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Byline: The Nation.
Tablet computers come of age as iPad mania takes hold around the world
Yearning for an Internet-linked gadget bigger than a smart phone but smaller than a laptop merged with always-connected lifestyles to make tablet computing a defining trend for 2010.
The iPad launched in April by Apple became the must-have device of the year and has rivals intent on dethroning the culture-shifting California company before it can lock in the market the way iPods became the ruling MP3 players.
"Apple nailed it and made tablet computers a success," said research firm Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney. "There are going to be a lot of people trying to …