TV-Maker Sharp Preps for Tablet Computer Launch

Sharp, best known for its line of televisions and most recently, its TV ad campaign with Star Treks George Takei is getting into the tablet computer business.

Sharp announced plans this week to unveil a pair of e-readers that will also have Internet access and play different types of media. One will be a 5.5-inch slate and the other will be almost double that size 10.8 inches. Theyll likely launch first in Japan, but come to the U.S. soon thereafter in a partnership with Verizon for built-in 3G. Expect them to be available in the Japanese market by the end of the year. Theres been speculation that Verizon would have a new 10-inch tablet sometime this fall, but no word yet if thats the one from Sharp.

Sharp is joining a growing, competitive field in the tablet market, which will soon feature not only Apple, but HP, Research in Motion, Google and more technology heavyweights. Sharp can be optimistic about the future of its tablets, at least in its native land; early sales of the iPad have been very good in Japan, even though consumers there often shy away from American products if there is a locally produced alternative.

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