Dell Intros Windows 8 Latitude Tablet With Enhanced Security

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2013-02-25

Dell Intros Windows 8 Latitude Tablet With Enhanced Security

BOSTON — Dell is introducing the newest edition of its Windows 8-based tablet, a business-focused system with enhanced security and management capabilities aimed at verticals such as health care, education and government agencies.

Dell announced the 10.1-inch Latitude 10 enhanced security configuration Feb. 25 after coming to several cities last week—including Boston—to talk about the new features and how the Dell tablet is easier to deploy and manage than Apple's popular iPad.

At the same time, the company introduced its Dell Wireless Dock, the first docking station leveraging the WiGig multi-gigabit tri-band WiFi standard, which company officials said offers wireless connectivity that is 10 times faster than the fastest current WiFi networks. The docking station also is compatible with Dell's Latitude 6430u Ultrabook.

During an event here Feb. 22, Tim Gee, director of Dell's Latitude Product Group, told a group of journalists and analysts that unlike other tablet makers, Dell is aiming its tablet lineup more at organizations than at consumers.

"Our focus has been primarily on business users," Gee said.

Dell already sells other tablets, including the Windows 8-based Latitude 10—powered by Intel's Atom platforms—and the XPS 10 (running Microsoft's Windows RT OS and powered by ARM-designed chips) and the XPS 12, a convertible device that can be used as a laptop or tablet. The enhanced Latitude 10 will have an even stronger business focus, he said, pointing to the enhanced security features on the new Latitude 10, improved management capabilities and the introduction of the wireless dock as examples of that corporate focus. The new tablet is powered by Intel's Atom Z2760 chip.

The enhanced Latitude 10 comes at a time when Dell executives are continuing to push the company's transformation away from being primarily a PC maker to being a supplier of enterprise IT solutions and services. That move was heightened by the announcement earlier this month that founder and CEO Michael Dell intends to join with investment firm Silver Lake Partners and Microsoft in a $24.4 billion deal to take the company private, which analysts said would enable company executives to accelerate their efforts outside the glare of Wall Street.

Gee and other Dell officials said during the Boston event that the capabilities in the enhanced Latitude 10 tablet will be a boon to IT pros who are wrestling with the management and security headaches that are inherent in such trends as mobility and bring your own device (BYOD). They note various statistics that talked to their contention that greater security and manageability will lead to reduced costs. For example, according to studies, it costs organizations an average of $5.5 million to deal with a data breach, $50,000 to deal with a lost laptop and $615 to deploy a PC.

In such industries as government and health care, there also is an increased focus on compliance with regulations such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

On the security side, the new tablet comes with integrated endpoint security features such as a fingerprint reader and a smart-card reader, as well as support for third-party security devices. It also includes the Trusted Platform Module 1.2 to enable networks to ensure the integrity of the tablet and to assign full trust to it.

Dell Intros Windows 8 Latitude Tablet With Enhanced Security

Microsoft's BitLocker Drive Encryption also is included, as is support for Computrace software, which enables IT staffs to track the tablet in case it's lost or stolen. There also is a Noble Lock slot for even more hardware security.

"Security is going to be the biggest, hottest issue on IT in health care going into 2013," Andrew Litt, chief medical officer at Dell, said during the event.

Dell officials also touted the use of Microsoft's new Windows 8 operating system, which will make it easier for the tablets to fit into a business environment, where so much work is already done on Windows. In addition, they said that with the ability to swap batteries, users will have as much as 20 hours of battery life with the new Latitude 10.

The officials touted the business case for using the Latitude 10 over Apple's iPad, pointing to a study done by Principled Technologies at Dell's request that they said shows how much easier and less expensive it is for large enterprises to deploy and manage the Dell machines over the iPad. According to the study, the Dell tablets are 17 times faster, 94 percent less expensive to deploy, 85 percent cheaper to manage and 99 percent faster with software updates.

The comparison with the iPad is important, given the Apple device's rapid embrace by executives and workers alike. When asked about the hundreds of thousands of applications available on the iPad, Litt said that when presented with a suitable alternative application from Microsoft, many users will be OK with the alternative app. Security also will be an issue in driving decisions on what apps doctors may want, he said.

"It won't be perfect, but there will be a shift," Litt said.

Jack Gold, president of analyst firm J. Gold Associates, said he understood Dell's business push, but said too much of the focus seems to be on the IT folks. Dell officials need to pay attention to those who will use the tablet, not just those who will manage and deploy it.

"In most organizations today, it's not IT making decisions [about technology], it's the line-of-business guys," Gold told eWEEK. "They may have a good tablet, they may have a good solution in Windows … but they have to appeal to end users."

They also need to do it relatively quickly, he said. Gone are the days when a company could take three years to build a market. Gold estimated that Dell has 12 to 18 months to get its tablet business humming, or risk ending up as an also-ran in the space like BlackBerry and Nokia.

Dell also has the added burden of trying to do so with Windows 8, which is essentially a whole new OS with a new user interface, meaning it will take time for users to learn how to use it, he said.

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