Dell joins tablet PC market with launch of Latitude XT

Tablet boasts capacitive touch capability, a 120 GB3 hard drive, and up to 9.5 hours of battery life

Dell on Tuesday made its first foray into the tablet PC market, unveiling the 3.5-pound, 12.1 inch Latitude XT.

The convertible tablet can be used with a keyboard and mouse, but also has a touch screen that can be manipulated with a finger or a stylus. The tablet has an optional daylight viewing panel for both indoor and outdoor use, as well.

"Dell's plan to enter the tablet PC market will help promote the platform among its large number of customers and help facilitate the product category to go mainstream," said Doug Bell, an analyst at IDC, in a statement.

Dell's move into the tablet PC market comes just weeks after reports appeared showing that Hewlett-Packard's third-quarter sales totals extended its already substantive lead over Dell. HP expanded its market share to 19.2% in the third quarter, up from 18.3% in the second quarter and 16.5% in the third quarter of last year. In the same quarter, Dell's PC market share fell to 14.6%, which is down from 16.3% a year earlier.

Dell, however, isn't sitting around waiting for its numbers to magically improve.

Last week, the company announced it will soon begin selling its desktop and laptop computers at Best Buy Co. stores, extending its push into the retail world in its apparent attempt to mount a stronger challenge to rival HP. Dell long depended only on direct sales channels to sell its computers for many years, but the company began branching out into retail outlets last summer when it started selling computers in Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in the U.S.

Now Dell is taking on the tablet PC market.

The Latitude has capacitive touch capability, which senses the touch of a finger with no pressure required for the system to recognize input, according to Dell. It also has an optional docking base, a 120 GB3 hard drive, and up to 9.5 hours of battery life.

The Latitude XT has a list price of US$2,499.

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