Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
2010 International CES
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- Panasonic 3-D TV among products honored at CES awards (1-9-2010)
- Technologies showcased at CES are game-changers, experts say (1-9-2010)
- Gadgets and garters: CES, porn convention sharing annual space (1-7-2010)
The 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show won’t officially begin until Thursday, but Las Vegas convention halls are abuzz with talk of products to be unveiled later in the week.
For more than a decade, Las Vegas has played host to the world’s largest technology show, where thousands of companies showcase their latest and greatest products. The VCR was one of the first breakthrough technologies introduced at the show in 1970, with more recent product releases including the Xbox, Blu-ray and HDTV.
But among the thousands of products showcased this week, only a handful will make it into consumers’ hands during the next year. The rest will hang in limbo as ideas. During a CES preview event Tuesday, Consumer Electronics Association research analysts discussed their picks for the top trends on this year’s show floor.
For many bloggers and tech writers, the analysts only confirmed what they had been teasing for weeks — the 2011 CES will be the year of the tablet computers — again.
“It’s no surprise to anyone in this room that tablets will be one of the key themes this year,” said Shawn DuBravac, CEA chief economist and chief of research.
On the heels of Apple’s iPad release in April, companies including Samsung, Toshiba and Vizio are all expected to introduce competing devices this year. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who introduced a line of tablets at his keynote address last year, is expected to make a repeat announcement during his talk Wednesday night.
The CEA initially estimated 80 tablets would be released at this year’s CES, but DuBravac said they now expected more than 100.
DuBravac said tablets will close the gap between mobile phones and TVs in the 5- to 15-inch screen spectrum. Whether they will cannibalize or coexist with e-readers, one of the hot products at the 2010 CES, is unclear, DuBravac said.
In 2010, tablet sales totaled 17 million units. That number is expected hit 30 million this year as more companies enter the tablet market.
Another anticipated hot product this year: Internet-connected TVs. 3-D TV has hogged the spotlight at CES for the last two years, but CEA senior research analyst Ben Arnold expects manufacturers to present their TVs as Internet-ready with the 3-D capabilities, rather than the reverse, which is how manufacturers have promoted the product in previous years.
The CEA expects about 9 percent of all TVs sold in 2011 to be Internet-enabled, up from 4 percent in 2010. By 2014, the CEA estimates about half of all TVs sold to have the capability.
But 3-D isn’t going away. The CEA expects about 2 million 3-D TVs to sell this year, and DuBravac said the technology will pop up in in-vehicle entertainment systems, video games, smart phones and digital signs.
CEA analysts said other trends to look for are the evolution of the smartphone, more content-sharing gadgets and sensor-based devices such as Microsoft’s Kinect.
The convention runs Thursday through Sunday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Las Vegas Hilton and the Venetian. The industry’s largest trade show is expected bring an estimated 126,000 visitors and 2,700 exhibitors.