SATA HDD/64GB Ultra Performance SSD
  • Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • HSUPA/HSDPA Mobile Broadband Minicard
  • Dell 365 Bluetooth Module
  • Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
  • 1394, USB 2.0 (x2, one powered), USB 2.0/eSATA, VGA, RJ-45, Audio
  • 1.64kg
  • 6-cell 42W/Hr Li-Ion primary
  • 297x220.6x27.4mm
  • Intel Core 2 Duo ULV processor SU9400 (1.4GHz)
  • Genuine Windows Vista Ultimate
  • Intel Small Form Factor (ULV) Montevina Chipset
  • 12.1in Premium WXGA (1280x800) LED Display (Wide View) Multi-touch – Finger / Capacity touchscreen
  • 3GB (1x1GB on board, 1x2GB DIMM) DDR3 1066MHz
  • 80GB 5400RPM SATA HDD/64GB Ultra Performance SSD
  • Intel Integrated Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
  • 802.11a/b/g/n
  • HSUPA/HSDPA Mobile Broadband Minicard
  • Dell 365 Bluetooth Module
  • Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000)
  • 1394, USB 2.0 (x2, one powered), USB 2.0/eSATA, VGA, RJ-45, Audio
  • 1.64kg
  • 6-cell 42W/Hr Li-Ion primary
  • 297x220.6x27.4mm

OUR VERDICT

Overall, the superslick Dell Latitude XT2 will make you the envy of the boardroom. It offers most of the bells and whistles you might need, and it runs briskly enough for you to get your work in order. This machine offers more than enough to like - except for maybe the price tag.

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