Dell is to make its first foray into the convertible tablet PC market. Dell will release its first convertible tablet PC later this year.

Story updated with images, 21 May 2007

Dell anounced that it is working on the machine on a company blog. In the same blog Dell showed a prototype of the tablet PC.

"We are entering the [tablet PC] market and we will enter the market later this year," said Jeff Clarke, senior vice president of Dell's business product group, during the minute-long video.

"The technology and customer and usage models have evolved to the point where it makes it right for Dell to enter the marketplace," he said. "We're excited and everybody, we're coming."

Dell's tablet PC will be targeted at the education, healthcare and corporate markets, said Clarke. Dell didn't offer any technical specifications of the machine but Clrke said it will be "one of the lightest weight" tablet PCs in the market. The version shown in the video was running Windows Vista.

Tablet PC account for only a fraction of the portable PC market but growth in the sector is expected to outperform the overall market over the next few years, according to research company IDC.

Shipments of convertible tablet PCs like that planned by Dell are expected to total 1.5 million units this year, IDC said in a December 2006 report. That's 1.4 percent of the entire market, which is expected to total 100.5 million units in 2007. Between 2005 and 2010 the portable market will grow at an annual average of 18.9 percent, while the convertible tablet market grows at 45.9 percent per year, said IDC.

Last week Fujitsu unveiled a convertible PC in Tokyo, aimed at business users.

Dell tablet PC

Dell tablet PC