After delays caused by component shortages (and in some cases ODMs apparently putting in the wrong components and assuming Toshiba wouldn't notice), the 7-inch Journ.E Touch tablet is on sale at last.

It's half the price of the iPad says Alan Thompson, the president of Toshiba Europe, and "the things the iPad doesn't do, we do – we're quite comfortable that the product is as good or better than [the iPad] in functions and it has better price performance in the usage model."

That's using the Journ.E Touch around the house for web browsing, ebooks and entertainment rather than taking it out and about, although Toshiba claims 3.5 hours of battery life using Wi-Fi or 6 hours watching video without a connection.

"You might be watching something while the family finishes a film you've already seen," suggested Thompson; "and I'm not suggesting a man would be checking the football results…"

Huge market?

When we asked how big the market for tablets will be, Thompson joked "I was wondering about that till Apple announced its iPad! When we originally launched this - maybe prematurely - people said 'is this touch product going to catch on?'; Apple comes out with the iPad and they're saying everyone should have one of these."

Specifically, the advantages are supporting Flash (Flash Lite, at least), letting you expand the memory with up to a 32GB SD card or a USB stick, connecting directly via HDMI and playing media wirelessly on DLNA-compatible devices (like Toshiba's new Windows 7-certified REGZA TVs).

You can play a video that's on the Journ.E Touch on your TV – or use it to control playing content from any PC on your network.

Journ.e touch

MEDIA CONTROLLER: The Journ.E Touch media controller software has the same interface as the similar PC software; drag and drop content to the TV you want to watch it on

That's using the same simple interface that general manager Marco Perinosays will be common across Toshiba products: "our camcorders, our external hard drives, our multimedia hard drives as well as our tablets and many other products to come will have the same graphical user interface, to let people easily understand how to operate them."

Thompson revealed that Toshiba designed this interface in collaboration with Microsoft after brainstorming Microsoft's new mantra of 'three screens plus cloud' with Steve Ballmer – although he commented that "life moves on" and Toshiba now refers to its approach as multi-screen.

While Perino promised only more features and screen sizes in future Journ.E Touch models, Thompson– while cautioning that it's not his job to speculate about future products – predicted that the hinted at a thinner, sleeker 10-inch model with a capacitive multitouch tablet (and a higher price).

Capacitive rather than resistive

"It will not be a surprise to anyone that it will be faster, better, have lots more cool features and lots more content," he said Next to an iPad, the Journ.E Touch looks much more portable (though less stylish), but the smaller screen does show much less of a web page.

"If you were to advance the theory that 7-inch might not be a choice for a follow up, I would not disagree," Thompson told TechRadar; " the upper limit of probability is around 10-inch – once you get above that it gets unwieldy."

Instead of the current resistive screen he expects new tablets to have capacitive screens; "It's our belief the direction is the multitouch; it's justwhat people are used to.There's pluses and minuses but people are getting used to the multitouch. They can get to where they want to get to faster; it's more intuitive, some people would say."

He expects that the original 7-inch Journ.E Touch could stay on the market for some years as the low-cost option as a "perfectly good entry level product" but said the look would also change. "I think any future version would be much thinner.

People might want it to be a little bit more sexy, to be in tune with other devices. It will automatically be more expensive; you can't avoid cost. You have to use more clever positioning of the battery to get the thickness down."

When we asked about Reuters reports that Toshiba would launch tablets running Windows 7 and Android later this year, general manager for products, strategy and development Thomas Teckentrup pointed out that this year is the 25th anniversary of Toshiba's notebook business and the company can hardly let it pass without bringing out some appropriately innovative design. Watch this space…

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