Many bloggers, pundits, and gadget sites are discussing the absolute invasion of tablet/slate PCs at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. I have seen very little mention of new netbooks, which fits with my whinging theory that they just don’t fit the bill for enough users to make them a viable design. Tablets, however, just might, particularly with the “keyboard dock” that more or less turns it into a laptop (or netbook).

The tablet concept has been around for quite a long time. We were working on a reference design in conjunction with at Transmeta back in 1999/2000, and let’s not forget the ill-fated OQO that very nearly made it to market in the early-to-mid oughts. These devices were extremely similar to current ones, albeit much slower, wonkier video (though state of the art at the time), and connectivity limited to what was widely available, which meant wi-fi or even a bluetooth tether to a desktop PC.

And what ever happened to the lowly PDA? The Palm Tx was IS a connected (internal wi-fi) device with a nice screen, albeit low-resolution by today’s standards, good audio by any standards, lots of storage (well, if you include the card slot), and many apps available though no app store. It is a pretty good e-book reader, a pretty good movie player, not bad for casual gaming, pretty solid on battery life, and hefty enough to distract an intruder, yet it is now a dinosaur.

What do you, my faithful readers, think? Is the tablet/slate the new netbook, and will it survive the test of market adoption? And how does the new crop of e-book readers fit into the new/old worldview of mobile computing?