CES preview: What to watch at this year's gadget show
CES buzz suggests it'll be a big year for e-readers, 3-D TVs, and tablet computers. But which predictions hold water?
The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the biggest tech convention of the year, feels a bit like the World's Fairs did many decades ago. Part spectacle, part innovation benchmark, CES welcomes the wizards of the modern age to unveil their latest gizmos and inspire awe, glee, and a healthy dose of covetousness.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Scenes from CES 2010
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In the days before the show, tech analysts earn their keep by predicting how "this will be the year of the [fill in the blank]." With CES kicking off Thursday, many see the 2010 tech horizon dominated by 3-D TVs, e-book readers, and tablet computers.
These forecasts always feel accurate within the walls of the convention center. But all too often, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Trends that seemed sure-fire fizzle before the new year.
For example, CNET's gadget of CES 2009 was the Palm Pre. The slim, snazzy smart phone surprised and ensorcelled reporters. Some called it an "iPhone killer." Popular consensus considered it Palm's savior. Now, many wonder if the company will make it to 2011. The Pre and its little sister, the Palm Pixi, have gained barely any traction while the iPhone and Android close in on BlackBerry.
Many years in a row, analysts – or at least loud publicists – proclaimed the year of the 3-D had arrived. The third dimension definitely reached theaters in 2009. Four of the 10 top-grossing movies of the year were 3-D titles. And the 3-D sci-fi epic "Avatar" pulled in a billion dollars worldwide in only three weeks. Whether the same trend will invade living rooms remains unknown, but several encouraging signs popped up recently. Last month, the industry group behind Blu-ray finalized plans to let the high-definition discs play 3-D movies. And ESPN will launch a 3-D sports network in June. The new station will air 85 live events before the end of the year. But the problem with bringing home 3-D video is equipment. Both Blu-ray and ESPN will require special TVs and glasses for their 3-D schemes to work. Unless CES 2010 delivers a tech miracle, expect the televisions to be expensive and the glasses bulky.