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

The reality, though, has been expensive and hard to install. Advances in control techniques could be a breakthrough, however.

Apple's Siri and Microsoft's Kinect peripheral for the Xbox 360 are opening up new avenues to search for content and control devices, and could be installed in more electronics.

"I can definitely see that working its way into more products, and I think it's in the works," says Arnold. "I would expect to see some of that at this CES and definitely at the 2013 CES. … There are plenty of stories about people hacking Kinect to use with web browsers and such. That's where the energy starts for these sorts of things."

Much of the talk about this year's show has centered around ultrathin laptops. Dubbed "Ultrabooks" by Intel (which is leading the charge for the systems), they measure only 3mm at their narrowest points.

Shawn DuBravac, director of research for the Consumer Electronics Associations, predicts that 30 to 50 Ultrabooks will debut at this year's show — an impressive number for any market. Intel and PC makers hope the systems will offer a competitive alternative to Apple's MacBook Air —and regain some marketshare from the tablet space.

Analysts aren't convinced the laptops will succeed in that last objective.

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