Windows 7 on a Dell Latitiude XT2

delllatitudext21

I’ve been looking to get a tablet PC for some time now and I’ve just recently picked up a Dell Latitude XT2, which includes multi-touch support. It arrived the same day as the Windows 7 Release Candidate, so the default Windows Vista install, disappeared pretty quickly.

I must say though, it’s a little disappointing to see the amount of packaging the laptop was shipped in compared to what you’re actually left with. Here’s a couple of photos to give you an idea of the packaging – here’s what’s in the box, and here’s the wasted space inside the accessories box. Surely Dell could do better in the packaging department.

Hardware

My main aims for this machine is to go with something in an ultra-portable form-factor for good battery life and prability and the tablet PC screen for reading. Here’s the hardware:

  • Mobile Intel 45 Express Chipset with Intel vPro
  • ULV Intel Core 2 Duo U9400 (1.4Ghz, 800Mhz FSB, 3MB cache)
  • 3GB DDR3 1067Mhz RAM
  • 64GB Samsung RBX series SSD
  • 6 cell battery
  • Intel 5300 WiFi card
  • Dell Wireless 365 Bluetooth module
  • Dell Wireless 5530 3G/HSDPA module
  • Broadcom fingerprint sensor
  • Broadcom TPM 1.2

Windows 7 (x86) installed from a USB memory stick in a little under 10 minutes and the laptop has a not too shabby performance rating – I’m pretty pleased that the hard disk gets a rating of 6.7:

xt2performanceinformation2

Drivers & Software

Windows Update offered the following updates:

  • Driver for Mobile Intel 45 Express Chipset family (beta WDDM 1.1 display drivers)
  • Dell Tablet PC key buttons

There were a few drivers and updates that I’ve had to download. Keeping to the absolute minimum, I installed the following:

Broadcom USH CV w/ Fingerprint Swipe Sensor. This was marked as an unknown device named 5880 in Device Manager. Download the ControlPoint Security Manager driver for this device.

Dell Wireless 5530 HSPA Mobile Broadband Minicard Device. Dell Wireless 5530 broadband package is a part of the ControlPoint Connection Manager. I’ve avoided the Connection Manager itself and have installed just the driver package.

Windows 7 will enable touch input for the display by default; however the N-trig DuoSense Multi-Touch package for Windows 7 (information page here) beta drivers are required for multi-touch input. The beta driver package ran a firmware upgrade on my screen – oddly enough only after several installs (I’ve reinstalled Windows a few times while checking the drivers).

Until you install the beta drivers, an unknown device will be shown in Device Manager. Once installed, multi-touch is enabled:

system1

After loading the driver for the screen, calibration is required to improve accuracy. Whilst pen input appears to be fairly accurate out of the box, touch input improves with calibration.

Two devices, listed as PCI Serial Port and PCI Simple Communications Controller, are the Intel AMT SOL and the Intel AMT HECI respectively.

The Dell ControlPoint System Manager is required for various functions including managing the screen orientation, the ambient light sensor, additional power settings, keyboard hot keys and

Dell ControlPoint

The ControlPoint software encompasses a number of modules – System Manager (control of the tablet and display & other devices), Security Manager (manages the TPM, fingerprint sensor and other security functions) and Connection Manager (controls wireless LAN and broadband functions). As is usual for most of this type of software, it contains many components that mimic functionality already built into Windows Vista and 7, making the software largley redundant.

Why manufactures continue to include second rate alternatives to the far more elegant tools in the OS, I can’t quite fathom. Perhaps they’re worried you’ll forget what brand of machine you’ve bought and want every possible opportunity to shove their logo in your face – user experience be damned..

Fingerprint Sensor

Setting up and configuring the fingerprint sensor appears to be a little convoluted. I’m not sure why Windows hasn’t enabled functionality on the logon screen with just the driver installed, maybe I’ve missed something. I am keen to stay away from the bloated Dell ControlPoint Security Manager, so I’ll have to do without the sensor for identification/authentication.

Bluetooth Module

To get the bluetooth module working, I’ve had to install the Widcomm bluetooth software – I was unable to load just the driver. This bluetooth stack includes some extras that I really don’t need such as Office integration and the ability to share files over bluetooth.

Windows Virtual PC

Windows Virtual PC works just as you would expect; however to get it up and running you will need to disable VT for Direct I/O and Trusted Execution (not to be confused with DEP) in the BIOS.

Usage

Windows 7 runs very well on this laptop. There’s not really much that you can say about performance – it’s quick (even with the low voltage CPU) and does exactly what I need it to do.

Switching from pen to touch input is very quick and responsive. The digitizer does have an issue that appears to be caused by the beta drivers – an intermittent phantom touch or pen input is received, usually on the right-hand side of the screen. This does go away eventually, but reappears regularly after resume or boot.

The pen is great for writing input (obviously), but also more pinpoint accuracy than you would get with a finger. Using touch input however, is great for scrolling through documents in Word or a web browser. Internet Explorer does a better job of being controlled by pen or touch than does Chrome or Firefox. You can use touch input to move the page up and down directly, whereas the other browsers can only be controlled with flicks (which will page up/page down).

FeedDemon works well with both touch and pen input; however it would be nice to be able to make the FeedDemon UI a little larger to better accommodate touch input. Thankfully I’ve got skinny fingers so it’s workable.

Being able to control the computer with touch input is very convenient, especially when you are reading documents or RSS feeds. Whether touch is just a bit of a gimmick or a valid method of input a little more usage will reveal, but it certaintly is convenient.

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  • Nasos Kladakis

    Nice post. I have the same tablet, and I am facing a problem with the wifi nic. IT IS NOT THERE!!!
    Also the drivers, are not installed due to “incompatibilty” issues although I have tried the compatibility mode execution
    Any ideas?

  • http://www.viridisit.com Nicke
  • Munir

    Very useful post. Thank you. I set up my Xt2 the same way. The problem with the mouse jumping around is however quite annoying and makes the machine less useful. Have you found a solution to that? Based on other forums, it seems likethe n-trig beta drivers are the culprit. If you switch them to “touch only” – that seems to fix the issue during one session. But the next standby/resume cycle – the problem comes back.
    Munir

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    @Munir, I think the only thing we can do at this stage it to wait until N-Trig release a newer driver version.

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    @Nasos, sounds like a hardware issue with your wireless card rather than a driver issue. Is the WLAN light on? The BIOS will show you all the hardware present, so you can be sure the card is OK.

  • Tom Gabriel

    Finaly found someone with almost same setup, nice post.
    Unfortunatly I came across two problems:
    First, using a 128GB Samsung SSD RBB I have an unusual high cpu-usage while fileoperations (AHCI and ATA-Mode). Some benches show 25% and higher.
    Second, the fingerprintrecognition is fine under win7, but i can’t use the fingerprintmodule for bootprotection like on the Dell xps’. After hours of setupchanges I have no more ideas what to do, but same problems under vista too.

  • Dan

    I’m running Win7 on my XT2 as well. Also noticed the phantom touch problem (which goes away if you disable touch) – glad to see others are reporting same issue.

    The other issue I have is some sort of video driver problem. Very often the screen gets extremely garbled – as if the video driver is having fits. It can sometimes be cleaned up by doing a minimize/restore on the window. However, it happens far too often and is making the laptop very unusable. I’ve noticed that there have been several updates to the “Driver for Mobile Intel 45 Express Chipset family (beta WDDM 1.1 display drivers)” deployed through Windows Update. However the issue remains. Anyone else experiencing this issue? I’m running 64-bit Win7 RC (build 7100).

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    @Dan, I haven’t had an issue with display corruption for some time, unfortunately, other than a driver update, I can’t remember what would have fixed it

  • Dan

    I may have found a solution. I had been running one of the Aero themes. I switched to the Windows 7 Basic theme today and haven’t seen the display artifacting problem yet. Perhaps it’s an issue with the driver and Aero?

  • Tyler

    @Aaron
    Were you able to configure the hot buttons on this? The only one that works is the CTRL. I haven’t been able to get the rotate screen button to work.

  • Tyler

    It looks like the quickset tool controls the hot buttons. Except I can’t find that application on Dell’s website.

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    Hi Tyler, you’ll need to install the Dell ControlPoint System Manager to control the tablet buttons. Go here.

  • Tyler

    Thanks Aaron. I’ve installed that. Where do I go to find the control settings?

  • Tyler

    LOL! Can I remove my last posting? Just noticed I didn’t install the System Manager. I did install the security and connection manager, though. Thanks for that Aaron

  • Mario

    Thank you for the article. I am a lucky owner of an XT2, bought basically to showcase Seven to customers and your tips have been extremely helpful.
    About the multitouch driver from nTrig, I had to uninstall it after a few days because the “phantom” touch bug was extermely bad and I could hardly use the PC (expecially after a resume). I’m living with the single touch driver until they won’t update the beta drivers.
    I was unable to install the fingerprint sensor driver (even downloading the security manager from Dell).
    Seven has indeed biometrics authentication integrated in the OS. On another laptop I have (an ASUS), Seven could install the driver for the fingerprint reader and enabled the biometric logon without further software installation. Amazing…

  • Alan

    Dan
    I have the same issues as you regarding the video driver problem (and the phantom touch!) I am running the 32 bit Win 7 RC. Did turning of the aero theme solve the problem? I will try it later, but thought I would ask.

    The phantom touch issue is becoming a bit of a pain, but I do like the touch and the pen so am loathed to turn off touch at this point!

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    I’ve not been able to do anything to get rid of the phantom touch. Changing themes has no effect. I think the only thing we can do at this stage is to wait for a new version of the drivers.

    Strangely (or unfortunately) N-Trig don’t mention this issue on their Known Issues page: http://www.n-trig.com/Content.aspx?Page=Known_Issues

  • Sebastian

    I don’t have the phantom-problem (or maybe i just didn’t see it yet).

    But how did you get the fingerprint reader to work under 7? I upgraded from Vista, so the drivers were still installed and working – but it always told me that the TPM isn’t loaded when I was trying to login. I uninstalled the Dell Security Manager then and reinstalled the drivers, but now I can’t find any setting to activate it at all.
    Any ideas?

  • Sebastian

    Oh and furthermore, my ambient light sensor doesn’t work. Whenever I switch it on, the screen goes dark. Any ideas with this point? :)
    (Both systems worked under Vista)

  • Sebastian

    Alright, for those who also have a same problem with the fingerprintreader after an upgrade: Reset the TPM-Chip, reinitialise it and add your fingerprint(s) again.

    The ambient light sensor also works now after several reboots, though it’s imo always a bit too dark, but I guess I have to live with that (or to adjust it every time).

  • Raolin

    Hi all, i got my fingers on the last RTM-build of the nTrig drivers (build 17.06.2009). With the old version from the ntrig-site i suffered a lot from the ghost-mouse-movements, but as far as i can see, this is fixed with the new version.
    Another question. The build in UMTS-Modem is quite a pain for me. Often i cannot get a connection, or the Modem tool says, that the UMTS connection is working, but the windows network says that there is no network connection.
    Any ideas?

    Best regards
    Raolin

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    Hi Raolin, great news about the drivers. Can you save our collective sanity and share them?

    I don’t use the modem, so I can’t offer any help there.

  • http://www.papapwnsnoobs.com Ryan

    BRILLIANT find with the Bluetooth 365 driver, superfluous crap on board or not. I’ve been pulling my hair out for the last month and decided to give it another go tonight. Found your post and so happy I did. I’m not as put together as you gems, but my Inspiron 1545 (cheap cheap) is loving your research regardless. Cheers!

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    Glad I could help Ryan.

  • Evan Smith

    Aaron, or anyone who can help. After running certain programs, let it run, close the cover and go to standby. Now, when you wake up the machine, everything run very slowly. CPU usage can stay on 100% all the time, mostly svhost. Once you plug the AC adapter, the computer runs back to normal again. The whole thing happens as well in reverse. That is, run everything on AC adapter, unplug the cord, on battery everything slows again???

  • Davide

    Hey guys!

    I had an XT1 before I got the XT2. There weren’t any problems with installing drivers on the XT1 using the 7077 build of windows 7, but the RC was more picky.

    Could the same hold true for the XT2 ? I have the RC installed on my XT2, but many a component is missing as the drivers from the resource CD won’t install.
    Your post I think will help solve the most problems with drivers under the RC, but stuff like GPS or the SD-Card reader will remain mysteries won’t they?

  • Raolin

    Hi! Finally good news! WIndows 7 is final, today i got the Win 7 Ultimate RTM. It took 25 Minutes to install it on the XT2. There was no need to download any NTRIG-Driver. Multitouch is working well, no ghost taps. Under System i have the statement “Pen and Touch Input available with 6 Touch Points”. All 6 points are working, at least under Paint.

    Best regards
    Raolin

  • http://blog.gadodia.net Vaibhav

    This is an awesome post, and I have bookmarked it. I have ordered an XT2 myself, and plan to install Win 7 on it. So, I will definitely come back to it.

    I am going to install the (x64) version. And I hope there are no new problems in it that you haven’t already covered (that way I don’t have to look elsewhere).

  • Maestro

    Hey Raolin,

    I installed both x86 and x64 versions of windows 7 ultimate RTM on my xt2 and didn’t get the “Pen and Touch Input available with 6 Touch Points”. Mine only says “Pen and Single Touch Input Available”. Do you have to enable it or get the elusive”windows 7 touch pack”?

  • maximus

    Hey Roalin, Same as Maestro : installed various recent builds and now have the x64 RTM final release, still does not include multitouch as default. Loaded latest Beta drivers from NTRIG website
    Driverversion: 1.26
    Firmware version: 4.3.6.13.5
    Software bild version: 2.59.0
    And gives me pen& touch with 10 touchpoints but still gives ghost taps and no multitouch even though I have the windows 7 touch pack as well.
    Please tell us what version windows 7 works for you ? if you are using x86 or x64 ? and what driver version you think came with your RTM ( control panel\ N-trig ) ?
    Many thanks, Maximus

  • Raolin

    Hi Maestro, hi Maximus!

    The Microsoft Touch Pack for Windows 7 is only a collection of Demo-Applications for touch functionality. My Windows-Version is the x64 RTM final U.S. – i think the US-version is the only available right now.

    Ok, heres something different: I have not installed ANY software for the nTrig-Device. There is no entry in the control panel for nTrig. I can only see 3 devices in the device manager. My driver Version is 1.26. Where can i check the Firmware and the build?

    By the way after a couple of days using it, i am back to the “… 4 Touch Points.”
    Best regards
    Raolin

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    Have you attempted an upgrade vs. clean install? I’ve gone the upgrade route and have 4 touch points. I’ll try a clean install at some stage to see the difference.

  • Raolin

    Hi Aaron, i did a clean install … never ever an upgrade :-)

  • Raolin

    Hi all,

    today i did a new install on my XT2. Win7 RTM 32bit. I have only 3 GB Ram, so 32 is ok. But … i got from nTrig new drivers. Build is 07-13-09.
    Driver: 1.26
    FW: 4.4.15.13.5
    Software: 2.125
    So far i see no difference, i have my 4 touch points back instead of 6… so far (in the last 10 minutes) no ghost taps …
    Best regards
    Raolin

  • cbr600

    I need to ask simply “Do I really need to install the ControlPoint system software to use the CTRL / Windows Security button and the Screen rotate button on the front of the display?” I mean I know Dell recommends it but I’m trying to avoid installing extra software on XT2. Up until now, I have the CTRL button working but thats it…. Any input would be appreciated, Thanks.

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    @cbr600, you do need to install the ControlPoint System Manager to be able to use all of the hardware buttons.

  • maximus

    Hi Raolin,

    Thanks for your reply, I am running Windows7 RTM version, Technet on the XT2 with 3gig just like you. I know the touchpack shouldnt affect anything but since installing it I tried to reinstall the N-TRIG drivers and am now down to pen+1 touchpoint and cant get even 4 up let alone the 10 it told me I had once before ….
    The drivers i have are the 2.59 old beta versions but I cant find the new ones you mention Anywhere are you able to PM me a copy, as it could really help me out, many thanks

    B.t.w you can open up the drivers with uniextract and extract or change the ini files, unfortunately this doesn’t help solve my problem.

  • http://stealthpuppy.com Aaron Parker

    @maximus: RTM N-trig drivers: http://bit.ly/7yMKV

  • maximus

    Hey Aaron, you are an absolute Star!!!

    Many thanks, paint.net works well again and am now looking at an intel SSD the new 1.8inch x25m g2 as they have come down in price and will be perfect for win7 in the dell.
    I will then move my old drive out into an ICY box external usb & esata drive caddy, that docks in my main pc’s 3.5inch bay for true portability !

    All the best Maximus,

  • Boris GUNTHER

    Hi,
    I have just upgrade my XT2 to Windows 7 RTM in 64 Bits.
    I have a little problem : the scroll feature (when you touch the left side of the touchpad) do not function any more. Any idea to enable this function ?
    Regards
    Boris

  • Mitch

    @Aaron: Many thanks! I can’t believe the phantom taps have stopped!

    @maximus: I have the older 1.8inch x25m intel SSD running in my XT2 and the performance difference versus the was staggering. Here are the benchmarks:

    TOSHIBA MK8016GSG Benchmark
    Read transfer rate
    Transfer Rate Minimum : 26.9 MB/sec
    Transfer Rate Maximum : 37.6 MB/sec
    Transfer Rate Average : 32.8 MB/sec
    Access Time : 16.8 ms

    INTEL SSDSA1MH080G1G Benchmark
    Read transfer rate
    Transfer Rate Minimum : 86.6 MB/sec
    Transfer Rate Maximum : 134.2 MB/sec
    Transfer Rate Average : 112.7 MB/sec
    Access Time : 0.2 ms

  • http:blog.gadodia.net Vaibhav

    I cannot find 64 bit versions of Dell software for windows7. Any help???

  • luettke

    Download and use the Vista 64 bit driver (version date: 12-August). They are certified for Win 7. You can see the certified OS versions it in the installation Window.

  • http://blog.gadodia.net Vaibhav

    Thanks Luettke, that is exactly the answer I was hoping for :D

  • http://blog.gadodia.net Vaibhav

    Guys,

    I have Win 7 RTM, 64 bit, on XT2. I have tried installing Vist 64 drivers from Dell (mainly to enable multi-touch). However, I have been seeing multiple problems since I did that.

    I am almost going to reinstall on it, and just wait for the latest drivers from Dell to become available.

  • Ted

    Evan, or whoever regarding extreme slowness on battery: if you installed the Texas Instruments driver (TEXAS-INSTRUMENTS_TUSB3410-U_A01_R203653), uninstall it from add/remove programs , worked for me.

    Sidenote: Dell Control Point System Manager gives a c runtime error in ntriginterface.dll after install 64bit rtm ntrig drivers. No big deal it seems, fixed my phantom clicks, buttons still work.

  • Ted

    Hmm, might not have been the TI drivers. It was the last entry in the Uninstall Programs list (not widcomm).

  • john

    Guys,

    theres some new updates on the dell website for the xt2 including bios update. Has anyone elses XT2 go into reboot loop when attached to powersupply?

  • Ted

    I updated to the A02 bios before I installed win7. No reboot loop when connected to the power supply for me. Try disabling automatic reboot on bsod: FN+WIN+Pause > Advanced system settings > Startup and Recovery Settings > Automatically restart.

  • Lauren

    Hello

    Just wondering if it’s a big issue to do a “upgrade” install on Win7 from Vista on the XP2. People say don’t do it, but I wonder if it’s actually a big problem. I get my XP2 on Friday and it’s a supplemental computer so I wouldn’t mind running Win7 on it for that “wow’ factor.

    Thanks, Lauren

  • maximus

    Also just to confirm bios update works fine in win7 rtm and now my charge on USB while powerd off seems to work again.

    Advice for upgraders, Dont-do it ……. lots of lagacy issues and file permissions and old program stuff, tried twice but them had problems with office and photoshop etc, …
    my recommendation , download the new Acronis beta you can then image your drive to a backup.tib file that you can access anything you need from later, then you can partition your pc into c & d drive and then do a win7 install onto the c partition, with all your data left safely on D ..perfect

    @Mitch, spec’s look cool, ordered but still waiting the x18-m 34nm for mine, your makin me jealous,