Use the width tags for the table and the first row of TD tags (or use CSS to set the width). 

Browsers can begin laying out the table immediately if you have that, otherwise they need to suck the whole table in and 'determine' that width.  There is also a CSS property for a fixed table which basically might be useful for that example, then tables render really fast (but it has some drawbacks, but you can look those up.... its been awhile).