Dell's $499 Windows 8 tablet looks like a win for business

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Tablets are just consumer toys, right? Well, that argument has been a tad dubious since it was first used against the original iPad, but the new breed of tablets running the full Windows 8 OS truly challenge the assertion. A new Windows 8 tablet offering from Dell promises to deliver a full PC experience in a tablet that starts at only $499.

The Dell Latitude 10 essentials configuration is not an entirely new tablet—just a new, more economical configuration of the Dell Latitude 10. It has the same 1.8GHz Intel Atom processor, and 2GB of RAM with a 10.1-inch IPS Corning Gorilla Glass display.

It is lacking some of the features of its more robust sibling. It does not have a swappable battery, and the rear camera is missing the LED flash. It has a full USB port, but lacks the mini-USB and mini-HDMI ports. And, it can use a passive stylus, but it doesn’t support the Wacom Active Stylus.

The optional dock lets the Latitude 10 act like a desktop as well.

The tablet pricing goes head to head with the 16GB base model of Apple’s iPad, and Microsoft’s Surface RT—which also offers a 32GB model for $499. The difference is that the iPad runs iOS, and the Surface RT runs the Windows RT OS, while the Dell Latitude 10 comes with the full 32-bit Windows 8 Pro.

That means that the Dell Latitude 10 can join a Microsoft Windows network domain. It can be managed with Active Directory and Group Policy. It can install and run all of the Windows software businesses are already using on their Windows PCs.

The Latitude 10 essentials configuration can also be used with an optional productivity dock. The dock has four USB ports, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, and audio output—enabling you to use a monitor, speakers, wired Ethernet connection, and full-size mouse and keyboard to get things done while sitting at your desk, with the flexibility to just grab the tablet and take it with you when you leave your desk.

A dockable tablet running the full Windows 8 operating system for $500 looks like a win-win for businesses struggling to justify a “consumer toy” for mobile productivity. The Dell Latitude 10 essentials configuration, if it works as promised, is the sort of tablet that provides the best of both worlds and may define what next-generation computing looks like.

Dell is making the 64GB model of the Latitude 10 essentials configuration available starting today for $579. The 32GB version will be available soon for $499.

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