Before the iPad and before the Slate, the most exciting touchy tablety thing in our lives was Toshiba's JournE multimedia tablet. Now that the Japanese compu-maker has seen what the competition has on offer, it's proudly proclaimed itself back in the running with an entire family of slate devices it's planning to introduce near the end of 2010 or in early 2011. "It has proved to be a mistake to underestimate these new categories" is the word from Toshiba's Jeff Barney, which indicates that not even he sees that much potential in the form factor, but his company is pushing ahead with its plans for fear of being left behind. Also quoted in the Fortune piece is ASUS' inimitable Jonney Shih, who makes sure to remind us that without multitasking, Flash support, or a webcam for videoconferencing, the iPad leaves plenty of room for devices richer in features to grab market share. All we know for certain is that the major players are falling in line to make 2010 truly the year of tablet -- whether or not consumers will place their stamp of approval on this vendor-driven craze, though, remains to be seen.

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Toshiba will have its own family of slates by this time next year