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Lenovo to launch Android tablet by year's end

With the Android-based "LePad," the Chinese company becomes just the latest vendor readying a pure tablet device.

Lenovo is launching its own tablet to debut in China by the end of this year.

Dubbed "LePad," the tablet will run Google's Android operating system, according to comments made by Liu Jun, senior vice president for Lenovo Group, as reported by and other sources. Details are few so far, and there's no word from Lenovo or other sources on whether the tablet will venture abroad after its initial debut in China.

Tablets launched in the U.S. and many other countries face competition from Apple's popular iPad. But China is one country where so far the iPad is a no-show. Earlier this month, Lenovo Chairman Liu Chuanzhi said that Apple CEO Steve Jobs is missing out on a big opportunity by not selling its tablet in China. Chuanzhi blamed Apple's lack of presence in the country on the fact that Jobs has "such a bad temper and doesn't care about China," and added that, "if Apple were to spend the same effort on the Chinese consumer as we do, we would be in trouble."

News of LePad follows Lenovo's entry into the smartphone market with its LePhone device, which hit China this past April.

This won't be Lenovo's first attempt at a tablet-like device. The company demoed its "netvertible" U1 Hybrid and Skylight smartbook at CES in January. But the custom-built flavors of Linux that both devices ran reportedly hampered their performance and appeal. Lenovo has since taken both back to the labs to outfit them with the more robust and user friendly Android OS.

Lenovo joins a growing list of other vendors eager to pounce on the tablet market with their own devices, most of them running Android.

Last month, Dell released its Streak Android tablet in the U.K. Archos has followed up on last year's Archos 5 Internet tablet with the larger but cheaper Archos 7 and 8 tablets. Cisco has even entered the mix with its Cius Android tablet geared more toward the business crowd than home consumers.

In the meantime, the iPad is set to grab even more customers as Apple's tablet is set to launch in nine more countries this Friday.