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Cool gadgets and hot tech that will shine at CES 2013

PCWorld Staff | Jan. 4, 2013
With less than a week to go before this year's International CES Show in Las Vegas commences, it's unclear which new products will generate the most buzz among attendees of the massive trade show. However, Ultra HDTVs, Windows 8 tablets, smart appliances, and smartphone apps figure to fight for center stage.

TV time

This year's highest-end television sets are likely to offer amazing image quality, but will you be able to afford the best of the best? Ultra HD (or "4K," as it's also known) and OLED sets will be more readily available in stores this year--and from what we've seen out of both technologies, they'll put your average 1080p LED or plasma set to shame.

But even though you will theoretically be able to buy these future-of-TV sets in the coming year, they'll be far too expensive for most consumers to afford, on the order of $8000 to $10,000 a pop.

OLED displays were a major attraction at last year's CES; and the first OLED sets were supposed to be in stores by the end of 2012. That didn't happen, though, as the 55-inch LG and Samsung OLED prototype displays that we saw on the show floor last year were delayed. Now the first OLED wave is set to hit U.S. shores this year. LG's first-generation OLED TV is available for preordering, and next week's CES will surely provide plentiful details about Samsung's first OLED offering.

LG has announced an 84-inch 4K set that it will display at CES, and in late 2012 Sony announced its first 4K set--another 84-incher with a hard drive preloaded with a few 4K movies. We're likely to witness big-screen 4K HDTV announcements from Sharp and Samsung at the show.

At those steep prices, most show attendees will limit themselves to window shopping when it comes to top-of-the-line televisions. However, the rise of 4K and OLED may make excellent plasmas, edge-lit LED sets, and even full-array LED HDTVs more affordable, too.

Sounding off

Thanks to their compatibility with computers, smartphones, and tablets, Bluetooth speakers continue to gain popularity despite their indifferent quality when compared to Wi-Fi, AirPlay, and direct-connect speakers. We expect to see many Bluetooth speakers at CES, and indeed some new models have appeared in advance of the show.

In home theater, look for more soundbars and fewer surround-sound A/V receivers to appear at CES. In addition, simple improvements to the built-in speakers on HDTVs seem to be gaining steam. Definitive Technology, GoldenEar Technology, and Philips have all received CES Innovation awards this year for soundbar-type home theater audio systems, and we've seen previews of similar products that will debut in Vegas.


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