Dell has launched its first 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 IDC analyst Doug Bell.

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 percent in the third quarter, up from 18.3 percent in the second quarter and 16.5 percent in the third quarter of last year. In the same quarter, Dell's PC market share fell to 14.6 percent, which is down from 16.3 percent a year earlier.

The Latitude has capacitive touch capability, which senses the touch of a finger with no pressure required for the system to recognise 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.