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CES 2013: Consumers will pay big for latest tech products

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Big box retailers around the United States are making room on their shelves to sell the latest and greatest gadgets revealed at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past week. But buyers be warned: It will cost you.

Sony USA, which runs its consumer electronics segment out of Rancho Bernardo, showcased a line of TVs that use 4K, or Ultra HD (UHD), technology and that boast four times the resolution of a standard HDTV.

One of Sony's centerpiece products was a 56-inch 4K OLED prototype TV.

"Looking at the TV made me smile," said Gary Peterson, president of market research firm Gap Intelligence. "It's amazing to see that screen and what they come up with."

San Diego-based Gap Intelligence, which calls Sony, Dell and Samsung clients, sent a team of analysts to Las Vegas who track camera, TV, tablet/e-reader, laptop and desktop products for a living.

On their to-do list was to check out 2013 product launches. Gap's job is to provide information intelligence to manufacturers, resellers and industry players within the information technology and consumer electronics industries.

With the release of Sony's new line of 4K TVs, that means letting them know on a weekly basis what the competitive landscape is like, including what other 4K TVs are being sold at what stores and at what price points.

"CES acts as an opportunity to get all clients under one roof and be able to rub elbows and meet on an individual basis," Peterson said. "It's mutually beneficial for us to learn about client products in 2013 and share insights on the market."

He said smart TVs were aplenty at CES this year. The Ultra HD TVs are a breath of fresh air that seem to be edging out the 3-D TV trend, he said.

"I believe 3-D is a disaster and something manufacturers were pushing onto consumers. They replaced 3-D, essentially, with this 4K Ultra HD screen," he said.

But getting your hands on the top technology, some of which is on the market, comes with a big price tag. At $14,000 apiece for an Ultra HD TV, Peterson suggests bringing a thick checkbook at checkout.

"We probably won't see those TVs come down below the $3,000 price tag until at least three to four years from now," he said.

Of course, there are some cons to a having such a clear and vivid picture.

"If I was a TV news anchor I'd be terrified. Every wrinkle and crow's foot is exposed," he said.

Samsung also threw its hat in the Ultra HD ring, unveiling an 85-inch TV this week with a "floating" design. A price has not yet been disclosed, though analysts are expecting consumers to pay big bucks.

Other products with five-digit price tags on display at CES included Mitsubishi Electric's CyberTouch screen, a monitor that contains multitouch games (such as a puck-free version of air hockey). A paint mode lets users swipe words in cursive with a fingertip that then get translated into text.

Brooklyn-based MakerBot showed off its Replicator 2X Experimental 3D Printer at CES, with sales kicking off Jan. 11.

The printer works by placing down melted plastic, layer by layer, with the ability to work with multiple colors and materials. The complex creations were displayed at the exhibit and included horse heads, human busts and hearts.

Buyers willing to cough up $2,799 for the printer can range from architects to jewelers and toy makers, according to a representative.


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