The emerging Windows 8 tablets have not been all that price-friendly for small businesses and schools. But that is beginning to change, with Dell's announcement of a Windows 8 tablet for those markets, featuring a starting price of $500.

The Latitude 10 Essentials tablet is designed to provide a secure Relevant Products/Services, enterprise Relevant Products/Services-ready tablet for the company's price-conscious customers. Neil Hand, vice president of Dell end user computing products, said in a statement that his company's experience in providing "cost effective, tailored solutions" has led to this tablet model, which deploys "the latest technology while balancing IT control and end-user productivity."

To fit into existing IT environments, the device supports new and legacy Windows applications as well as Adobe Flash, connects with existing peripherals, comes with Windows 8 or, for $25 more, Windows 8 Pro, and, Dell said, can utilize existing mobile Relevant Products/Services device management software and software licenses.

Configured for Sharing

The Latitude 10 is configured to use applications for curriculum management and other educational functions in Dell's Education Cloud services. It is also optimized for being shared among users, such as by employees in a real estate office, and offers tools for collaboration among students.

The model features an Intel Relevant Products/Services Atom Z2760 1.8-GHz processor Relevant Products/Services, magnesium alloy casing, Corning Gorilla Glass, and there's optional Dell ProSupport for 24/7 tech support. There is also 2 GB of memory, a 10.1-inch screen with 1366x768 resolution, 10-finger multi-touch interaction, a USB 2.0 port, micro HDMI output, and an optional productivity dock for a traditional keyboard and mouse, wired LAN connectivity and a SD card slot.

The 32 GB model is priced at $499, and the 64GB at $579. Both schools and small businesses could find appealing the ability to quickly install the tablet into a configuration with mouse, keyboard and monitor, to use it as a mobile device, and to readily snap it into a Windows management and support environment.

'Price Breakthrough'

More affordable Windows 8 tablets like this new Dell model are now beginning to show up, including the recently announced Acer Iconia W510, which, like the Latitude 10, is Atom-based, has a 10.1-inch display at 1366x768, and has a starting price of about $500.

Michael Gartenberg, research director and an analyst for the Gartner Relevant Products/Services Group, called the new Dell product "a price breakthrough" that helps drop the entry point for the Windows 8 tablet category. He noted that it is "way too early to tell how well Windows 8 devices are doing in the marketplace," but that having such a "price diversity will help Microsoft Relevant Products/Services."

Gartenberg pointed out that the lower price for this model was achieved by dropping Wacom's active digitizer, which supports digital inking and is available on Dell's pricier version of the 10-inch Latitude tablet, and by having a sealed, two-cell, 30 hour battery instead of a replaceable one. He added that we can expect to see more Windows 8 tablets priced in this range soon.