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Mark Tebbe gets giddy about this year’s Consumer Electronics Show

Mark Tebbe

Mark Tebbe

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Updated: January 6, 2013 9:04PM

Tonight, Las Vegas becomes the center of the geek universe for me and other hardcore technology fanatics at the kickoff of the Consumer Electronics Show. And fortunately, what happens this week in Vegas — at least at CES — won’t stay in Vegas.

At CES, more than 20,000 of the newest technology products will be premiered, ranging from personal electronics such as smartphones, tablets and sensors to home electronics like televisions, garage-door openers and Internet-aware appliances. While it’s an industry-only conference, and not open to the general public, the news coverage of the show provides a preview of the future of technology (though the new products aren’t always delivered in the time initially promised, if at all).

I’ll give you a quick overview of what I expect to see at CES. Along with other iPhone 5 users, I’m hoping for a meaningful reapproach to iPhone and iPad accessories built upon Apple’s new Lightning connector, which has racked up complaints due to its incompatibility with older iPhones and iPod docks. Fans of Android phones and tablets will relish Sony’s new Android Xperia phone and other vendor’s tablets that range in size from 7 to 13 inches. While I’m quite excited to see Samsung’s flexible 5.5-inch phone screens, I don’t expect to see significant smartphone announcements from the vendor until next month’s GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

CES has always been the mecca for new televisions and will be again this year. I expect to see OLED TVs finally become thinner, sharper and brighter replacements for high-end televisions. I’m sure they’ll initially be very expensive (starting at $10,000), but they will be available — and believe me, prices will fall once these products begin to ship. I’m also excited to see (or not see) the TVs with transparent screens that Samsung is expected to showcase, and am looking forward to the unveiling of larger screens that make better use of Ultra HD resolutions, which create eye-popping displays for TVs more than 80 inches across.

Apple’s highly anticipated TV should also premiere in 2013, but not at CES. I do think we’ll see some interesting developments with Intel’s virtual cable TV service as well as continued expansion of streaming content — thanks to last month’s FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order, a single cable box will soon be able to stream to several TVs and devices throughout the home.

I’m an entrepreneur, so for me, one of the most exciting parts of CES will be the more than 100 startup companies in attendance. I’m really interested in seeing Sensory Acumen’s GameSkunk product, which is aspiring to be the gaming world’s answer to Smell-O-Vision. It’s a really cool gaming extension: when you see fire in your video game, you’ll immediately smell smoke. Fall down, then you’ll smell the flowers.

As you can tell, for tech geeks like me, CES is previewing heaven. The only thing that will be able to top it is next year’s showcase.

Mark Tebbe donated his fee for writing this column to The Field Museum.

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