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Android tablet preview

Wondering what tablets are in store for CES 2011? CNET's Donald Bell rounds up a list of tablets he expects to see.

ViewSonic Android tablet.
If 2011 will be a breakout year for Android tablets, CES will serve as the starting gate. ViewSonic

When my boss asks me what tablets I expect to see at CES, I have to laugh a little. It's a nervous laugh. Maybe I'm overreacting, but with the iPad's breakout success this year, I'm expecting a tidal wave of tablets at CES 2011.

There are the obvious elephants in the room. RIM will surely be making a fuss about its PlayBook. HP should have a WebOS tablet to show off (or risk humiliation, at this point). And as for Microsoft, if we don't see a branded tablet we should at least see a convincing strategy for how the company plans to compete.

But it's not the big guys that are giving me heartburn heading into CES--it's the rapidly expanding tribe of Android tablet manufacturers. With Google's tablet-optimized version of Android (aka, Honeycomb) slated for next year, any manufacturer not already invested in brewing its own tablet OS will be throwing its hat in the Android ring.

Below is a listing of all the manufacturers I fully expect will have Android tablets on display at CES 2011. Each link points to the rumored or announced tablet(s) in question.

Noticeably absent from this list: Sony. I know it's supposed to have its PSP Android phone in the works, but I haven't been able to get a pulse on tablet plans. As a company, Sony is notoriously bad at keeping a lid on products, so I would be surprised if a fully baked Android tablet dropped out of thin air at CES. Still, as a big, capable manufacturer, it's got to be working on something, right?

Of course, this list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the tablets (Android and otherwise) we'll see at CES. I'm going in assuming everyone's got a tablet to show. Whether it's Philips or Sony, or the guy at the churro cart.

If I had to bet on a standout device early on, it would be the Motorola tablet Google's Andy Rubin showed off a few weeks back. It stands to reason that Google has given this tablet an early blessing for a reason, and Motorola's PR machine is already putting some money behind advertising.

The only thing I really know for sure: I'm in for a busy CES.