The increasingly crowded market of tablets dominated by the iPAD has another strong competitor in the form of Lenovo’s LePad, which was launched in China on Monday at a Chinese-media only event.

They will begin selling it this week, despite the fact that hundred of factories in Japan were affected or destroyed by the massive 9.0 earthquake that struck less than a month ago. But Lenovo isn’t the only company affected by the dramatic seismic event; ZTE Corp, a Chinese maker of telecoms equipment reported the same issues.

“The LePad is the first major launch since the business group’s founding, we are confident in it and will continue to enrich its product line with better performing products and a richer selection of styles,” Lenovo said.

In addition to the iPAD, Lenovo’s LePad will have to compete against other tablets and gadgets from giants such as Dell, Samsung Electronics and BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion. In China, models which also feature WiFi will have a price tag of 3,499 yuan ($533) for the 16-gigabyte version, at least according to the company.

The LePad has a 10.1-inch (26 centimetre) colour screen and connects to the Internet using WiFi or 3G telecom.