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Can Asia's tech companies take a bite out of Apple iPad market?

  • Computex in Taipei, Taiwan, is Asia's biggest computer and ICT trade show
  • Asian technology companies are launching new tablet computers here
  • They hope their devices will take a bite out of Apple's iPad market

Taipei, Taiwan (CNN) -- The tablet computer market is about to get a whole lot more crowded.

Apple's iPad had gobbled up 75% of the market for the portable devices at the end of last year, according to the manufacturer. But now computer makers and software manufacturers in Asia are scrambling to take a bigger bite out of the California technology giant's hold on the market.

At Computex, Asia's biggest computer and communications technology trade show, held in Taipei, companies unveiled products that they hope could diminish Apple's dominance of the sector, even if they don't prove to be an "iPad killer."

Apple's iPad burst onto the scene in April 2010 amid massive buzz and, according to the company, sold 3 million units in 80 days.

Manufacturers are banking on huge growth in the field of tablets -- which bridge the gap between smartphones and laptops. The evolving market for the devices is predicted to grow by around 400% over the next four years, according to the Taiwanese Market Intelligence & Consulting Institute.

It predicts that 160 million devices a year will be sold in 2015.

Among the most eye-catching devices hoping to make an impact is the Asus Padfone, and its name shouldn't leave anyone in doubt as to what it is.

The tablet has a 10.1-inch screen. Its back hides a discreet hatch for an accompanying smart phone. Docking the smart phone into the tablet instantly transfers the phone's functions to the tablet, including media and all phone functions.

Running the latest Android operating system, the tablet is equipped with built-in USB drive, and Asus says it can be used for video conferencing.

While it's a step short of the "one device to rule them all," it adds a more rudimentary approach to "convergence." Asus expects to ship the Padfone by the end of the year. As far as the price, the company would only comment that the Padfone would be cheaper to buy than a separate smart phone and tablet.

Another new entry from Asus is the EeePad Slider, a device with a 10.1-inch screen and a slide-out keyboard.

Samsung and Apple -- the two best-selling tablet makers -- were conspicuous in their absence from the show, while other manufacturers are using it to launch numerous devices..

Viewsonic debuted five new tablet models and has entered the world of smartphones with two models, further blurring the boundaries between mobile devices. Its Viewpad series of tablets offers 7- and 10-inch devices running Google's Android Honeycomb operating system.

Acer, Taiwan's other big computer technology company, presented two new tablets, set to hit the shelves in the Asia Pacific region toward the end of the year.

By contrast, new netbooks and laptop offerings are thin at the show, with Intel in partnership with Asus trying to recast the devices as "Ultrabooks."

Making a play for more portability, and created with an eye on those who are more design-conscious -- or perhaps those who want a Macbook Air with Windows -- is the ultrathin Asus UX21. Constructed in brushed aluminum, it is only 3 millimeters thick at its thinnest point.

A cross between the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and a trade convention, Computex is expected to generate $25 billion worth of orders over four days.


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