The International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as it’s widely referred to as, begins tomorrow.

While it may be losing its “clout”, it’s still one of the biggest venues for companies to launch their new products at – and CES 2012 will be no different.

A lot has been made of the dozens of ultrabook launches that are expected to occur, but there’s plenty of activity in the tablet space as well:

  • Lenovo is launching a 10-inch tablet, the IdeaTab S2, with a detachable keyboard which will ostensibly compete with Asus’ Transformer.
  • Acer is unveiling an Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet that will reportedly have a true 1080p display and HDMI out port.
  • Vizio, perhaps best known for its televisions, is entering the computing space and launching, amongst other things, a 10-inch tablet.
  • Toshiba’s CES announcements will include a new tablet that it promises will be the thinnest and lightest 10.1-inch tablet on the market.

The implication from these product launches is clear: PC manufacturers aren’t giving up entirely on the PC and they are embracing ultrabooks, but they’re increasingly going all-in on post-PC devices, namely tablets, too.

Yes, early attempts to compete with Apple’s iPad, such as RIM’s playbook, showed the risks of being too early to enter an important, but still nascent, market.

The big question, of course, is which companies will succeed. As we’ve seen from the success of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Barnes & Nobles’ NOOK tablets, price matters. Many of the new tablets expected at CES certainly won’t be priced at under $200, so it’s unclear just how successful many of them will be if they’re effectively competing against the iPad. It’s also worth considering that Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble also offer strong content ecosystems; vanilla Android-based devices may not have the same perceived cachet in the content category.

One thing is for sure, however: as more and
more companies build decent tablets, and add interesting if not
innovative features, there can be little doubt that a growing
number of consumers are going to be tablet owners in 2012.

Which they’ll own is something Apple and PC manufacturers will be duking it out to determine.