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Best in show: 6 gadgets that defined CES

By Peter Svensson

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Jan. 13 2012 1:30 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Jan. 10, 2012 file photo, industry affiliates make photos of the new LG 55-inch OLED television during the 2012 International CES Tradeshow, in Las Vegas. The International Consumer Electronics show gathered more than 140,000 people in Las Vegas this week. These are some of the more significant gadgets that were announced at the show.

Julie Jacobson, File, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Cheaper tablets, thinner laptops and an array of sleeker TVs stood out at this year's International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

More than 140,000 people gathered there this week, for an event that's growing despite the absence of Apple and more recently, the decision by Microsoft to make this the last year it participates.

A bevy of celebrities, including 50 Cent, Will.i.am, and Kelly Clarkson, stopped by to add glitz to the proceedings —but they were hardly the stars of the show. Here are some of the more significant gadgets that shined at CES:

Cheaper tablets — The industry's enthusiasm for tablets was considerably tempered this year compared to last, when more than a hundred manufacturers thought they could capitalize on the iPad's success with their own models based on Google Inc.' Android software. Sales were disappointing, in large part because Apple prices the iPad relatively low compared to the cost of making it. Then, late last year, Amazon.com Inc. demonstrated that you can take on Apple by selling a smaller, barebones tablet for $199. Analysts believe Amazon sold millions of Kindle Fires in little more than a month.

Now, Asian manufacturers are hoping to jump on Amazon's bandwagon. One of those companies, Taiwan's AsusTek Computer Inc., showed off a tablet with a Fire-sized screen and said it would sell it for $249. It's considerably more powerful than the Fire, sporting a premium "quadcore" processor. Still, one of the things that made the Fire a success — Amazon's library of e-books, music and movies — will be missing.

Nokia Lumia 900 — In recent years, the world's largest phone maker, Finland's Nokia Corp., has practically been a no-show in the U.S. market. That's hurt the company badly. Now, it hopes to come back with smartphones that run Microsoft Corp.'s Windows Phone software. The Lumia 900 is its first such phone for the AT&T network, and the first Nokia phone to use AT&T's faster wireless "LTE" network. In a sign of how much is riding on these phones, both the Microsoft and Nokia CEOs showed up for Monday's announcement. The companies didn't announce price or availability. T-Mobile USA, a smaller carrier, started selling a more modest Lumia this week.

Lenovo K800 — While Nokia's been shut out of the U.S. phone market, Intel Corp., the world's largest chipmaker, has been shut out of phones entirely. Its PC chips use too much power to go into a smartphone: they'd drain the battery in no time. That's a big problem for the company, since PC sales are flat in the developed world, while smartphone sales are exploding. Now, Intel says a new line of chips is ready for smartphone use, and Lenovo Corp. of China is the first to take them up on it, with a smartphone to be sold in China in the second quarter. Outwardly, it's indistinguishable from any other touchscreen phone, and it runs Android.

Motorola Mobility, the phone maker that's being bought by Google, also committed to making phones and other devices with Intel chips. Without offering many details, the company said the new devices will be on the market in the second half of the year.

OLED TVs — Both LG and Samsung showed off 55-inch TVs with screens made from organic light-emitting diodes rather than the standard liquid crystals or plasma cells, and said they'll on sale this year. They didn't say what they would cost, but analysts expect the price to be upwards of $5,000.

The sets are long-awaited. OLED TVs have been on the horizon for some time, but they're difficult to manufacture in large sizes. They provide a high-contrast picture with highly saturated colors. They can also be very thin: LG's set is just 4 millimeters thick, or one-sixth of an inch.

Ultrabooks — Intel created the "ultrabook" as a marketing term for thin, light and powerful laptop computers. They're essentially the Windows versions of Apple's MacBook Air. PC makers have embraced the term enthusiastically. As a result, there were scores of ultrabook models on display at the show.

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