It's the beginning of another year and that means the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and this year is looking like it's going to be one of the biggest ever.
Consumer electronics firms from around the world will showcase the latest offerings in audio, digital imaging, emerging technology, gaming, home theatre, home networking, video, in-vehicle technology and wireless electronics.
The world of consumer electronics can always be divided into two camps: converged and independent.
Essentially there are those who prefer a plethora of electronic gadgetry where each device is tailored to a specific task, and there are those who prefer a single device that performs a variety of functions.
It comes down to a trade-off between performance and usability, and portability, functionality and price, and for each consumer and each device the requirements will vary.
What makes this year's CES particularly interesting is that, with the march of technology continually accelerating, this gap is growing.
Processors are increasingly more powerful and storage is growing in capacity while shrinking physically to power multifunctional devices.
However, there is always the question of usability. When you a design single device trying to perform a number of functions you either have to adorn it with a variety of buttons and options, or create a very clever interface.
This year's CES should provide an interesting insight into where manufacturers see the industry moving, and whether the demand for simpler devices that perform just one task outstrips the desire for a single device that can do just about anything.
Of course there will always be a market for both types of consumer, but this year's show should provide an interesting insight into which side manufacturers are hedging their bets.
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