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T-Day has arrived!

Tablet day is here.  

Each year at the start of September, there's a massive trade show in Berlin called IFA. (It stands for Internationale Funkausstellung - International Radio trade show) It's one of the biggest - and certainly amongst the most important - in the gadget calendar.

This is because gadget sales are very much greater around Christmas and anyone wanting to sell big at Christmas really has to get their goods to market by late October, which means showing them off to the trade at about this time of year.


You wait for the next proper tablet to come along (for about a year after the appearance of the Archos 5), then all of a sudden three show up at once.  Maybe even more than three.

This only actually happens if you’re in Berlin - at the Internationale Funkaustellung (The International Funky Stellar Stuff Show or IFA).  

The Samsung Galaxy Tab which is the one with the most hype.  It even appeared fleetingly on the BBC nine o’clock news.  It has a 7-inch touchscreen (measured diagonally) with capacitive technology and the latest Android 2.2 (Froyo) together with full access to the Android Market.  It’s due to be launched - in terms of being actually available in shops to buy - from October 2010.

Samsung Galaxy
Toshiba Folio

The Toshiba Folio 100.  This is a 10 inches diagonally with (reputedly) the fastest processor - NVIDIA's dual-core Tegra 250, but no access as yet to the full Android Market.  It also has a rather vaguer release quoted of “Q4 2010”, probably November.

The ViewSonic Viewpad 7.  This has a similar 10-inch screen, and the new operating system, but only a 600 MHz processor

Viewsonic Viewpad 7
Archos 70

The Archos 70 and 101.  These are the 7-inch and 10.1-inch offerings in Archos range.  The others are 4.3 inches and smaller so they're probably more appealing to those with very small pockets and handbags - and very acute eyesight to match.  In a change from the Archos 5, these two new larger slates have proper capacitive touchscreens.  But should we worry a little about the smallness of the company and its profile outside France? We compare Archos for size and clout with one of its rivals - Cambridge Sciences here.

So, isn’t that more than three?  Well the attrition rate for this kind of gadget between the announcement and the shop has been mind-blowing up to now.  But with the huge success of the Apple iPad and the amount of hype surrounding these announcements, at least three should be genuinely available by Christmas. (For all the latest slate updates, check out our guide and comparison chart here.)

Does this represent a sea change in the consumer IT market as whole?  Are we seeing Android releases equivalent to the first few PCs that appeared using the IBM’s standard physical architecture specification 30 years ago?  These new tablets are all lighter and more energy efficient than the smallest Windows netbook - none one of them contain Microsoft software or Intel processors. Watch this sARM Stock Historypace.

If our view is that this is a real tipping point, the long term investor might respond accordingly.  That would mean backing the tablet makers, like Samsung Electronics,Toshiba andArchos - and, of course, Arm Holdings, which designed the CPU chips contained in all these Android devices.

Perhaps the change is less positive for Microsoft and Intel whose PCs and laptops have reined supreme. But their slates, while they have been around for some years, have never really caught on as they have been prone to seeming heavy, hot and slow and have been plagued by short battery life.  Last week, Intel bought German wireless chip maker Infineon and may have been prowling around Arm, but the European competition authorities might take a rather dim view of these activities.






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