8 Tech Trends To Watch At The CES

This week’s Consumer Electronics Show is one of best places to see new gadgets. Industry insiders expect tablet and midsize computers to be a dominant part of annual show as well as Internet-enabled or “smart” TVs now are all the buzz.

And if you like bold predictions, here’s one, courtesy of the president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the massive Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. “In my 28 years of attending the CES and participating in it and being a part of it and running it for most of that time, I can honestly say there will be more innovation at this show than any one in history,” Gary Shapiro said.

This comes from the head of the yearly show that has launched such big tech ideas as compact disc players, high-definition television and Blu-ray. CES is the largest consumer technology trade show and one of the best chances to see new technologies before they hit the market.

Despite Shapiro’s enthusiasm, though, this week’s CES buzz may be dampened by the lingering economic challenges and the fact that big announcements from Google and Apple are likely to bookend the show this month.

On Tuesday, Google is expected to launch its own mobile phone called Nexus One, and rumors are flying that Apple will unveil a touch-screen tablet computer January 26. Neither of the tech giants is scheduled to exhibit at CES, although Google said in an e-mail to CNN that it will attend a CES media event.

Watch a video about what to expect from CES:

Attendance at CES 2009 plunged 20 percent compared with 2008 numbers, largely because of the economic recession. The number of people at CES this week is estimated to hold flat at about 110,000 people. Still, after a slump in 2009, some market analysts predict a brighter future for consumer electronics this year — and the innovative CES that Shapiro predicts could blossom from this preliminary optimism.

Here’s CNN’s take of the hottest consumer tech trends to watch at CES.

1: Tablets and midsize screens
Size is everything in computing these days. Netbooks — those 8- to 10-inch dumbed-down laptops — were big news in 2009. This year, they may be eclipsed by an abundance of other midsize computing devices.

2: E-books and e-readers
Heard of the Amazon Kindle? The Barnes & Noble Nook? The Sony Reader? All of these e-readers — portable devices that let readers consume digital books without the eye strain caused by computer monitors — will face new competition at CES this year.

3: TV + Internet, or “Smart TV”
TVs will continue to morph into living room-based computers in 2010. The industry calls the new generation of televisions “Smart TVs” or “Connected TVs,” and they do things like download Netflix films, stream Pandora music, check e-mail and communicate with other electronic devices in the home.

4: Mobile TV
In June of last year, the U.S. switched from analog to digital television (goodbye, rabbit ears!). A quiet side effect of that change: U.S. television signals now can be viewed on mobile devices like smartphones and portable media players.

5: 3-D TV, games and laptops
In the wake of hit 3-D movies like “Avatar” and “Up,” several TV makers including Sony and Panasonic have announced plans to sell 3-D television to consumers in 2010. Most of the products demonstrated so far require viewers to wear clunky 3-D glasses in order for images to jump off of the screen. New at CES, will be 3-D technology from 3M that does not require glasses for viewing — as well as laptops and video games that display three-dimensional images.

6: Connected cars
Cars are turning into computers. Ford and other automakers have announced in-car wireless Internet. Ford will offer one of the keynote addresses at CES, which emphasizes the growing importance of the in-car technology industry. The emergence of mobile television also probably means live TV will come to automobile consoles and headrests soon.

7: Android everywhere
Despite the recession, smartphones — those mobile devices like the BlackBerry and iPhone that work almost like computers — were hot buys in 2009.Google’s rumored announcement of its Android phone on Tuesday will lead to new phones using the Android platform being unveiled at CES. The Android platform, which runs on phones like the Droid and myTouch, is expected to extend its reach from smartphones into other electronics like televisions.

8: Apps and accessories
With consumer spending down, cheap buys like mobile phone applications and accessory electronics may take center stage at CES. Apple’s iPhone is the dominant device for using mobile applications. The iTunes app store has sold more than 2 billion apps since it opened in July 2008. An iLounge at CES will feature 100 exhibitors with Apple-related products, including new mobile phone applications.

Get the whole Consumer Electronics Show story here:

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