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Dell has distanced itself from claims apparently made by one its own executives that it is developing a handheld games console to challenge Sony's PlayStation Portable and Nintendo's DS.

In a statement sent to Reg Hardware, the PC giant said simply: "Dell is constantly evaluating new technologies. However, we have no plans to launch a Gaming handheld at this time."

Last week, we reported on comments attributed to Abizar Vakharia, Dell's head of gaming products, who, when questioned about handheld gaming, said: "You know, that's definitely one that's on the radar screen, but we have no plans to talk about anything today."

The two statements - and Dell didn't claim Vakharia was mis-quoted - are not mutually exclusive. Vakharia says there are no plans to talk about at the present moment, which is pretty much what the second statement says.

The question is, how far has Dell's evaluation of such a product progressed?

Producing such a product isn't as crazy as it might at first seem, especially if Dell has in mind a UMPC-style unit capable of playing regular PC-oriented games. That means the company doesn't have to worry about encouraging software development for its platform and there's a ready supply of titles out there for punters to buy. It also allows Dell to tackle a new market using relatively standard hardware.

As Dell's recent results show, it needs to look for new markets that offer better margins than its traditional box-shifting approach. Mobile gaming could provided just such an opportunity.

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