NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Among the numerous thousands of new products and announcements at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Las Vegas 2011, there were only two that really mattered, in terms of moving the ball forward for the tablet category. These were the first display of Google's ( GOOG) Android 3.0 Honeycomb software, showed for the Motorola ( MOT) Xoom tablet, as well as the first hands-on with the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The Android 3.0 Honeycomb software will become available on more devices than I could possibly list, probably no later than some time in the third quarter of 2011. That said, Google's "hero device" is the Motorola Xoom, which is said to become available by March 2011, with additional versions (LTE, etc.) in the second quarter. So what was Motorola able to show at CES, on the Xoom?

At CES, people were not allowed to touch or play with the Motorola Xoom, and it did not carry even an early version of the 3.0 Honeycomb interface. The tablets shown by Motorola and Verizon Wireless simply ran a handful of videos showing what the interface is intended to look like, which is like showing a drawing of a fantasy car. As far as I could tell, these videos were similar to what Motorola had already posted on YouTube.

In other words, from a software perspective, these "demos" were pretty useless. Actually, as I watched the Verizon Wireless representative try to run the video demos in front of me in the Verizon booth, the Motorola Xoom crashed almost every minute. Clearly, the new Google tablet software isn't ready yet.

From a hardware perspective, though, we did find out one thing: The Motorola Xoom tablet requires you to carry an additional power cable, beyond the MicroUSB that powers almost every smartphone in the market today -- Motorola, BlackBerry, Samsung, HTC and others. This seems to be a major drawback of all Android tablets I have seen so far: A new power cable that's different from every smartphone's power cable.

In contrast, RIM ( RIMM) showed the PlayBook the way it's supposed to be shown: RIM allowed everyone to -- pardon the pun -- play with it. I loaded up the PlayBook with numerous simultaneous windows, with applications running Quake, high-definition video, and Adobe Flash-intensive web sites. The performance was amazing, with all apps multitasking in separate, visible windows -- just like you're used to on your Windows or Mac PC/laptop. And at no point did any of the multiple devices I tested crash.

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