A man wipes the logo of the Dell IT firm at the CeBIT exhibition centre in Hannover February 28, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Thomas Peter

(Reuters) - Dell Inc said its Streak tablet computer can double as a mobile phone and will have a front-facing camera for videoconferencing -- features it hopes will help the new gadget compete against Apple Inc's iPad.

TECHNOLOGY | MEDIA

The five-inch tablet will debut in Britain next month through mobile carrier O2, a unit of Spain's Telefonica, and Carphone Warehouse. Dell has yet to announce pricing for the Streak, which it said will appear in the United States sometime during the summer.

The company formally unveiled the Streak on Tuesday, after Chief Executive Michael Dell gave the tech world a glimpse of the tablet at a conference two weeks ago in San Francisco.

Dell will become the first major electronics maker to take on the 9.7-inch iPad with a device that runs on Google Inc's Android operating system, more commonly found on smartphones.

"It's portable and mobile. You can put it in your pocket," said IDC analyst Will Stofega, who has tried out the device. "It is interesting and infinitely usable."

Android is gaining ground on the iPhone in the smartphone market, but it is not yet clear whether Google and Dell will be able to take on Apple in the tablet market.

"Can Dell sell millions of these? That's a tall order. There is certainly the potential. If it is priced right and if the thing sort of does what it's supposed to," Stofega said.

The Streak, which will have a slot for external memory cards, is part of Dell's plan to expand sales of mobile devices to help boost revenue after it has slipped from being the world's largest PC maker to No. 3 by volume.

Forrester analyst Charles Golvin said he was skeptical that Dell could catch up with the iPad in one key area.

"Dell's entry into the phone/tablet market is marked by some nice hardware, but Dell still lacks the one element that will matter most in differentiating itself in the flood of Android devices, and that's skill in software," he said.

More than 200,000 software applications work with both the iPhone and the iPad, which was launched in the U.S. in April and goes on sale internationally on Friday.

Stephen Felice, who runs Dell's consumer, small and medium business divisions, told the ReutersGlobal Technology Summit in San Francisco, last week that the Streak would be aimed at consumers but that the PC maker's goal is to eventually build tablets for large corporations.

(Reporting by Jim Finkle; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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