Dell officials at the Computex show in Taiwan are showing off a Windows 8 laptop that can be converted into a tablet with the flip of its 11.6-inch screen.
The Intel-powered XPS 11 Ultrabook has generated a lot of interest on the first day of the show, which is Asia's largest tech event every year. The device comes as Dell continues to try to reduce its reliance on the PC business by transforming itself more into an enterprise IT solutions provider.
In addition, shareholders are scheduled to vote July 18 on the proposed $24.4 billion leveraged buyout by CEO Michael Dell and private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, who would then take the company private. However, even if the controversial buyout is approved, Michael Dell has said the company would continue investing in PCs and tablets. The company already offers a tablet and a couple of hybrid systems.
Dell officials have boasted about the thin and light aspects of the XPS 11, which will go on sale in the fourth quarter. The system is less than 15 millimeters tall, weighs about 2.5 pounds and has a high-resolution 2,560-by-1,440 display.
The goal of the system is to provide business users and consumers with a device that gives them the freedom and features of a tablet with the productivity capabilities of a notebook, according to Kirk Schell, vice president of computing products at Dell.
"We believe we have the best two-in-one device, and that is a very cool category for people who want to do consumption but also do real work," Schell told Forbes.com.
Dell's XPS 11 is similar to rival Lenovo's Yoga, a system first introduced last year that also can convert from a notebook to a tablet by flipping back the 13.3-inch screen.
Sales of PCs worldwide have taken a tumble over the past few years as business users and consumers have opted instead for tablets and smartphones. IDC analysts late last month revised their projections for 2013, forecasting a 7.8 percent decline in PC shipments this year, due in large part to the rising popularity of tablets. More tablets will be shipped this year than portable PCs, and by 2015, tablet shipments will outpace all PCs, the analyst said.
"What started as a sign of tough economic times has quickly shifted to a change in the global computing paradigm, with mobile being the primary benefactor," Ryan Reith, program manager for IDC's Mobility Trackers, said in a statement. "Tablets surpassing portables in 2013, and total PCs in 2015, marks a significant change in consumer attitudes about compute devices and the applications and ecosystems that power them.”
PCs will continue to play an important role, especially among business users, but "for many consumers, a tablet is a simple and elegant solution for core use cases that were previously addressed by the PC," Reith said.
Dell, the world's third-largest PC maker behind Hewlett-Packard and Lenovo, has been hard hit by the PC downturn. In the first quarter, the company saw a 2 percent drop in overall revenues and a 51 percent reduction in profitability, while its PC client business saw operating income fall 65 percent on sales that tumbled 9 percent.
Dell and other OEMs have looked to new form factors—such as Ultrabooks, convertibles and hybrids—to offset traditional PC sales and give users systems that address all their demands. In addition, Schell told the Wall Street Journal that even though the company is focusing on Microsoft's Windows, officials also are considering other operating systems.
However, while the company is aggressively growing its tablet and hybrid portfolios, executives have said there are no plans for a Dell-based smartphone.