can you check the logs ?, maybe there is an exception hiding over there (ex:NullPointerException).
Nope the logs are identicle for both implementations. I checked the HTML generated too and there's nothing different there either except for the value for the input field.
There is activity going back to the server because I get a Hibernate data access execuited either way (another issue quite frankly because that data access happens outside the tab panel and really shouldn't be execuiting since the tab switch is ajax).
Any other ideas?