Last week I’ve received my Dell Latitude XT2. Standard the XT2 is equipped with Vista business and receives its multi-touch capabilities through the N-trig driver. Since Windows 7 has native support for multi-touch I decided to install Windows 7.
Before staring the installation I made a manual full backup with my Windows home server and copied the Dell drivers folder to an USB stick. The installation of Windows 7 itself went smooth, about 20 minutes after starting the installation I was presented with the wizard to configure the network. After the initial reboot the XT2 immediately started downloading drivers through Windows Update. I decided to let it do that to see how much of the hardware was usable after that. After the reboot most of the hardware seemed to be working, even though the device manager showed several exclamation marks. Since video, sound and even the touch screen was working.
After installing the Vista drivers from Dell everything seemed to be working. Just multi-touch and the light sensor were not working properly. The light sensor responded very aggressive and often turned the backlight completely off. Turning the sensor of solved this little problem. After installing the N-trig RC drivers for the touch screen the multi-touch functionality started working like a charm. It’s much more responsive than it is in Vista, browsing for instance responses much better with zooming and the use of gestures. Not just touch was working with more responsiveness; the whole experience with Windows 7 seems to feel much snappier. I can’t really put my finger on it, but the overall feeling is that the tablet pc has gotten more mature with Windows 7.
Unfortunately there are a few drawbacks aside of the light sensor. The screen has some issues on the right side of the screen; it is like someone is tapping the screen. These taps can change the focus of windows, so ultimately it’s not usable. Switching to pen-only input solves this, but for me is a deal breaker. Just using the pen has some small issues too, in Journal the cursor changes shape if you erase something. But it keeps this shape afterwards, making it hard to position your pen again for writing. Palm rejection didn’t seem to work very well either, in dual mode you really have to be careful not to lift the pen to much.
Back to Vista
I needed my tablet for some writing so I decided to try the restore function of Windows Home Server. Restoring the tablet back to Vista was very simple. Windows Home Server comes with a PC Restore Disk. Booting from this disk starts a Windows PE session with a wizard that will guide you through the process. If you are familiar with Microsoft Deployment toolkit, this looks very similar.
After clicking through the wizard it took 10 minutes to completely recover to the Vista installation. After rebooting the familiar Vista login was displayed.
I’m sure these issues will be solved in the final version of the N-trig drivers. But until then I’ll stick to Vista.