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Dell and Intel are collaborating on a touchscreen tablet-cum-e-reader that’s inked for release early next year. So says a “well-connected industry executive” who has blathered to Wired.

The magazine's exec is not well connected enough to know much about the spec, but reveals the device is a subscription-based e-reader that displays digital newspapers, magazines and "other media". In other words, the hardware could be "free", if you sign up to expensive enough subs.

The Dell tablet will no doubt go head-to-head with Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader. Amazon’s latest Kindle – the recently launched DX, currently only available in North America - costs a pricey $489 (£288/€339). A subs-driven rival may enable Dell to make a splash in this rapidly emerging market.

Given that the well connected industry executive describes Dell’s rumoured device as a tablet, the gadget may also include a selection of multimedia functions, such as video display.

If so, then the device would occupy some of the space allotted to Apple’s long-rumoured iTablet – whenever Steve Jobs gets around to confirming its existence. This may or may not be September. ®

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