Toshiba ships one of the first dual-core tablets

The Folio 100 tablet is designed to outperform the iPad

Toshiba on Thursday started shipping its Folio 100 tablet, which has a powerful dual-core processor and full high-definition graphics capabilities -- features designed to outperform Apple's iPad.

The tablet includes Nvidia's Tegra 2 processor, which includes a dual-core Arm processor running at 1GHz and a GeForce graphics core that is capable of playing full 1080p high-definition video. The iPad uses a chip package with a single-core Arm processor running at 1GHz and can show 720p video.

The Folio 100 is shipping in Europe in Wi-Fi and 3G versions. The price varies between $US560 and $742, depending on the country and model, said Bill Hunt, a Toshiba Europe spokesman, in an e-mail.

There is no date set for a U.S. launch, Hunt said. When the tablet was announced in September, Toshiba said it would first ship in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The Folio has a 10.1-inch multitouch display, which is slightly larger than the iPad's 9.7-inch screen. At 760 grams (1.67 pounds), the Folio 100 is heavier than the iPad, which weighs around 680 grams. The Folio provides seven hours of run time on a single battery charge, with 65 per cent of the time spent browsing the Internet, 10 per cent watching video and 25 per cent on standby. The iPad can provide about 10 hours of battery life.

The Folio runs Google's Android 2.2 OS and supports Flash. Users will be able to download applications, e-books and games through Toshiba Market Place.

Other features include a USB port, a 1.3-megapixel webcam and an HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) port for users to play high-definition video from the device on TVs.

The Folio joins a growing market led by the iPad, with Android tablets also hitting retail shelves. Samsung recently launched its Galaxy Tab, and Velocity Micro, ViewSonic, Stream TV and Archos will soon follow with Android tablets. Hewlett-Packard is already shipping a business tablet running Windows 7 and plans to release a consumer tablet next year with the WebOS mobile platform. Research In Motion has announced a tablet called PlayBook based on an OS it got from QNX, which the company recently purchased.

Analyst firm Gartner has said tablet shipments next year will reach 54.8 million, while IDC forecasts around 40 million.

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