Apple isn't the only company looking to ignite the portable computing market with the launch of a new tablet based portable computer.

Freescale Semiconductor aims to bridge the gap between smartphones and netbook computers with the launch a range of 7-inch designs at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which starts on Thursday 7th January.

Henri Richard, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Freescale, called a smartbook tablet the "missing link" between PCs and smartphones. "The PC has been stale in terms of its ability to innovate. Smartphones have been making progress ... but they have limitations."

"We’re going to see an explosion in the next couple of years of these new type of devices and that’s going to change the PC landscape," Richard added.

These devices are commonly known as smartbooks, however, SmartBook AG has claimed a registered trademark on the term Smartbook for use in computers and laptops, and has asked Macworld to stop referring to other devices as smartbooks. Whatever the device that bridges the gap between netbook and smartphone ends up being called, Freescale hopes to attract partners by showcasing the device at CES this week.

The Freecom tablet will run on the low-power ARM-based processor and should be priced at less than $200 (around £123). Intel's popular Atom processor currently dominates the netbook market.

The device will be based around Google's Android or Linux operating systems, with room for Wi-Fi and 3G capability, along with extended battery life up to 12 hours. Measuring 200cm by 128cm by 14.9cm, the Freescale device weighs less than two pounds.