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RIM PlayBook Demo Adds to Tablet Fever

RIM's PlayBook, which the company demoed Monday, kicks off another round of tablet fervor. Here's an update on likely iPad challengers.

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Research In Motion (RIMM) shares surged almost 8% to $55.66 Tuesday afternoon, continuing the rally that hit late Monday.

While the cause of the spike is most likely a combination of factors kicked off by a UBS analyst's speculation on M&A rumors, RIM's first PlayBook demo helped allay fears of a delay in its release. The company showed off the PlayBook for the first time on Monday.

RIM's co-CEO Mike Lazaridis brandished the tablet at

Adobe's

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MAX developer show in L.A., describing the PlayBook as small and very powerful. "We're providing a professional experience -- something that we're used to on our desktops and our laptops," he said. "We're not trying to dumb down the Internet for a small mobile device."

Obviously capitalizing on RIM's strong presence in corporate America,

the PlayBook is aimed at business users

and offers a 7-inch screen, smaller than the 9.7-inch screen on

Apple's

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iPad. RIM has also thrown its support behind Adobe's Flash technology -- unlike Apple -- and the PlayBook comes with Flash Player 10.1.

The PlayBook is expected to be available in the United States in early 2011 with rollouts in other international markets beginning in the second quarter of next year.Of course, the PlayBook faces competition from nearly every major computing giant -- once their products hit the market.

Here's an updated roundup of the PlayBook's expected competitors.

Dell's Windows 7 Tablet

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Expected Launch Date

: Early December 2010.

Hot on the heels of the Android-based

Streak mini-tablet

, Dell is preparing to launch the

Inspiron Duo

, the firm's first tablet running

Microsoft's

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Windows 7 operating system. The netbook/tablet hybrid will feature a 10-inch swivel screen and a dual-core

Intel

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Atom processor.

The tech giant has not yet disclosed a price for the Duo, but has described the device as a "mid-tier priced product."

HP Slate 500

Launched

: October 2010

Aimed primarily at business users

, HP's Slate 500 is another

Windows 7 device

. Slightly smaller than Apple's iPad, the tablet comes with an 8.9-inch touchscreen, and features a front VGA Webcam and 3-Megapixel camera on the back of the device.

Priced at $799, the Slate 500 is just the first of a number of new HP tablet offerings, some of which will run

Palm's

WebOS operating system.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Expected Launch Date

: Nov. 11 via

Verizon Wireless

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and Nov. 14 from

Sprint

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. Samsung says that the device will also be available from

AT&T

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and

T-Mobile

this fall.

With its 7-inch screen, the Galaxy Tab occupies the tablet hinterland between 5-inch devices like the Dell Streak and 10-inch offerings like the iPad. The Android-powered

tablet

features front- and back-facing cameras for video calling and a 1-gigahertz Samsung Hummingbird processor.

Cisco Cius

Expected Launch Date

: First quarter of 2011.

Cisco became the latest tech heavyweight to enter the tablet ring during the summer, when it

announced plans for its Cius business offering

. The Android-based device will combine high-definition voice and video with telepresence, a form of high-end videoconferencing.

The Cius will also offer both front-facing and rear-facing cameras, as well as the ability to produce, edit and share cloud-based content. The tablet supports Cisco's various communications products such as WebEx and Quad, a form of business collaboration technology. An optional docking station and speakerphone will also be offered.

iPad

Launched

: April 2010

The dominant force in the tablet market, Apple has sold around 7.5 million iPads since the device was

launched earlier this year

and analyst firm Piper Jaffray predicts that the tech giant could

sell a massive 21 million iPads in 2011.

With a significant lead on rivals, all signs are pointing to a big 2011 for the iPad.

Morgan Stanley

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, for example,

recently reported that Apple is ramping up iPad production.

Analyst firm Gleacher & Company also said that Apple is becoming

more efficient at getting iPads into the hands of consumers

, and adds that the tablet is not eating into other Apple product revenue.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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