Two Japanese personal computer makers have added their names to the list of companies supporting Microsoft Corp.’s Tablet PC system.

Toshiba Corp. and Sotec Co. Ltd., both major PC makers in Japan, said Wednesday at a Microsoft-organized event that they plan to support the system and Sotec unveiled prototype hardware running Windows XP Tablet Edition.

Sotec’s prototype, named the Afina Tablet, looks like a conventional notebook PC but features a swivelling LCD which can fold around on itself to enable the machine to take a tablet-like form-a design which has been seen on some other recent devices such as Sony Corp.’s latest Clie PDA (personal digital assistant).

In addition, a prototype from NEC Corp., which takes the classic tablet PC form, was on display and Fujitsu Ltd. and Hewlett-Packard Co. also turned out to announce support for Tablet PC in the Japan market.

The five companies said they plan to begin selling Tablet PCs from the late third quarter or fourth quarter of this year.

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