If this year's CES is any indication, 2010 will be the Year of the Tablet PC. Practically every major consumer tech company came out with something thin, touchable, and Twitter-friendly.

The evolution of the tablet PC is similar to that of the laptop, the netbook, and the smartphone: companies aren't so much selling us a better computer as they are selling us new ways to use computers. However, consumers want something more portable than a laptop, more powerful than a netbook, and more comfortable than a smartphone - and a new tablet PC could very well fill all of those needs, in many different ways.

People who love their e-readers but want something a little more versatile would likely love the Adam by Notion Ink, for example, while fans of touchscreen smartphones should pay close attention to Dell's concept Android tablet, which could offer similar internet functions with a much more comfortable user experience.

To see what the burgeoning tablet PC market might be able to offer you in the near future, read on for a comparison of the newly announced tablets from HP, Lenovo, and Sony, as well as a look at some of the almost-announced tablets on the horizon. Most likely, none of these products will be able to replace your main PC - but one of them just might scratch an itch you didn't realize you had.

HP Multitouch Tablet

HP's as-yet-unnamed tablet was one of the stars of CES, considering that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer demoed it at the CES 2010 keynote.

HP multitouch tablet

Some tablet enthusiasts were disappointed because it wasn't the rumoured Microsoft ‘Courier' dual-screen tablet prototype that leaked in September 2009, and in Ballmer's brief demo we didn't see any game-changing features. At this point, though, HP's tablet seems poised to define the standard tablet PC experience. We do know that the HP tablet runs Windows 7, supports multitouch gestures, has an accelerometer to change the display's orientation automatically, and is due out in mid-2010 for under $500 (£310).