2009 Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show wrap-up

Super-thin LED TVs, micro-notebooks, 3D TVs, gadgets, gizmos and superstars like Diana Ross and Akon… on the face of it, there was no sign of the economic slowdown at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

More than 2,700 companies from around the world, including 300 new exhibitors, unveiled an estimated 20,000 new products at CES, one of the world’s biggest consumer technology trade shows.

Yes, there was a little more elbow room for attendees, with visitor numbers down an estimated 20,000 to about 110,000, and there weren’t many executives who didn’t touch on the economic crisis in their speeches or conversations with the press, but the buzz was still there as new technologies and products were unveiled and companies put a positive spin on the future.

“We will continue to focus on high quality,” Samsung Senior Vice-President Dr Dongho Shin told Home Entertainment, “but this year we will make more effort to make prices more affordable.” And after conceding that consumer electronics sales are expected to slip 0.6 percent this year, Gary Shapiro, the President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association, said: “More consumer technology business deals start at the International CES than any other event on earth. The success of the 2009 show gives us optimism that innovation will restart the world’s economic engine.”

Innovation like the Palm Pre, a touchscreen smartphone featuring a new operating system – webOS – built from the ground up to be constantly connected to the web. It’s hoped to be an iPhone-killer, and certainly had the more geeky among the attendees drooling. And innovations like these: some of the show’s standouts.

LG LD-GD910 wrist phoneLG LD-GD910 wrist phone: Dick Tracy had a wrist radio in 1946, but it’s taken 63 years for technology to catch up with the cartoon hero in the form of LG’s GD910 – the world’s first market-ready touch watch phone. It’s very easy to use: you just touch the screen, and icons appear for all its functions. The 3.6cm screen turns into a number pad for dialling, and is surprisingly accurate. You can use the phone by holding it half-way between your mouth and ear, but LG recommends using a Bluetooth headset.