Apple's iPad to soon face new rivals

RIM and other computer makers are close to releasing new tablet computers to challenge Apple's iPad.

Apple's iPad has inspired a flurry of competition, and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion is poised to intoduce a new tablet computer as soon as next week, some industry analysts say. Even Amazon, which may have lit the fuse on handheld electronic readers with Kindle, is rumored to have a tablet in the works, although ArsTechnica writer Jon Stokes says that's unlikely to be true.

According to a report in Technorati, all major computer makers have tablets in the workd. Some are already here, notably the Android-based Samsung Galaxy.

HP also has several tablets in the works, but Technorati writer Pablo Valerio says one based on webOS will be the one to watch.

"There are no official specs for the product, but the buzz is that it would be targeted at consumers, have a seven-inch display, Wi-Fi, two cameras and run an ARM Cortex processor at 1GHz," Valerio writes.

RIM's tablet (jokingly called the "BlackPad" by some) is set for release sometime in the fourth quarter of the year, reports the Wall Street Journal. Citing RIM insiders, the Journal reports that the device will feature a seven-inch touch screen, one or two built-in cameras, and Bluetooth and broadband connections. However, the insiders said, it will connect to a cellular network only through a BlackBerry smartphone.

The device will use a new operating system from QNX Software Systems, a company RIM recently acquired, the Journal reported.