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July 31, 2014

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Consumer Electronics hot ticket: 3-D television

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Justin M. Bowen

Mitsubishi unveils its new 3D televisions at the CES Unveiled event Tuesday at the Venetian.

CES Unveiled

Mitsubishi unveils its new 3D televisions at the CES Unveiled event Tuesday at the Venetian. Launch slideshow »

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The International Consumer Electronics Show won’t officially begin until Thursday, but the convention center halls already are abuzz with anticipation of the products that will be unveiled.

For decades, CES has been a place for the world’s top names in electronics to debut their newest products and latest innovations. Some hit the store shelves and are in consumers’ hands almost immediately while others remain mere concepts for years.

Among the thousands of products introduced at this year’s CES, a handful will break away from the pack. At an afternoon press event on Tuesday, Consumer Electronics Association analysts confirmed what bloggers have been teasing for weeks — electronic tablets, e-readers, Internet TVs and 3-D televisions will be among the hottest products at the show.

“I can’t think of a single theme in all of CES that has been as big as 3-D TV,” CEA Chief Economist and Director of Research Shawn DuBravac said.

With James Cameron’s 3D movie “Avatar” breaking box office records, the 2010 CES may be the perfect time for companies to debut more accessible 3-D technology. Several big names in TV and video, including Sony, Panasonic and LG, are expected to show off products with 3-D capabilities.

And 3-D will extend past the TV front. Expect to see it everywhere — in laptops, digital cameras and mobile devices, DuBravac said.

The 3-D trend was big during 2009’s CES, with Sony showing off some of the first 3-D TVs. This year, manufacturers are expected to announce release dates and prices, DuBravac said.

CEA said it estimates a quarter of all TV sets sold in 2013 will be 3-D.

In addition, networks such as Discovery and ESPN are expected to announce plans for 3-D broadcasts. ESPN may offer World Cup soccer as the first major sporting event in 3-D.

Another hot topic this year: Internet-connected TVs. CEA expects 20 percent of all TVs shipped in 2010 to be Internet-ready.

With an overwhelming amount of content available online, DuBravac said, companies will be showcasing ways to manage it and help users move it to multiple screens in their homes.

One of the tech world’s most anticipated products is Apple’s still-unannounced tablet computer.

While Apple won’t be at CES, its competitors are expected to be everywhere with tablets at this year’s show. Microsoft is expected to display its Courier tablet this week, possibly at CEO Steve Ballmer’s keynote address Wednesday night.

Bringing tablets to the mainstream at this year’s show is Freescale Semiconductor, which will be showcasing a tablet priced at $199 with a 7-inch touch screen and 64GB of memory. The price of Apple’s tablet is rumored to be about $1,000.

DuBravac said tablets will close the gap between mobile phones and TVs in the 5- to 15-inch screen spectrum, and products such as e-readers and netbooks will double as tablets.

CES visitors can expect a significant offering of e-readers at this year’s show, creating more competition for Amazon’s Kindle. There are so many e-readers this year that CES is devoting an enitre pavilion to them.

Expect the e-readers at this year’s convention to do a lot more than display downloadable black-and-white books and periodicals. DuBravac said manufacturers will be showcasing e-readers will color and motion.

Among the new contenders will be the shatterproof Que by Plastic Logic, the dual-screen Entourage Edge and the Skiff, the thinnest e-reader to date.

CEA analysts said other trends to look for are health in consumer electronics, products running software like Windows 7 and Android and another year of the green technology craze.

The convention will run Thursday through Sunday at the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Las Vegas Hilton and the Sands Expo. The industry’s largest trade show is expected bring an estimated 110,000 visitors and 2,500 exhibitors.

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