Chinese ready to screw up Intel, Nvidia, Apple, Taiwan - Pic Mike Magee

Sources told TechEye that over a dozen hardware houses based in Shenzhen - just across the border from Hong Kong - are set to upset the applecart and every other vendor cart with a series of tablet launches very soon indeed.

The hardware houses, in a loose collaboration with a number of software vendors, will release ARM and Qualcomm based tablets over the next month with prices that will cause shock and horror to chip manufacturers, to Apple, to Taiwanese PC vendors and to the delight of us so called consumers everywhere.

The companies have somehow managed to cut down on their bill of materials (BOMs) so much that some will introduce pretty much fully featured tablets with ARM cores at a retail price of $100. Yeah, OK, it's true that these tablets will use Microsoft Win CE - wince - but at the price the machines are likely to attract quite a lot of the vendors.

True, a 7.1-inch screen might not be everybody's cup of tea, but some of the vendors are going to introduce much bigger screen sized tablets for not very much more than that, complete with capacitive displays, built in software that lets you gesture meaningfully at your device, and a collaborative App Store too.

The news may not affect Apple's entree into the tablet market with its iPad, but could well affect any future product plans Intel has, such is the chip giant's emphasis on MIDs, PIDs and the like.

Despite throwing billions of US dollars into developing Atom chips, as far as we are aware Intel has still not succeeded in winning any favours from handset makers, chary as they are of the Santa Clara company p0wning the marketplace.

The other Santa Clara company - Nvidia - is also likely to have its plans upset because it has poured R&D money into Mr Tegra - and even that is not enough to definitely woo anyone so far apart from Asustek. Asustek told us last week it would definitely show off a PC tablet based on Tegra at the Computex conference in June.

Most of the big PC ODMs are fighting shy of saying they will definitely introduce a PC based tablet, they've been here before. And many are secretly resentful of the success of so-called netbooks - the ASPs have bitten their Cleopatra margins quite badly.

Sub rosa, quite a few of these firms will be showing off these ever so cheap notebooks at the Hong Kong electronics show, this week.