From the first time I heard that Windows 8 would be a dual-use PC/tablet operating system I had a vision of how I would want to use it. My vision has come to pass in the form of the Dell Latitude 10 tablet and its "productivity" docking station.
Tablets are cool and notebooks are practical, but for the kind of work I do, which involves a lot of writing, there's nothing more productive than a full-blown keyboard and mouse when they're available. The problem is that if you're working on your notebook or tablet, switching over to another computer means a certain amount of shutting down and starting up and closing and opening files. In other words, it's a pain in the butt (at least by modern, spoiled lazy-butt standards).
Dell makes this process a lot easier and more natural. Just pop the Latitude 10 into the optional "productivity" dock--to which you can connect a monitor, keyboard and mouse like any docking station--and your touch tablet turns into a full-blown Windows desktop experience. No synching or cloud necessary.
The $699 tablet itself is nothing to sneeze at. It's Intel Clover Trail-based, with a 10.1-inch 1366 X 768 IPS screen. I spent some time with it and it seemed at least as nice as any tablet I've used, but I can't make any real comparisons to others. There's a $50 rebate for now, so the effective price is $649.
The dock's rear connections include three USB 2.0 ports, gigabit Ethernet, and power connection. On the front is one USB 2.0 port and one audio port. The tablet with dock goes for $829, with the same $50 rebate for now. The dock doesn't come with a keyboard or mouse, but you can add those for cheap, for a total under $1,000.
I'm sure other vendors sell the same basic configuration and I'm not declaring Dell's the best. It did make a great first impression on me and I've been a happy Dell customer in the past. (I'm writing this column on an old Dell server into which I shoe-horned Windows 7.)
As I said Thursday, combining PC and tablet into one package saves me from having to buy or carry the second one. With this arrangement, I might not even need my desktop at home. I know what's at the top of my holiday gift list.