Dell is packing new technologies like Intel’s Core M chip in its Latitude 13 7000 tablet/laptop hybrid, which the company believes is a better laptop replacement than other products like Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3.
The Latitude 13 7000 is a 13.3-inch tablet, but when attached to a keyboard dock it transforms into a laptop that is more battery friendly than regular laptops, according to Dell.
The dual laptop-tablet functionality is made possible by Intel’s Core M chip, which is a new low-power PC chip adapted for tablets. The chip is Intel’s first based on the Broadwell architecture, and is made using the 14-nanometer process, which brings speed, performance and power improvements over prior tablet chips.
The Latitude 13 will also lay the foundation for wire-free computing with wireless docking capabilities, which will be available for the product, according to a specification sheet. The wireless dock feature will be available for the model, though it isn’t clear when the accessory would be released and if it would be optional.
The company did not talk about the features, but the dock could make possible the wireless streaming of images from tablets to external displays and wireless data transfers to storage devices.
For a true laptop experience, a good keyboard is a must, said Andrea Falkin, brand experience manager for Latitude and OptiPlex at Dell. The dock that ships with the device has a hard keyboard, a spare battery and productivity ports. That gives the Latitude an edge over Surface Pro 3, which has a soft keyboard that is also a cover.
"No compromise experience"
“Unlike Surface Pro, you have this full productivity base,” Falkin said. “The intention behind this was to deliver a no-compromise experience.”
Soft keyboards are mostly not as ergonomic as hard keyboards, but are easier to travel with, said Roger Kay, principal analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates. Dell’s choice of a hard keyboard is apt for commercial customers, who want to run productivity applications, while Microsoft is focusing on convenience and content consumption with Surface Pro 3, for which the soft keyboard is good, Kay said.
Dell is also providing storage of up to 512GB, the same amount available in the Surface Pro 3. But Dell’s tablet has a 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, which isn’t not as good as the Surface Pro 3’s 2160 x 1440-pixel resolution.
Optional LTE broadband connectivity will be available with the Latitude 13. The Surface Pro 3 has no LTE connectivity yet.
Other features in the Latitude include up to 8GB of RAM, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a 2-megapixel front camera and an 8-megapixel rear camera.
The Latitude 13 will be priced starting at $1,199 and will be available worldwide in October. Intel has said Core M products could reach the market at prices starting at US$699, but costs usually shoot up with more memory, faster processors and solid-state drive storage.
Lenovo and Asus are among the companies that have announced tablets and hybrids with the Core M processor. A handful of 13.3-inch tablets are already available in the market, such as Hewlett-Packard’s Split X2 and Pavilion 13 X2, which have Intel’s Haswell processors.