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Consumer Electronics Show Debuts Latest 'Must Have' Gadgets

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) unveiled the latest electronic products this week in Las Vegas. The annual trade show has become a major event for the electronics industry since the show's debut four decades ago. For high tech junkies, the exhibition is a chance to see the newest technological marvels that could change the way we live and work.

Forty years ago, consumer electronics meant two categories: transistor radios and TV's. CES President Gary Shapiro says today an area the size of 30 football fields showcases the latest products, from high definition TV's, leopard skin laptops, to interactive video game furniture.

"Now, the average American family owns 26 consumer electronics products and they spend almost $1500 a year buying them," says Shapiro.

The good news is that some prices are coming down. A 60-inch [152 centimeters] plasma screen TV is now available for under $3,000.

And for $1,500, John Taylor at LG Electronics says his company has the solution to end the war between the next generation of competing DVD formats. "The first player in the world that plays both Blue Ray and HD-DVD. What does that mean? It means the format war is over."

Despite the rival technologies, the show's theme focuses on the "connected lifestyle". Microsoft founder and CES keynote speaker Bill Gates says what that means is technology that allows digital content, from movies to e-mail, to follow consumers wherever they go.

"Our ambition is to give you connected experiences 24 hours a day,” said the Microsoft CEO. “We admit that when you're sleeping we haven't quite figured out what we're going to do for you there, but the rest of the time, the minute you get in the kitchen to look at that refrigerator, pick up your phone, hear the alarm clock tell you about the traffic, whatever it is, we want you to have the information that you're interested in."

And interest was extremely high for Steve Job's latest offering. On Tuesday, Apple Computer's CEO unveiled two new gadgets. One is a video box called Apple TV, touted as a bridge between computers, Internet and television sets.

The other is a device dubbed the i-Phone, described as part i-Pod and part cell phone, without the number keys. "We have invented a new technology called multi-touch and it works like magic," he said.

Jobs calls the hybrid phone revolutionary but some consumer experts doubt Apple's i-Phone can rival the success of the iconic i-Pod.