Sunday, July 7, 2013

[Review] Dell Latitude 10 Essentials Windows 8 tablet user review–part 5: problems, short falls and the conclusion

This is the part 5 of the Dell Latitude 10 Essentials Windows 8 tablet user review. This one is about problems, short falls and the conclusion.

Note: If you missed the part 1 and 2, click on the following links to read them.

Part 1: Ease of holding the tablet and look & feel

Part 2: Usability

Part 3: The performance, the camera and battery life

Part 4: bundled bloat ware, Windows 8.1 compatibility, recovery and firmware updates

OK, let’s get on with this section then.


Just like every PC, this isn't problem free either. There have been couple of scary issues and there are some minor, but irritatingly frequent issues. I'll first talk about the big issues.
1) Powering on issue

One day in the morning when I pressed the power button to wake up the tablet, it told me that the battery is low and that I have to plug the charger. I pressed and held the power button because there wasn't anything else I could do and plugged the charger in. I left it to charge and came back in about 15minutes to find out that the tablet would not still wake up. I had to leave for work so I left the charger plugged in. When I came back home and checked, the tablet still wouldn't start. Surely it must have charged by now. I did everything I could with the start button and the power button and eventually it started. I don't know if a specific combination worked or it was just random. I even contacted Dell about this and they didn't have any solution other than bringing it in.

2) Screen issue

Then the screen went haywire couple of times. It was like when you get a call to your mobile phone and the CRT display gets vibration like artifacts. The entire screen became like that. A simple reboot fixed it both times.


The artifacts in action

Yesterday in the morning, the touch screen didn’t work when I woke up the tablet! There wasn’t anything I could do, so I had to hold down the power button to power down the tablet. After the reboot, it was fine. I don’t know if this was a problem with the tablet or Windows 8.1 Preview I have installed. (More about Windows 8.1 below)

3) Wi-Fi issues

The other problems are minor and it could be a problem with Windows. I would lose the Wi-Fi connection when resuming from standby. This doesn't happen all the time.

The other problem is also regarding network connectivity. I use the tablet to stream videos and content from the desktop PC. It was one of the key points which made me buy a Windows tablet because none of the other platforms offered easy access to contents stored in the network. Anyways, what happens is say I was watching a video streamed over the network and I pause it for a while. When I try to resume it, say about 30minutes later, I cannot. It says it cannot access the resource anymore. I have to go back to File Explorer and open it again. Stupid stock video player doesn't know how to resume from where it stopped last time. Not helping Microsoft! These apps need a lot of improving.

The shortfalls

Other than the extra weight and the short falls of Windows 8 itself, there are a few shortfalls of this tablet.

1) Speakers are horrible

The audio quality of the speakers is downright BAD. The volume is very low, despite having stereo speakers. The audio quality is also not good. My iPhone 4S only has one small speaker (even though it seems like there are two, only one is actually a speaker) and it is way louder than the tablet's dual speakers and the audio quality is like night and day. I played a music video on YouTube in the tablet and my wife told me that sounds as if it is coming out of a cheap Chinese phone. Wow! Dell???

The reason for low volume level doesn't seem cause by the speakers though. Even when I plugged my then-working-ZAGG Smart Buds, I couldn't max out the volume on the iPhone (i.e. too loud ), but it not that loud on the tablet. It could be that they have made the input to the speakers low because they know that the speakers cannot handle the high volume.

2) The charger is butt ugly

A charger that looks like something that's made for a laptop in the last decade, being offered with a tablet? Seriously DELL? But it charges the tablet quickly at least.


The hideous charger 
3) Wi-Fi speed is very low

When I tried to move the photos and video files from the tablet to my PC over Wi-Fi, I only got like 2-3MBps. That’s pretty slow for 802.11n.

4) Lack of 3G or LTE

I know none of the Windows 8 tablets still doesn’t support 3G or LTE, but since I use the tablet plainly as a consumption device, the need for mobile data connectivity has become critical. The lack of such connectivity options is the reason why I don’t take the tablet outside the house. There is no point having a tablet without internet, because I don’t read. I can watch videos on the move though. I probably could get a mobile Wi-Fi router and that would also save the battery life, but I really need something. Too bad SoftBank doesn’t allow tethering on iPhone 4S. They allow it on iPhone 5 and I’m going to get the next gen iPhone. I probably will be able to take the tablet outside. But maybe I won’t have to, if the iPhone 5S or whatever that’s coming next would do the job.

The grand question: Will I recommend this to anyone?

No, because that audio quality issue is a deal-breaker. That’s the only issue really.
Sure it is slow, but you have no choice. Tablets coming with Intel Core series CPUs are heavy and needs fans. Maybe the ultra low voltage Haswell CPUs will fix that in the future, I’m definitely looking forward to the Surface Pro 2. It might be the tablet to get.
I wouldn’t recommend the iPad either. A Windows 8 tablet does everything that I wanted a tablet to do. This audio quality issue was, sadly,  an unforeseen issue.
If are you in the market for a tablet, either get the iPad Mini or a Clovertrail based Windows 8 tablet from another manufacturer, such as Asus. If audio issue is not a problem for you, then the Dell is not a bad choice.

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