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HTC and other OEMs prepared to challenge the iSlate

The Apple tablet, whether you want to call it the iSlate, the iTablet, or "Betty," hasn't even been verified to exist at this point. However, that's not keeping other manufacturers from coming out with their own competition to the mythical device.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, which runs from Thursday, January 7th through Sunday, January 10th, several vendors may be showing devices to compete with an Apple design that hasn't even been leaked, cheesy specs notwithstanding.

Mobile handset heavyweight HTC, the same company that will debut the new Google Nexus One Android phone on January 5th, is expected to have a tablet ready to show at CES. HTC is an OEM, so it's not likely that a tablet will appear under the HTC label. Instead, traditional PC sellers such as ASUS, HP, and Dell will probably announce devices that have been designed and built by HTC or other OEMs.

HTC isn't the only company jumping into the tablet fray; Freescale Semiconductor will be showing a "tablet reference design" at CES as well. The Freescale device (at right) has a 7" display and is designed to take up about one-third the volume of a current netbook. Freescale's tablet will be shown running both Google Android OS and some variety of Linux, and is rumored to have "all day" battery life and instant-on functionality.

While the HTC and Freescale tablets are designed for sale by other companies, an Indian startup called Notion Ink will be showing a 10.1" touchscreen device at CES that they have designed and will build. Even Microsoft could get into the CES tablet action by having CEO Steve Ballmer demonstrate the Courier device.

The announcements are sure to place some price pressure on Apple: Freescale's design is intended for retail prices in the $200 range, much less than the $600 - $1,000 expected for Apple's device. Of course, Apple is all about the design, functionality, and user experience of their devices and software, and the capabilities of the tablet will need to show perceived value to potential customers. One thing is for sure -- tablets have sparked the imagination of the public and manufacturers, and we're going to hear a lot about them in the upcoming year.

[via Smarthouse, I4U]