What’s In Store at CES 2010

With the 2009 holiday season rapidly coming to a close, techies around the world can again rejoice with the coming of the annual electronic gadget wunderfest in Las Vegas. Officially known as the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it will feature an estimated 2,500 exhibitors showing their products to some 110,000 registered attendees.

While most manufacturers are tight-lipped regarding product announcements before the big show, there are a number of items that have been gathering steam over the last few months and are sure to feature prominently at CES.

Without further ado:

Netbooks
This is an idea that has been around since the mid-nineties but has just caught fire in the past couple of years. It all began with the ASUS Eee PC 700, the first mass-produced netbook which hit stores in 2007. By taking a laptop, dropping the optical drive, using only FLASH based memory with an OS just powerful enough to run an internet browser, email and office type software, the netbook was born. Coupling state-of-the-art Lithium Ion batteries and today’s hi-speed WiFi connections allowing for cloud-computing, the pendulum has started to swing back to the client-server paradigm of computing from decades of free-standing PCs. These micro-computers are making rapid gains on other laptops with their low cost and increasingly complex feature sets.

Pico Projectors
These miniature, free-standing digital image projectors first started showing up a few years ago as a means for quick, on-the-go presentations from PDAs and digital cameras. Though a great idea, pico projectors have suffered from dim and poor image quality until recently. In addition to small, free-standing devices, expect to see pico projectors being built-in to your smart phones and other mobile devices in coming years.

3DTV
Slated to be the next big thing in home entertainment, 3DTV was a big hit at the 2009 CES show with an array of televisions by manufactures such as Panasonic and Sony to accessories and even games such as Guitar Hero 3D. However, it is now 2010 and all these 3D products have thus far been vaporware. Still, as in the case of Bluetooth, manufactures often jump the gun in promoting products at CES that may be a few years off from actually being ready for market. With this in mind, coupled with Blu-Ray’s recent ratification of their own 3D specs, I think we’ll start to see a trickle of 3D TV products in the coming months. Stay tuned on this front, this could really change the way we see TV.

E-Readers
Ever since Amazon released their Kindle E-reader in 2007, these devices have been more driven by curiosity and die-hard techies than everyday consumers. This all looks to change though in 2010. An onslaught of competitors led by Sony’s Reader and Barnes & Noble’s Nook among a host of others has driven prices of these devices down to affordable levels. With increased competition, file formats should become less and less proprietary as well which is good for the consumer. Additionally, Google is currently offering thousands of public domain books for free in digital form.

Although this year’s show may be a little smaller than years past due to the economic downturn, it should undoubtedly live up to the hype by bringing its usual mix of innovation, vaporware and just plain ridiculous consumer electronics that make you wonder “who buys this stuff?”.  For all you techies out there, we hope you enjoy the coming days of CES 2010; I know I will.

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