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Analyst predicts as many as 50 new tablet computers at CES

Next week’s 2011 International CES will be ground zero for the latest designs in tablet computers. Brian Marshall, an analyst with Gleacher & Co., expects as many as 50 companies to have their potential rivals to Apple’s iPad on display at the show.

A race to respond to Apple Inc.’s hit iPad gadget enters a new phase next week, as a host of companies use a Las Vegas trade show to talk up a broad array of tablet-style devices.

Companies expected to introduce touchscreen tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show include big names such as Motorola Inc., Dell Inc. and Acer Inc., as well as smaller manufacturers. Trying to stand apart, the devices will offer displays of various sizes and different operating systems. Some will have two built-in cameras; others none.

The stakes are high for many players—particularly Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp., kingpins of PC technology that have so far struggled to match the momentum in tablets of Google Inc.’s Android software and chip designs from ARM Holdings PLC.

Which attributes may win favor with large numbers of customers—or whether any tablet without an Apple logo can thrive—remain open questions.

“It’s a very new and emerging market,” said Nicholas DiCarlo, who manages new products for a U.S. unit of Samsung Electronics Co. “It’s way early to call any judgments.”

Samsung is one of few companies to make measurable headway against Apple. The South Korean company has shipped more than one million of its Galaxy Tabs, which were launched in the U.S. in November. The device costs as little as $400 in the U.S. with a two-year wireless data plan, or about $600 without a contract. IPads that connect to cellular networks start at $629.

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