CES: "The Year of the Tablet PC"

HP's SlateWhat could potentially throw e-readers a curveball? The evolution of tablet PCs. Tablet PCs like the Notion Ink Adam Smartpad blurs the lines between e-readers and PCs by essentially acting like an e-reader with a web browser attachment.  With Apple potentially partnering with book publishers, its anticipated Tablet (along with the other tablets) could cross over and become a threat to the e-reader market.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demoed several different new tablets in his keynote address at CES. Tablet PCs are not a new concept to 2010 since several versions of the tablet concept have been released in years past. However, with CES being dubbed "The Year of the Tablet PC" there certainly was a renewed interest in these items.

What sparked it? According to Ballmer, there is more consumer demand for it now. He says that people are loking for something "as portable as a phone but as powerful as a PC." Other than potential consumer demand, what other factor could have generated the tablet buzz? Apple. The anticipated-but-not-confirmed release of the iSlate, Apple's expected Mac version of a tablet. Learning from the iPhone launch, other companies decided that it was important to showcase their tablets before they could be labeled as nothing more than "second best" to Apple's.

Several tablets were showcased but a few really stole the show. HP's multi-touch Slate tablet garnered a lot of attention

Lenovo's U1 hybrid tablet

after Ballmer demoed it during his keynote presentation. Lenovo arrived with a notebook that could literally take its own head off. The Lenovo IdeaPad is a hybrid notebook with a touchscreen and swivel head to act as a tablet that also can deatch its screen and transform into an 11" tablet.