Friday, 21 June 2013

From Latitude to Latitude: a look at Dell's Latitude 10

Dell's Latitude 10 is as most hybrid's become: not a master as either a tablet or a desktop but a fine solution when wanting to have both in a single package.  I had three weeks with the Dell Latitude 10.  I moved my 6 year old Latitude XT to the side, plopped the dock down, and began kicking the tires. Here are my thoughts:

As a teaching tool
Having a tablet that sported Onenote was awesome.  Where my old fliptop Dell would sit at my desk, rarely carried anywhere, the Latitude came with me around the room. Handy if the connection to the projector failed, but
more importantly it became a teaching tool.

My notes on Onenote became my answer key as I walked around the room giving immediate feedback to the students.  I would write on my virtual paper at students' desks to demonstrate Math concepts.  It was engaging for the students and quick and easy for me.

The docking solution for teaching, however, could use some work in my opinion.  When docked to a digital projector, the tablet screen configured to the dimensions of my projector.  This made the image on the tablet even smaller and in turn harder to work with.

And further thought needs to be put into how teachers draw on the device.  When I teach hooked up to a digital projector, drawing on the screen is paramount.  My old Dell had a screen that flipped around and down to become a tablet to write on. On that old Dell: one instance I am laptopping, in another, I am tableting, writing with a stylus on the screen.

The Latitude 10 has seemed to take a step backwards. I either have to take the tablet off the dock and draw with it flat on the desk then put it back on the dock to project my changes or awkwardly draw on the screen while the tablet remains on the dock.  Neither option is preferred.

Possibly a full sized HDMI slot might allow me to connect the tablet directly to the digital projector.  Without using the dock, I could project my inking while the tablet is flat.  A better solution might be a wireless one: making a bluetooth/wifi connection to a separate AppleTV-like device that is plugged into the projector. Then I could project from anywhere. 

I can see now why Apple boasts about their hardware-software niche.  You can tell the Latitude has a slight struggle with its presentation.  Many times I would be swipe, see nothing happen and question: "Is it me; am I doing something wrong; or is it the machine stalling?"  More than once I had to go back to the old ctr-alt-delete to get things started again.  And it's not easy to do that if the dock, with the keyboard and mouse, is back at school.

Several times the connection with my digital projector had disengaged from the tablet when the tablet returned from sleep. Pulling out the HDMI cord from the projector and putting it back in and/or removing the tablet from the base helped reconnect them.  A bug I would hope would be worked out.  

I also used the Latitude to work on Report Cards.  While editing a large file in Word (over 10 MB), I noticed a quarter second lag. It was close to bad enough that I wanted to power up my desktop and work on that instead.  I muddled through but I reflected that a bit more power would avoid this.

More on Apps
The Windows Store does have a lot of what one might need.  Evernote is there but it is not slick.  It seems that I can't swipe but only use the mouse.  With Evernote, it is a right-click to get to the menu, not a swipe from the right.  Apple users have an "intuition" (taught to them by Apple) about how they think things should work. Apps created for the Windows 8 won't necessarily operate the same.  Microsoft may not put as much emphasis into the creating uniformity as Apple does.

No socrative app, Twitter app works well, simple recording software available, games, the Store seems to be building it's repertoire.

The Metro screen is great.  Live-ish updates were made for People, Twitter, book reader, and mail (though I was only able to get the mail app working with Gmail, and not Outlook) apps. 

Windows 8, like the Latitude, is a hybrid operating system: offering the Metro screen and the desktop. Navigating the two can get a little confusing.  For one, switching back to the Metro screen from the desktop to open an app on the desktop seems clunky but it's the Metro screen where I end up pinning things. 

Speakers are good.  The casing has a comfortable feel to it.  Screen is bright. Very light and portable.

All in all we are looking at a good solution that takes advantage of cloud/server storage.  I couldn't help but want a bit more power but I can see how this might be a handy solution for the day to day of teaching.  The lag when dealing with the large report card files is a deal breaker for me, though.  And I don't see report cards going anywhere any time soon. 

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