Dell offers versatile Latitude tablet in a less expensive package to appeal to educators and budget-minded businesses.
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Dell this week introduced a reconfigured version of its Latitude 10 tablet for businesses and schools, based on the notion that Windows 8 can unify touch-based and keyboard-based interaction without sacrificing the management needs of IT administrators.
The Latitude 10 essentials configuration ($499 for 32 GB, $579 for 64 GB) is a slightly more affordable version of the Latitude 10 standard configuration ($579+, 64 GB). As its name suggests, it features a 10.1 inch display. The various Latitude models each include a 1.8-GHz Intel Atom Z2760 processor.
"This is really about helping teachers and students and administrators address the issues around total management in a tech-driven environment," Jon Phillips, managing director of global education for Dell, said in an interview.
Phillips said that while students and teachers want the benefits of multitouch device interaction, they also want to produce content, something still best done with traditional productivity tools like Microsoft Office.
"Tablets are solid consumption tools, but one of the unique things that the Windows 8 tablet environment does is allow you to do more than consume," said Phillips.
Whereas Apple's iPad and Microsoft's Surface RT both run tablet-specific operating systems, Dell's Latitude 10 relies Windows 8 Pro, giving users access to the same applications as a desktop user.
Dell sees the Latitude as a hybrid device, one that's both a tablet and a laptop -- if you revise the definition of "laptop" so that an attached keyboard isn't necessary.
Phillips describes the Latitude 10 as the "best of both worlds," in that it allows students and teachers to move between multitouch and docked desktop modes, while keeping everything under familiar Windows management mechanisms.
David Fritz, end user computing strategist at Dell, said the company has some education customers testing Latitude 10 tablets but would not provide further information about the trials because they're just getting underway. Nonetheless, he insisted that there has been a lot of interest in the productivity dock, which can be used to turn the tablet into a conventional desktop screen in conjunction with connected peripherals.
While the Latitude 10 with Windows 8 can't boast the number of apps (35,000+) that competing tablets like Apple's iPad can (700,000+), Phillips argues app store inventory doesn't matter. "It's not about having 100,000 or more applications," he said. "It's what are the 10 or 15 quality applications that can really ignite education and create personalized experiences between students and teachers."
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