Dell (Nasdaq: DELL), the world's No. 2 PC maker, is taking its fledgling tablet-computer business very seriously and will soon launch a new 7-inch device. A 10-inch device, which will challenge Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad, will launch next year, a top company executive has revealed.

Speaking to The Wall Street Journal in an interview earlier this week, Dell Greater China President Amit Midha said a tablet device with 7-inch screen will soon join its smaller sibling, the Dell Streak, in stores.

"We'll be launching very, very soon -- within the next few weeks," Midha said in a WSJ report on Thursday.

Last week, Dell CEO Michael Dell showed off the new tablet device at the Oracle Open World event at San Francisco and said the new device will be more powerful than the Streak, a tablet device that runs on Android and doubles as a smartphone. The new 7-inch tablet will be slightly larger than the Streak's 5-inch screen.

However, Dell didn't mention the tablet's price, name, shipping date, or other technical specifications. It will have a similar design to the Streak but is expected to come with a more powerful dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. The Streak runs on Qualcomm's Snapdragon 1GHz processor. Reports from tech blogs say the new device will also sport 4GB of RAM, 4GB of flash memory (upgradable to 32GB with an SDHC memory card slot), a 1.3-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a built-in GPS receiver.

But most importantly, the device is expected to come loaded with Google's Android 2.2, unlike the Streak, which originally shipped with Android 1.6.

But Dell apparently isn't happy with just the 7-inch device and is also planning to launch a 10-inch screen tablet that it hopes will give the 9-7-inch iPad a run for its money. Midha didn't mention whether the 10-inch tablet will run on Android but said his company plans to offer several products that will feature Microsoft's Windows OS as well as Google's energy-saving Chrome OS. The 10-inch device, however, isn't expected to launch until next year.

Apple has sold more than 3.5 million iPads since its April launch, and Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said he expects the company to ship a massive 21 million units in 2011. It's no wonder Apple's rivals are burning the midnight oil to emulate the iPad's success and that technology majors including Toshiba, Archos, and Hewlett-Packard have begun selling or announcing their intention to develop iPad-like devices. For instance, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) launched a tablet device, called the PlayBook, earlier this week, while consumer-electronics giant Samsung said it plans to launch the Galaxy Tab, a tablet device that will run on Android 2.2 and a sport 7-inch screen, in October.

Dell joined the tablet race when it launched the Streak in August. That device includes a 5-megapixel front-facing camera, a rear-facing VGA camera for video calls, 3G phone capabilities, and expandable memory with an SD memory card slot -- all features that many wish the iPad had.

However, it has received a lukewarm response, mainly because of its antiquated operating system (Android 1.6) and its price ($299 with a two year AT&T contract or $549 without). Critics also say it's too big to use as a smartphone and too small to use as a computer.

Shares of Round Rock, Texas-based Dell closed up 0.52% to $13.04 on Friday.


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