CES Preview Day Two: Gadgets galore

The International Consumer Electronics Show is still a day away. But with 2,700 exhibits fighting for attention this year, vendors have trotted out several of their best inventions early.

LG's Watch Phone
LG Electronics has captured a piece of Dick Tracy fiction this year with its impressively sleek wristwatch/telephone. The working prototype packed in a touchscreen, 3G signal, and video camera. When you get a call, bring the watch to your mouth and chat through its built-in speaker phone. LG plans to release the watch phone by midyear, according to Wired. No word on its price tag.

Powermat wireless rechargers
Imagine life without wires. That's the pitch for Powermat's new charge pads. Place your drained iPhone or RAZR on the mat, and it will recharge the devices through magnetic induction. As with LG's watch phone, Powermat iterates on the ideas of competitors. But its approach seems to make more sense. Right now, the power connection is hidden in cell-phone cases or extra dongles for laptops or PlayStation Portables. But, "the hope is to get this technology embedded both in devices, but also in homes and offices and hotels," reports The San Francisco Chronicle. Mats start at $100; the receivers will cost about $30. Both will be available this fall.

2009 trends
The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the Las Vegas trade show each year, predicts that "greenness" will play an increasing role in technology marketing. Its research shows that consumers care more about manufacturing processes, packaging materials, and how to recycle gadgets.
"More than half are willing to pay a little more for 'green,' " Steve Koening, CEA's director of industry analysts, told the BBC. "22 percent said they were willing to pay up to 15 percent more for it."

While many analysts assume the current economy will dampen gadget purchases this year, the association anticipates that certain breakthrough technologies will roar ahead in 2009. Sales of e-readers, HD flash camcorders, and super-thin organic LED screens will each double by year's end, predicts CEA. The association is also bullish about smart thermostats, next-generation DVDs, and pint-sized "netbooks."

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