Dell, today, officially introduced the Latitude XT, its first product in the tablet category.
Though it's just one notebook, Dell's entry is sure to cause a stir. It's a modest niche of computing that hasn't really gotten off the ground yet. And the interest of the second-largest PC maker in the world can't help but have an impact on the market.
Currently tablet PCs comprise just 2.4 percent of the worldwide notebook market, according to IDC. That's about 2.5 million units shipped total. But as Dell joins other high-profile tablet makers like Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Gateway, and others, the category is expected to grow to 12.3 million units and 6.3 percent of the notebook market by 2011, IDC said. And as volumes go up, prices are sure to go down.
The Latitude XT is aimed chiefly at commercial markets, and Dell says it initially tried to address several of the key complaints expressed by typical tablet users: that they're too bulky, the screen isn't viewable in direct sun, poor handwriting recognition, and inadequate battery life.
Starting at the hefty price of $2,499, the Latitude XT has a 12.1-inch LED-backlit screen, a 1.06-gigahertz Intel Core 2 Solo processor, 1GB of memory, and a 40GB hard drive. It comes with Windows Vista Business edition or XP Tablet Edition. The whole device weighs 3.57 pounds, and has about 5 hours of battery life. It uses capacitive touch input, which recognizes both fingers and an included pen for inputting data. The pen also comes with a right-click button.
Dell says it will begin to take orders and ship the Latitude XT by the end of the year.