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What's the Next Big Thing in Consumer Electronics?
CNBC.com | January 09, 2012 | 12:57 PM EST

Pretty much every year, a big trend emerges from the Consumer Electronics Show . And pretty much every year, it's heralded — at least for a short while — as the next big thing in consumer electronics.

This year, it's shaping up to be Ultrabooks. The problem is: In many ways, the "next big thing" of the last few years hasn't really been all that big.

The buzz at CES was 3D TV two years ago, but that's still struggling to find an audience. Tablet computers were deemed the "it" last year, but beyond Amazon's Kindle and Barnes & Noble's Nook (which were both out long before CES), eReaders quickly died out. And Apple's iPad (which wasn't a part of CES ) has greatly overshadowed most of its competition.

Will Ultrabooks underwhelm this year? It's too early to say, but some analysts think it's going to be a while before we see a new technology or advancement that lives up to the hype.

"I'm not sure if I expect to see a wholly new product emerge this year," says Ben Arnold, director of industry analysis for consumer tech at NPD. "Reading the tea leaves, I feel like a lot of the focus will be on improving the stuff that's already out there."

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