Dell shows off prototype of slate computer

The company is experimenting with different screen sizes

Dell plans to release a handheld device with a slightly larger screen than its current smartphone, the Mini 3i, company executives confirmed Thursday.

Dell executives showed off a working prototype of the device -- which has a 5-inch screen, a removable battery, built-in camera, and runs Google's Android OS -- during a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show. The company is experimenting with several different screen sizes, said Michael Tatelman, vice president of sales and marketing in Dell's global consumer group.

"We have a few of these things in the lab," Tatelman said, declining to say when the device will be released or what the final, commercial product will look like. He declined to discuss technical details of the prototype.

Dell released its first smartphone last year and the company is betting on growing consumer demand for smaller, mobile devices that can connect to the Internet.

"There's been a tremendous amount of convergence into smaller and smaller screen sizes," Tatelman said, adding that users expect these types of devices to remain connected to the Internet at all times.

But smaller screens have their limitations. The advantage of a 5-inch screen over smaller smartphone screens is that users can more easily view Web pages or watch movies, Tatelman said.

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Sumner Lemon

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