It's the Super Bowl of electronics, mecca for techies. It's the Consumer Electronics Show, a first glimpse of the 20,000 gadgets that will hit store shelves in 6 months or so -- or else never see the light of day.
Every year is different, full of hope and promise for a next wave of technologies that will transform the world. This year’s event isn’t short on that hope and promise -- and hype, of course.
A few specific products I'm excited about at CES this year:
The biggest flat-screen TV in the world Panasonic is in the spotlight for its plethora of HD, 3D and superthin flat-screen TVs. But what's really caught the convention's eyes is the company's mega TV; it's 152 inches in size (that's 12.6 feet if you're keeping track) and features 3D plasma technology.
To make it a reality, Panasonic claims to have freshly developed "ultra high-speed 3D drive technology," new chips necessary to enable high-quality Full HD 3D display on the ultra large 4,096 x 2,160 pixels panel.
Panasonic wouldn’t reveal any price tags, but I hear it may run you half a million dollars or more.
Nintendo 3ds The next-generation of the company's portable gaming console has taken a lot of heat: The 3D function may not be safe for kids 6 years and under, Nintendo admits. But after you turn the 3D function off, you find a very versatile portable gaming console full of features, such as Wi-Fi and a 3D camera to take images of yourself that you can insert into games.
It will be available in March, with full details on pricing and availability coming on January 19, according to the company.
RIM Playbook This is Blackberry’s answer to the iPad, though we have yet to hear anything definitive about pricing or a release date. RIM is making a big push at CES for the Playbook -- and I had a chance to play with it.
Sleek and weighing less than a pound, many of the features take direct aim at the iPad. The Playbook brings to the table many of the features Apple's iPad doesn’t have, things like multitasking, access to Flash content, and front- and rear-facing video and still cameras. What makes this really stand out, however, is the feature geared to Blackberry addicts: full connectivity.
Here are a few of the other big trends people are talking about this year.
The connected living room Long promised by content creators, Internet companies, cable providers and hardware makers, this idea is showing some real presence, traction and dealmaking this year. Reed Hastings, the head of Netflix, is a keynote speaker this year, highlighting the theme’s importance. The very long engagement between the Internet and your living room TV set may soon result in a plausible marriage, one that isn’t complicated or expensive.
Smartphones galore Always a big push at CES, this year’s crop boast “supercomputing” abilities: With faster processors, 4G capabilities, and access to apps galore, they seem more like mini computers than regular phones. Both Microsoft and Google continue to battle to find their mobile operating system on the new devices they've unveiled. The industry is keeping count.
TVs, TVs and more TVs 3D was a huge push at last year’s event but the splashy CES introductions didn’t result in big sales. So this year, I'm seeing a more generic push for TVs of all kinds -- Internet connected ones, HD ones and 3D ones, sometimes all coming in one package.
Tablets everywhere The Apple iPad started the revolution and virtually every computer maker out there is unveiling a new version at CES. It's another battleground between Google and Microsoft on the operating system front. And competitors like Asus and Research in Motion attack the iPad head on with devices that are chock full of features missing in the iPad. The result is a pool of affordable, high performance choices for consumers.