While this columnist is admittedly upset that Mouse Computer named their latest product after my old college dorm room without attribution, it’s certainly very exciting to see an Android-based competitor for Apple’s “revolutionary” iPad coming out of Japan.

The LuvPad AD100 is a 10.1-inch tablet computer that will run on Google’s Android 2.2 mobile operating system (also known as Froyo). Featuring an LED-backlit multitouch display with a resolution of 1024 × 600, the LuvPad promises comfortable Web browsing and media consumption with a built-in speaker to complement the pretty visuals. Similar to the iPad, LuvPad attempts to put all your favorite media right in your hands.

And like any Android-based iPad challenger, the LuvPad boasts support for Adobe Flash media which, despite Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ best efforts, still exists in abundance on the Internet. Sporting the NVIDIA Tegra 250 chipset, the LuvPad is also poised to win over gamers too with its advanced 3-D graphics performance, again putting Mouse in direct competition with the iPad, which also excels in the gaming space.

The LuvPad weighs in at 760 grams, just a little heavier than both the Wi-Fi and 3G iPads that weigh 680 and 730 grams respectively. And while LuvPad is a tad heftier than the iPad, it comes with a lighter price tag at ¥39,800. Apple’s most affordable tablet is the 16 gigabyte Wi-Fi model, which starts at ¥48,800 with prices increasing as you add extra storage or 3G functionality.

Note that the LuvPad sacrifices some storage to reach that price point with just 8 gigabytes of flash memory, but a built-in microSD card slot will help you to bump that up a little. Mouse does trump the iPad with 512 megabytes of RAM (compared to 256 megabytes) though a future iPad upgrade will certainly match that. We try to avoid playing the Apple speculation game, so we’ll defer to ZDnet who anticipates that a second-generation iPad might be coming in early 2011.

For now, LuvPad is Wi-Fi only with no 3G option, so unfortunately users won’t be taking this tablet online while out and about. Nonetheless, as a tablet device for around the home or in a cafe, the LuvPad is an attractive and affordable option.

Mouse is not the only computer manufacturer to roll out a tablet PC this month. At the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, Dell unveiled a tablet-laptop hybrid Inspiron Duo that runs Windows 7 Home Premium. Other notable iPad challengers to look forward to include Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and the Toshiba Folio 100. Both of these Android 2.2 devices were unveiled at the IFA exhibition in Berlin. Consumers can expect even more Android tablet challengers moving into the new year, with South Korean company LG Electronics rolling out a tablet under the Optimus line, as well as Taiwanese maker Acer, which looks to be among the first to launch Android 3.0 devices in Q1 2011.

It’s unlikely that any of these iPad challengers is going to make a superior tablet than the folks in Cupertino anytime soon, particularly given the strength of the iTunes as a media distribution platform. But Mouse Computer and companies like them will definitely appeal to a certain segment of consumers by undercutting Apple with a more enticing price tag.

Mouse’s LuvPad is set to go on sale in Japan this month. For gadget fans overseas this new tablet can also be purchased on GeekStuff4u.com, although at the slightly higher price of ¥48,250 (or about $580).

Regardless of their success against the iPad, the onslaught of Android tablets means a big win for consumers who are about to see more quality choices in the tablet market than ever before.

Rick Martin is a contributor to Gizmag. Read more of his work at 1rick.com

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