January 4, 2010

Consumer Electronics Show Opens Thursday

Next week's premier Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas will feature sleeker, smarter mobile phones, tablets, and netbooks, as companies unveil their latest gadgets, AFP reported.

The global economic crisis has caused this year's CES to be smaller, with only 110,000 registered to attend, but the number of first-time exhibitors tops 330 for the first time.

Even though it is to debut at Google's headquarters in California two days before CES starts on Thursday, the Google "Nexus One" smart phone based on Android software is likely to ignite CES buzz.

Analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley believes all eyes are on the Nexus One.

"The other thing of course is the tablets. A wave of Android tablets will be hitting at CES, and it looks like Apple's is coming at the end of the month," he added.

India-based Notion Inc is set to unveil a tablet computer at CES that is generating a lot of interest due to attributes such as paper-like screen graphics for easy reading outdoors and full-color resolution.

Apple, however, is waiting a few more weeks to launch a tablet, but it will likely assess how competitors position themselves in the market and adapt its strategy accordingly.

CES will also debut several electronic books, or e-books, during the conference.

At least six million e-readers will be sold in the United States alone in 2010, doubling the number bought in the country the prior year, according to estimates from industry tracker Forrester Research.

In an invitation-only press conference slated prior to the opening of the show, an eagerly awaited QUE e-reader by Plastic Logic will premier Thursday.

"We are going to be awash in e-books. The contrast between tablets and e-books is going to be pronounced," Enderle said.

Netbooks or "ultraportables" will also be a rage at CES as computer makers debut offerings tailored for a market that has boomed during hard times.

Making devices ranging from flat-screen televisions to cars or home thermostats "smart" with computer chips and links to the Internet will gain momentum at CES.

The ever-thinning televisions that are a hallmark of CES will tout online capabilities along with rich graphics prime for viewing films in high-definition or Blu-ray formats.

Dolby consumer technology marketing director Craig Eggers predicts we will see the TV set become more than just a simple TV set and the Blu-ray player more than a Blu-ray player.

"Last year saw Yahoo! widgets on TV sets. More television makers are installing devices to stream YouTube, CinemaNow, and other online video on TV," he said.

Enderle believes television screens with improved 3D capabilities will be "big stuff" at CES and there is a rumor that the first U.S. 3D television station will launch during CES.

At the conference, the videogame gear zone and an iLounge devoted to software and accessories for Apple iPhones, iPods and Macintosh computers will be just another feature of this year's show.

Enderle also said that 4G -- the coming iteration of wireless broadband Internet technology -- is expected to start showing up hard at CES.

"It is kind of the holy grail of next-generation wireless: more bandwidth, lower price and overall better experience," he said.


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