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I think you've answered your own question on this one. I did a little research and don't see any easier solution than just creating the report and conditionally displaying one or the other.
Come back and update the thread if you find a different solution. I'd be interested to see if there's a better solution out there.
Marc - Thanks for logging the enhancement request. Couple of observations
1. The Copy Region wizard allows us to copy a tabular form region (along with its associated processes and buttons) but running the page raises errors since APEX only allows one tabular form per page. Perhaps the Copy Region wizard should check for this
2. Most tabular form regions are customized after the wizard creates them. Column headings are changed, display types, number/date formats, column links, etc. Re-doing all this to create a copy of the tabular form region as a classic report region is a bit of a chore. Maybe you can think of a easier way to do this in 5.0. Really all that needs to happen is change the Display As for all the tabular form INPUT fields to Display as Text and preserve all other customizations.
Thanks for your comments, I agree that the copy region wizard should not allow copying a tabular form to a page that already has a tabular form defined (or to the current page). And for 5.0 - if this makes it in - we certainly don't intend to use a classic report region as the read-only version of a tabular form (I suggested this only as a temporary solution for 4.x). Tabular forms and reports use the same engine anyway, so we would simply render all editable fields as display-only - as you suggested. And we probably should also disable the associated buttons.