Dell tablet news leaks out

The first tablet by top enterprise PC maker Dell could be a step toward bringing tablets from their traditional markets into the mainstream.

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It's hard to keep a secret in the IT business.

After an article appeared on the Engadget Web site Dec. 6, a Dell spokesperson confirmed that the PC vendor will unveil its new tablet offering—the Latitude XT—at a Dec. 11 event.

In May, Dell first revealed through its Direct2Dell blog that it would offer a convertible tablet PC by year's end that would be geared for the enterprise and several vertical markets, including health care and education.

In the past, Dell has sold tablets made by other vendors, such as Motion Computing, but did not offer its own tablet PC, as company executives believed there was only a limited market. Other companies have forged ahead with their own tablets; Lenovo, for example, revamped its ThinkPad X61 tablet in May. The ThinkPad tablet has a starting price of about $1,800.

A Nov. 12 report by Forrester Research found that while tablets, along with ultralight laptops and ultramobile PCs, receive a good deal of press attention, the majority of enterprise buyers continue to purchase more standard laptops to meet their computing needs. However, the fact that Microsoft incorporated tablet features into its Windows Vista operating system should help boost the market in the next few years.

In addition, since Dell remains the No. 1 supplier of enterprise PCs, it's possible the company could bring the tablet out of its traditional niche—government, education, retailers and utilities—and into the enterprise mainstream.

The Dell spokesperson declined to offer any additional details or product configurations. However, according to the Direct2Dell blog post, the Latitude XT will offer a pen and touch interface and will be "one of the lightest-weight convertible tablets in the marketplace," said Jeff Clarke, senior vice president and general manager of Dell's business product group.

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