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Dell takes aim at iPad, uncloaks enterprise-level Win8 tablet

Latitude 10 Enhanced Security: the fondleslab grows up, gets a job

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MWC 2013 Dell has updated its Windows 8 tablet line, and in doing so has juiced the industry's increasing realization that fondleslabs are here to stay, belong in the enterprise, require enterprise-level security features, and are not just for playing Angry Birds.

"At Dell, we have – unequivocally – the most secure, most manageable, and most reliable product portfolio in the industry," Dell VP and general manager of tablets and performance PCs Neil Hand bragged to a group of journalists invited to a tablet-centric event earlier this month.

"What I'm proud of is we're bringing that same kind of resilience and capability to our tablet products as we do to our traditional Latitude and OptiPlex desktops and laptops," he said.

Last October, Dell introduced what Hand called the company's "first really complete" touch-enabled devices: the 32-bit Windows 8 Latitude 10 tablet and 64-bit Windows 8 XPS 12 convertible, and the Windows RT XPS 10 tablet with optional dockable keyboard.

Monday's announcement adds the Latitude 10 Enhanced Security edition, powered by a 1.8GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z2760, running 32-bit Windows Pro 8, and claiming a 20-hour battery life. What lifts this tablet above its fellows are – as might be guessed by its name – its security enhancements, including a smart card and fingerprint reader.

Other security goodies in the $779 Latitude 10 Enhanced Security edition include Dell Data Protection | Access validation-management drivers, Microsoft BitLocker full-drive encryption, Trusted Platform Module 1.2 network-aware hardware protection, and support for Computrace device-recovery, remote-wiping, and asset-tracking software. Dell Data Protection | Encryption enterprise-wide endpoint encryption and encryption auditing will also be available by mid-year.

"I'd compare [the security features] to some competitive product – perhaps an iPad," Hand said, and he didn't mean that comparison would be a close one. From his point of view, hackers can de-encrypt encrypted data on an iPad "in minutes," but "In our case, it's secure for good."

In addition to security, Hand said, the new Latitude 10 Enhanced Security edition has cost and management advantages that make it more enterprise-worthy than the iPad. Citing a study conducted for Dell by the technology-assessment firm Principled Technologies, he said that there's a "huge comparison in savings compared to iPad deployment if you're deploying hundreds to thousands of devices."

How huge? Principled Technologies conducted a cost of ownership and device-management study for deployments of 1,000 Latitude 10s and 1,000 iPads, and found the Latitude 10 group to be 17 times faster and 94 per cent cheaper to deploy than the iPad group, 85 per cent cheaper to manage over a three-year period, and 99 per cent faster to upgrade.

You should certainly take those numbers with the requisite grain of salt, as is always wise when looking at figures from a company-commissioned study, but it's hard to argue with the premise: iOS and the iPad are designed for individual consumers, while Windows 8 tablets – the Latitude 10 Enhanced Security edition especially – can more easily slot into an enterprise-level, admin-controlled environment that's armed with such tools as Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).

"The iPad world is essentially an admin-free world," Hand said. "You are the administrator of your own device and what you can go and do and control, and that's very difficult to manage" from an enterprise point of view.

iPads are not going away – and neither should they, Hand said. "But when you cross over into the slightly more professional use of it, being in education, healthcare, areas like that, to get the best benefit you have to get some control back. If it's an uncontrolled world you get chaos, and you don't get the benefits you want," he said.

"By providing that level of control, but still allow that 'Hey, I can read my books, I can watch my movies, I can do whatever else,' you get the best of both worlds. That's what we're aiming for." ®

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