Mon January 3, 2011
All Tech Considered

A Preview Of The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show

I'm getting out my walking shoes to cover the miles of gadgets on display at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. According to the association that organizes it, we can expect a record 1.6 million square feet of the shiniest, newest, fastest, biggest and smallest laptops, TVs, smart phones, robots and appliances. All the stuff that most of us can only dream of owning. Here's what I'm expecting to see:

1. Tablet computers: Apple's iPad has proven that the market is there and this year I'm expecting tablets galore. Word on the street is that they will come in various sizes and use Windows, Android, Palm and even RIM operating systems. Many will have cameras for taking photos and for video chat and unlike the iPad they will have USB ports. According to James McQuivey at Forrester Research, Apple does not use the USB port because it has a patent on its own port for the iPod, iPhone, etc. and Apple collects royalties every time someone builds something to connect to its device.

Speaking of Apple. everyone is expecting an updated iPad right after CES. How much do you want to bet it has a camera?

2. 3-D TV: They were there last year and we can expect more of them this year. But sales of 3-D TVs didn't live up to the hype and I'm guessing it's still going to be a while before they really hit big.

3. Internet TV: More of them. But, the big disappointment is that Google TV will not be on the floor. After disappointing sales Google is withdrawing to its headquarters, licking its wounds and rethinking its plans. The Internet-connected TVs will likely be more of the same -- a few widgets, apps, and a limited connection.

4. Faster smart phones: 4G is the buzz. It's supposed to be a lot faster and Verizon is expected to announce a 4G Android smart phone. I'll test it and let you know if it's really that much faster.

5. Internet-connected appliances: Will your refrigerator talk to your Facebook page? I'm dying to see. This year is the first time CES is dedicated an entire area to this category. I want my fridge to tell me when I'm out of milk, but I don't know if we are there just yet.

6. Connected cars: We'll be seeing a lot more cars that are roaming Wi-Fi hotspots. What excites me the most is that I may never have to lose my car in a parking lot again. Various apps will locate it and give me directions to find it. Ford will be showing off a the "Car of the Future." It will have Internet radio, e-mail messaging that takes dictation, and a car app store. But, this isn't likely to be at a dealer near you just yet.

7. The silly fun stuff: Two inventions that caught my eye just because they are fun. The Misa Digital Guitar is a stringless guitar that has virtual strings and touch technology. Geeks can rock! Then there's the WheeMe, a robot that does massage. I don't know about this one. Human hands just seem so much warmer.

Heading off to Vegas tomorrow. I'll keep you posted on what I see. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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