Sure, this site is mostly about code, services, web technology and stuff-in-the-cloud. But if you can't run the end result on a smart-looking box, what's the point? Check out the latest tablets from Lenovo, Acer and Toshiba with some office skills, full HD and super-sleek looks, for work or play anywhere, but all of them live in the shadow of the iPad 3.

Thin Is In

For someone who remembers the first portables being so only if you had arms like Hulk Hogan, CES this year looks like the whole industry has been on one of those extreme diets. As mentioned last week, ultrabooks are the big new thing for computer users coming out of this consumer-focused show, but even their svelte lines look chunky compared to some of the other gadgets available.

For a start there is Toshiba's Excite X10 tablet, thinner than an iPad 2 at just 7.7mm thick, and packing Android 4.0, its a pricey (starting at US$ 529) and scarily thin device sculpted from magnesium. It comes with micro USB, HDMI, SD and dock ports, dual cameras, dual-core processors and a gig of RAM. Will the Extreme succeed in the new race-to-the-low-budget market led by the Kindle Fire?

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Toshiba's new tablet pushes the limits of thinness
 

Looking For More Features?

If sheer skinniness doesn't grab your attention, then Acer has the first full HD-capable Iconia tablet with a resolution of 1900x1080 so that it can play full 1080p HD content. Other tablets will be claiming this feature very soon, if not this week, and the Iconia won't be out for months yet. But if you have high standards and like movies on the go, expect your next tablet to offer nothing less.

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Lenovo's S2 offers power and business appeal
 

Offering a little more functionality for business users is Lenovo's new S2 tablet, powered by a new Snapdragon Krait processor. It will come with a smart optional keyboard dock to make it an office-compatible, IT-department friendly gadget that instantly becomes your roving executive assistant.

Weighing just over a pound and offer a standard 1280*800 display, the S2 is part of a move that sees Lenovo playing more to the consumer crowd. It also has a 55" Android HDTV set coming out, trying to get a jump on the whole home TV/computer/tablet in one market.

The Elephant in the Room

The trouble is, for all these advances and the great design efforts, Apple's iPad 3 is just around the corner with the latest scuttlebutt suggesting a HD display and reduced price to make it more budget-competitive. While the company may focus on eduction at its next event, the unveiling can't be far off.

Those features along makes the iPad 3 likely to sell more on its first day than all these devices put together over their lives, which makes you feel kind of sad for the hard-working engineers responsible. And, with a super-spec iPad 4 possibly due later in the year, you have to wonder how they will keep up.