The Tablet PC is much maligned, but Dell has now decided it's time to work on one. Due to be called the Latitude XT, the move sees Dell ape the Tablet confidence of its major competitor HP.

HP has recently released details of a brand new metal-finished tablet, the Compaq 2710p. Like Dell's new model, the Compaq 2710p will be based on Intel's recently announced Centrino Pro ( Santa Rosa ) mobile platform. Last year HP took the market leadership from Dell, so competition between the giants is strong.

Speaking to ZDNet UK , Dell marketing man Eric Greffier says that it's the right time for Dell to get into the market. "Historically, I do not believe there has been a market... it is clearer now that convertible is the format."

It now seems large players are convinced there is a market for the Tablet PC - support for which is native in many versions of Windows Vista. Before, users had to opt for the costlier Tablet PC variant of Windows XP.

Greffier also mused that Dell had wanted to wait for the Santa Rosa platform to become available. It's now possible to power-up the LCD for outdoor use for a significant period of time. Long enough to make a difference, anyway.