There seems to be a general assumption that Tau tech is superior to Imperial tech, and to me this seems wrong. Granted the Tau are actually progressing with their tech at a faster rate than the imperium (which seems to get worse in some areas) but nonetheless I find it hard to credit the Tau with technology which is better than its imperial equivalent. To begin with, I'm going to go for the common things which the Tau are assumed to have mastered, and please feel free to argue/discuss, especially other examples of imperial/tau technological differences.

Plasma weaponry

- this is an area which the Tau excel, and at first glance they seem to have a far better grasp of such equipment than the Imperium. There are two obvious counters to this. The first is that Imperial plasma technology is more powerful - this implies that the Imperium could produce weaponry with the same affects 9and less lethal side affects) as the Tau, but choose not to. Pure speculation, but I expect this is because the Imperium sees plasma as an anti-heavy infantry weaponry and 'juice it up' to ensure its potency against all forms of armour - the odd accidental deaths as a result mean nothing to the Imperium, who can call upon legions of soldiers to replace those occassional casulaties.

The Imperium also has examples of heavy plasma weaponry, which as far as I know the Tau don't have. I'm not only talking about standard plasma cannon, but also those mounted on battletanks and even on starships. The Imperium is perfectly capable of producing plasma weaponry large enough to mount on a titan, something the Tau cannot (to my knowledge) achieve. The Imperium also uses plasma as an energy source, and can create plasma grenades and other applications of plasma technology

Although plasma weaponry seems to be rarer in the Imperium, this to me suggests more to do with cost than anything else. The Imperium could probably equip every guardsman with a plasma rifle, carapace armour and assorted hi-tech kit, but the fact is they have billions upon billions of guardsmen and they don't need to give them all plasma weaponry, not when it is cheap and efficient to give them easily produced las weapons and back them up with heavier equipment to deal with bigger threats. The Space Marines have an arguably better weapon in the bolter, with its specialisation for assault and close range combat, and they too don't all need to lug around plasma we\ponry.

Battlesuits

- another area in which the Imperium seems to have no counters. The two biggest detractors are first that the Imperium has perfected jump pack technology in assault marines (although not on the same scale) and also in grav chutes and other 'deep strike' equipment.

Terminator armour is arguably much better than battlesuits in terms oif personal protection, with the added bonuses of being smaller (and therefore much better for ship-to-ship and tunnel fighting), useful in assault, and being able to make use of teleportation technology to appear in the heart of the enemy defences unexpectedly.

The Imperium also makes use of sentinels and dreadnoughts which can counter the tau walkers well, and although not created for the same types of combat are good examples of perfected walker technology.

Grav tanks

- personally I don't think the tau actually have true grav tanks, but rather use V/STOL technology on a limited scale. Nonetheless, the Imperium can produce the faster and more manouverable landspeeder, and although they do not have heavier examples of this form of technology, its questionable as to whether they need or want it, given its expense, need for high maintenance and the fact that it is outclassed both by fliers ad conventional battletanks (except in terms of speed as far as tanks are concerned). All Imperial cehicles have the immense advantages of durability, rugability and the ability to make use of local materials for fuel - which means that even when tau tech may seem better, in a protracted campaign the imperial tech is more practical and requires less technical support and dedicated facilities.

Space ship technology

- the Tau haven't really made many in roads here, and in some areas (notably warp) they are very much beginners. Nonetheless, the Imperium is capable of producing ships that are faster (SM ships) more powerful (the largest Imperial battleships) and has perfected its fleet as a single entity. Whether the Tau manage to catch up in this area remains to be seen, but the very best Imperial ship designs incorporate weapon systems such as nova cannon and lance turrets which have incredible range and killing power which the Tau can't compete with. Even on the subject of ordnance, the Imperium can produce torpedoes making use of such tech as vortex warheads and psychically guided weaponry.

Areas where the Tau don't have a look in

- personal power fields
- teleportation
- bioengneering
- terra forming
- vortex weaponry
- laser weaponry
- titans & mind impulse tech
- servitors (arguably a form of bio engineering, but suitably different)
- exterminatus/germ warfare
- navigation/warp travel
- astropathic communication
- other psychic uses (astronomicon, battlefield psychers, emperor's tarot)


If anybody can add/refute anything, please do. i do accept that the Tau are advancing fast, but I also thinkt hey have a long way to go before they surpass the imperium in technology. Opinions?