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"Tablet-mania" hits Consumer Electronics show

posted 6 Jan 2011, 12:35 by Mpelembe   [ updated 6 Jan 2011, 13:28 ]

The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas kicks off on Thursday (January 06) as companies line up for a chance to carve out a position in the lucrative tablet market.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, UNITED STATES (JANUARY 06) REUTERS - The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opened its "doors for business" on Thursday (January 06) in Las Vegas with a promise of a brighter future thanks to sleeker, faster and better "smart" devices.

That evolution is clearly on display in the battle for tablet supremacy, where more than 80 companies are expected to unveil their version of the Apple's popular iPad in the fast growing market.

Motorola, Research in Motion and Toshiba are among the most anticipated iPad rivals in a sea of new competitors bent on challenging Apple and stealing a piece of a fast-growing market expected to top 50 million units next year.

Apple, which is again absent from CES, has sold more than 7 million iPads since launching the device in April and analysts predict that the company sold as many as 6 million in the December quarter.

"You know when Apple first announced the iPad, the big question was 'why do I need a tablet?," explains Molly Wood, executive producer for CNET.

"But, as people started using it and realized that it is a really useful personal entertainment device --it can be your own personal TV, if someone else is using the television, it is a great babysitter since you can put tons of games on it for the kids, you can stream movies. You can watch TV and movies on the plane. It is much better for traveling than something like a netbook. It is a whole new class of device that you find all kind of uses for that you would not have expected."

Besides tablets, the marriage of the internet and television is another main theme at this year's CES. Through the use of "smart" top boxes, connected TV has grown up in the applications it can now offer users.

"So, before the idea of a connected TV was you could get a widget that you would get weather on TV. Now, you can do social network and other applications that allow you to do different things. Now you can search for and watch web video at the same time while watching regular TV," says Wood.

Of course CES would not be CES without a plethora of gadgets, gizmos and other items on display in hopes of becoming the next "big thing."

Among the items of interest is a phone case that acts as a picture frame for digital photos, a portable solar pack that can charge up all your "smart" devices and the "SPYbelt" that allows you to carry up to 4 cell phones or tablets.

The International CES is the world's largest consumer technology tradeshow. It features 2700 exhibitors and more than 125,000 people are expected to attend. It runs from Thursday through Sunday (January 09)