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5 takeaways from CES 2013

By , Network World
January 12, 2013 12:47 PM ET

Network World - CES 2013 has come and gone. In addition to "wear more comfortable shoes next time," here's what we learned at this year's premier consumer technology conference.

Best of CES 2013 in pictures

Television: The next device up for innovation

It was hard to avoid television products and services at CES this week. One of the top buzzwords at the event was 4K, or ultra-high-definition TV, which many saw as the industry's attempt to rebound from its costly gamble on 3D TVs over the past couple years.

As its name implies, 4K ultra-high-definition TV (UHDTV) offers four-times the resolution of 1080p TV displays, at 3840 × 2160 pixels. That is a lot of pixels, and the displays provide a very impressive picture. The latest standard for UHDTV, Rec 2020, is capable of producing colors that can't possibly be reproduced on HDTV, making 4K displays somewhat of a breakthrough.

Whether that matters enough to drive significant sales is a whole different question. If consumers were reluctant to purchase 3D TVs even after flocking to theaters for major 3D movie titles, they may not be lining up for these higher-resolution TVs right away. It's not likely that many people are dissatisfied with their 1080p HDTVs. Getting consumers to purchase 4K UHDTVs would mean convincing them that there's something wrong with the TV they already own.

However, a few content breakthroughs at CES could turn the heads of TV lovers. Smart TVs with Internet apps, such as Netflix and fantasy football, can't come soon enough. Haier showed a smart TV with Roku Internet streaming compatibility, while Hisense showed a Google TV-based display that came with a custom, two-sided remote control. One side featured a trackpad and individual buttons for Netflix and live TV, while the other was equipped with a full QWERTY keyboard for search.

Meanwhile, others focused solely on providing TV content in new ways. Dish Networks' Hopper, which records content and makes it accessible on other TVs in the house, earned rave reviews from many at CES. Even more exciting was the news that the Hopper would come compatible with Slingbox technology, which allows remote access to local TV content, including regional sports games and DVR recordings, on Android and iOS devices.

If the mobile phone has been the focus of innovation of the past five years, it seems the TV is the device manufacturers are targeting for the next few.

The PC is now another touchscreen device

It became apparent at CES 2013 that the touchscreen is ready to make its foray into more traditional computing form factors.

First came an announcement during an Intel press conference on Monday. While showing off a string of convertible, hybrid notebook/tablet devices, Kirk Skaugen, general manager of Intels' PC client group, declared that touchscreen navigation will be a requirement for any device in the fourth generation of its Ultrabook line.

In the tablet age, consumers may not abandon PCs entirely, as many have declared, but they will see the advantages of a tablet's mobility and large screen size. Intel recognizes this, and with the new requirement it's encouraging manufacturers to continue putting out more devices that can convert from notebook to tablet.

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