Panasonic 4K tablet
There's no denying it: from a pure technology perspective, Panasonic's 4K tablet prototype leads the CES pack. Once you've seen that many pixels in a much denser area than a 4K TV, it's hard to look at any other screen, let alone other tablets, the same way. That Panasonic even treats it as a tablet is equally audacious, as the 20-inch LCD and Core i5 processor are closer to what we'd expect from a desktop. The company doesn't have a definite release date or a price, but we'll honestly be happy if the 4K tablet ships at all -- it's a classic example of pushing technology to the limit.
Microsoft Surface Pro
Although the Surface Pro wasn't on the official CES itinerary, it was undoubtedly one of the stars of the show. Many Windows fans have been holding out for the Pro as the "real" Microsoft-designed tablet, and our early impressions suggest that's what they'll get. Going Pro overcomes the performance issues of the Surface RT, throws in a much sharper display and introduces uncommonly intuitive pen input. It's too early to say whether or not buyers will be willing to forgive the Pro's relative heft or shorter anticipated battery life (compared to the RT-based version), but it may represent the definitive Windows 8 experience.
Acer Iconia B1-A71
Why is the modest Iconia B1-A71 on a list full of heavyweights? Because it's a $150 Android tablet from a major manufacturer. While Acer's modest component choices and build quality won't bowl over those of us who can splurge on an Iconia Tab A700, that's really not the point -- it's that many can soon afford a dual-core, Jelly Bean-toting slate where they might have had to settle for an outdated device, or nothing at all. Remember, Google's Nexus 7 is both more expensive and simply unavailable in many parts of the world. Virtually any solidly built device that brings technology to the masses is noteworthy in our book.
Vizio 10-inch tablet with Tegra 4
Vizio's unnamed 10-inch tablet may trail Samsung's Nexus 10 in the super-resolution Android tablet wars, but it has an ace up its sleeve in NVIDIA's Tegra 4. Having two extra Cortex-A15 cores and next-generation graphics could make better use of a 2,560 x 1,600 display. We'll no doubt see other tablets like this in the future, and Vizio has yet to even commit to a launch -- still, there's a certain amount of credit due for being first.
Archos 97 Titanium HD
Archos gave us a surprise toward the end of CES with its Titanium tablet line, and most of all with its 97 Titanium HD. While the iPad was the first with a very high-resolution 2,048 x 1,536 display in a 4:3 aspect ratio, Archos' 9.7-inch slate does so at just a $249 price. We'd be tempted to accept the plastic build quality and potentially slower dual-core processor if they lead to a much gentler hit to the pocketbook.