Sunday, November 11, 2012

Windows 8 on Dell Latitude ST

Dell Latitude ST
I am a firm believer of promoting technology reuse. Old technology can still have value. However, just like cars, computers depreciate in value. Old computers that may not have any financial value might have functional value. For that reason, I'm always checking out what is available in the Dell Outlet.

With the release of Windows 8, I was curious as to how well it would work on a Dell Latitude ST tablet since they were available in clearance in the Dell Outlet. Reading comments online about the performance of the Latitude ST running with Windows 7 were not too good. In addition, several of my colleagues had purchased the tablet and did not have anything favorable to say about it either. I definitely wanted to try Windows 8 on it before spending any money on it.

I was able to borrow a Latitude ST from a colleague to play around with for a few days. 120GB SSD, 1.50GHz Intel Atom CPU Z670, and 2GB of RAM. It has a capacitive multi-touch screen with digital pen input that supports 4 Touch Point. Compare that to the 1.66GHz Intel Atom CPU N570 in my Dell Inspiron Duo with no pen support and only 2 Touch Points, one would assume that the Latitude ST table would work great with Windows 8 installed. Well, you know what they say when make assumptions.

While I have seen older computers perform better after Windows 8 is installed, the same can't be said about the Latitude ST. Windows 8 will install on it but you will need to get the current, Windows 8 specific drivers from Motion Computing because Dell does not have them on their website. It is also recommended to update the BIOS if needed, which you can get from Dell's website (current version is A05).

Windows Experience Index error
The touch responsiveness of the Latitude ST with Windows 8 installed is terrible. It's slow, sluggish and many of the gestures do not work. I had to swipe or touch the screen multiple times to get it to register and respond. Alternatively, the pen worked great with it. Also tried to run the Windows Experience Index and it crashed the tablet each time requiring a reboot. Did I mention how heavy the device is compared to other tablets?

Overall, the Dell Latitude ST is made for those who have need for a stylus. Is it usable? It depends. If you have need for a stylus it could be doable, but I would not recommend it if you are looking for a device to get a decent Windows 8 touch experience. I won't be picking one up no matter how cheap they get.

UPDATE 11/20/2012: Not being one to give up easily, I played around with the touch calibration settings to see if that would resolve the touch interface issues (Control Panel\Tablet PC Settings). There was a small improvement, but not enough to change my mind about it.