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CES 2009: Five important technologies this year

This year's ICES is a wrap, and while many proclaimed its demise due to a considerable reduction in attendance at the event, it was still an impressive display of technological prowess. Simply stated, it's still a foot-destroying affair.
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Written by Andrew Nusca on

This year's ICES is a wrap, and while many proclaimed its demise due to a considerable reduction in attendance at the event, it was still an impressive display of technological prowess. Simply stated, it's still a foot-destroying affair.

Now that I've had some time to think on the plane ride back from Las Vegas, it's apparent that the show still managed to introduce several key technologies that will make headway in 2009.

Here they are:

1.) Convergence. Microsoft head honcho Steve Ballmer mentioned bridging the gap between the PC and the phone and the TV in his keynote, and several high-profile vendors echoed the sentiment in press conferences earlier in the day. On the show floor, almost every major HDTV manufacturer was promoting TVs that connected to the Web or streamed content from the cloud. Several typically-offline products had online components. Smartphones are set to be the next mass-market item. And home networking is being revitalized beyond a useful setup for geeks to an essential way to sync your life and the products that manage it.

2.) OLED. This is primarily Sony's game for the time being, but the technology is starting to work its way into different products, from the obvious like TVs and displays to cameras, digital photo frames and phones. As the price (slowly) comes down, it's only going to help -- wallets and eyeballs, of course.

3.) Eco. Yes, we're still beating the "green" trend to death, but in this case, it's less about carbon credits and more about reducing power consumption. Several product lines, with or without "green" labels, promoted reduced power consumption and more efficiency, from displays to processors to hard drives (SSD vs. HDD) to laptop batteries. It's like the next EnergyStar movement, right before our eyes.

4.) High-definition. Most of America is still rocking an analog TV set in their home, but digitized viewers are already moving beyond the digital signal to HD content (preferably streaming). Besides the obvious HDTVs, this includes handheld camcorders, digital cameras and pretty much anything that has a screen. It won't be long before our smartphones -- yes, normal phones are going out of style fast -- are rated for HD.

5.) Open-source. The economy has the squeeze on a lot of companies, and as a result, there's a stronger motivation to promote open-source-esque products, or at least incorporate services made my other companies. Gone are the days of an IE-only existence (hear that, Ballmer?), and with it comes the mindset: for example, one of the most important functions of Palm's new webOS and Pre is that it can incorporate e-mail from several clients (MS Exchange, Gmail, etc.) and IM from several providers (gChat, Yahoo, AIM, etc.). Even if a product is not open-source on the development side (Palm webOS is), that kind of breadth of choice is something consumers seem to be clamoring for more and more. Google's Android was absent at the show, which gave Palm room to make a big splash, but expect more Android-related announcements in coming months.

Did you follow CES and think I left something out? Offer your suggestion in TalkBack.

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