At CEATEC 2010 in Chiba, Japan this past week, more than a few companies were showcasing tablet computers, due in no small part to the success of Apple's iPad. The most notable among them was the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which we managed to get our hands on back at IFA 2010 in Berlin.

While Samsung wasn't in attendance at CEATEC, the Galaxy Tab (as well as the Galaxy S phone) was attracting big crowds at the Docomo booth, the local carrier that will sell the device in November in Japan. Seen as the most credible competitor to the iPad, the Galaxy Tab is rolling-out in the U.S. and South Korea with Europe and other markets to follow.

Sharp made a slightly noisier push of the Android-based Galapagos pad prominently displayed at their CEATEC booth, along with the I0S3 Android phone that will be launched next month in cooperation with carrier KDDI. The Galapagos, which comes in two sizes, 10.8 and 5.5 inches, doesn't impress nearly as much as the Galaxy Tab, but it's the currently subject of a giant marketing blitz in Japan.

Our hands-on time with the Galapagos left us a little confused, as the interface was far from the most intuitive thing we've ever seen. It's mainly just an ebook reader, so users who approach it hoping for an iPad killer will be sorely disappointed. However, for Japanese users in search of a dedicated reader, it might suffice. But then again, so might a Kindle.

A Sharp representative was kind enough to walk us through most of the Galapagos' features, from the reader functions, to the web browsing capabilities, to the mini-games – all in all, it was pretty unremarkable.

A visit to the Fujitsu booth gave us a glimpse at that company's plans for a Windows tablet, although the demo unit was housed under glass with a static image displaying on its screen. It's hard to get excited about a Windows 7 Tablet, but we'll wait until we see it up close before making any judgments.

Unfortunately its too early to have any pricing details on most of these tablets, but they won't be able to go too high given that the base model iPad is always looming in the shadows, hovering around that US$500 mark.

Other tablet alternatives in Japan include the Toshiba Folio 100 and the NEC Lifebook, which were also on display at CEATEC, and the cleverly named Mouse LuvPad which is due hit the market this month.

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