While the Apple iPad might be among the first 'slate' style PCs to hit the mainstream, it's certainly not going to be the last - with processor manufacturer ARM predicting at least fifty other slates this year.

The comments by ARM's worldwide mobile computing ODM manager Roy Chen - as quoted over on ComputerWorld - suggest that the third quarter of the year will see "a lot more" slate-style touch-screen devices being launched by a variety of manufacturers, starting in China and going global.

According to Chen, the rush of iPad-style devices will begin "in the second quarter by [mobile] carriers," before hitting the mainstream as the PC retail sector gets in on the act.

With at least one iPad rival confirmed by a major manufacturer - the HP Slate, which runs Windows 7 and features the ability to play Flash content and run Air applications which is missing from Apple's latest and greatest - and a smaller 5" device expected from Dell under the name Mini 5, it certainly appears as though Chen might be right about 2010 being the year of the slate.

Interestingly, Nidia's Jen-Hsun Huang was recently interviewed by CNN and commented that his company's Tegra platform - while not making an appearance in the Apple iPad - will be the graphics processor of choice in "devices from everyone else," suggesting that the increased interest in slate-format devices could spell a profitable year for the company.

Are you getting excited by the slate form factor, or is it something that has been done better by traditional tablet PCs - which at least come with a physical keyboard for when you need to do a lot of text entry? Could the iPad's lack of Flash support spell its downfall? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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