Dell on Thursday debuted a prototype of a tablet PC that the computer maker plans to launch this year, along with its first smartphone.
The tablet was introduced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev., along with a refresh of Dell's Studio and Inspiron line of laptops. The company also unveiled an 11-inch gaming laptop called the Alienware M11x.
In showing off the tablet, Dell joined other major computer makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Lenovo and others, in announcing tablet PCs. The product announcements from Windows PC vendors come as major media report that Apple is getting ready to launch a tablet toward the end of the month. As a matter of company policy, Apple does not comment on future products.
Dell's tablet concept shown at CES has a five-inch display and is being marketed as a companion device to a PC. The product delivers a "full Web experience around accessing, maintaining and syncing and share digital content," Dell said.
Dell introduced the device a day after announcing that AT&T would sell its Android-based smartphone in the United States. The Mini 3 and the tablet mark Dell's move beyond its traditional role as a seller of consumer and business PCs. The Mini 3 is scheduled to be available in the first half of the year. The tablet is expected sometime this year. Pricing was not announced.
The computer maker's Inspiron and Studio lines are being refreshed with Intel's latest dual- and quad-core processors built using the chip maker's 32-nanometer manufacturing process, which boosts performance and energy efficiency from the previous generation of chips.
Inspiron 14-, 15.6- and 17.3-inch mainstream laptops are available with Intel's latest Core i5 processors and sell for a starting price of $849. Systems featuring Intel's new Core i3 chips are scheduled to be available this month for a starting price of $569.
The same size Studio laptops, which contain more entertainment features, are being refreshed with Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors. The 14-inch Studio is scheduled to be available this month for a starting price of $699. The 15.6- and 17.3-inch models will start $849 and $949, respectively.
Dell's entry into the smartphone market is considered a risky move by some analysts, given that it would be going up against long-time manufacturers of mobile phones, such as Samsung, Motorola, and Nokia. In addition, Dell is taking on two of the most successful smartphone makers in the United States, Apple, which makes the iPhone, and Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry.
Dell is also marketing the Alienware M11x as having the "graphics power of a 15-inch laptop in an 11-inch form factor." Dell has not released pricing or availability.