Think your high-definition TV is hot stuff — as sharp as it gets? At the biggest trade show in the Americas, which kicks off next week in Las Vegas, TV makers will be doing their best to convince you that HDTVs are old hat, and should make room for Ultra HDTV.
It's the latest gambit from an industry struggling with a shift in consumer spending from TVs, PCs and single-purpose devices such as camcorders to small, portable do-it-all gadgets: smartphones and tablets. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that device shipments to U.S. buyers fell 5 percent in dollar terms last year excluding smartphones and tablets, but rose 6 percent to $207 billion if you include those categories.
The trends suggest that the International CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) is losing its stature as a start-of-the-year showcase for the gadgets that consumers will buy over the next 12 months. It started out as a venue for the TV and stereo industries. Later, PCs joined the party.
But over the last few years, TVs and PCs have declined in importance as portable gadgets have risen and CES hasn't kept pace. It's not a major venue for phone and tablet launches, though some new models will likely see the light of day there when the show floor opens on Tuesday. The biggest trendsetter in mobile gadgets industry, Apple Inc., stays away, as it shuns all events it doesn't organize itself.
Apple rival Microsoft Corp. has also scaled back its patronage of the show.
None of this seems to matter much to the industry people who go to the show, which is set to be bigger than ever, at least in terms of floor space.