MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Later this week, the focus of the tech industry will be on Las Vegas. Every January, the industry decamps to Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, or CES. It's the largest showcase for just about anything you can plug into an electrical outlet or sync with your wireless.

NPR's Laura Sydell is headed there tomorrow, and before she gets on a plane, she's joining us from San Francisco to talk about what's coming up at CES. And, Laura, what are you most looking forward to checking out at CES this year?

LAURA SYDELL: Well, besides the robot that does massage, which should be really exciting...

(Soundbite of laughter)

SYDELL: You know, one of the things they're having a special section devoted to: Internet-connected appliances. So, you know, your refrigerator could talk to your Facebook page. I think, more importantly, what they're ultimately aiming for with some of these appliances is, for example, you could have a dryer that would let the grid know and the grid would talk back to you. There'd be a conversation and basically it could say, this is a peak time to run your dryer. This is a time when, you know, the grid would prefer it. Things like that.

Or it could let you know, for example, if you were out of milk. Things like that. So, that's something I'm looking forward to. I think that's all kind of interesting and exciting and futuristic and new.

BLOCK: Laura, let's talk about somebody who will not be at CES this year -that's Apple. They don't go to tradeshows. They do their own thing. But we're all keeping in mind the huge success of the Apple iPad. They sold, what, 7.5 million iPads in the first six months that it was on the market. That's just before the holiday shopping season. So, what kind of competition do you think Apple will be getting for its iPad coming out of CES?

SYDELL: Quite a lot. What Apple proved is that there's a real category for this. A lot of people are really interested in it. So you're going to see tons of tablets. You saw some last year, you know, it was a big deal. But now everybody knows they've taken off. But what you will see that'll be great is you're going to see tablets that have cameras on them. So there'll be a camera maybe for taking a picture. There will also be a camera for doing a video chat. Pretty much every manufacturer is coming out with tablets this year.

And you're going to have some with an Android operating system. Microsoft is going to announce its Windows 7 is going to be used now for tablets. So tablets will be everywhere.

BLOCK: What about, Laura, what's new in the world of television? What kinds of advances in the world of TV are we looking at?

SYDELL: You know, overall I would say that this year you're not going to see anything fabulously new. It's all incremental. So last year we saw 3D TV. We're going to see more 3D TV. Last year we saw Internet connected TV, we're going to see more Internet connected TV. The hope is that Google is going to be there with Google TV. But Google has kind of pulled out, so that's taken a little bit of the wind out of the sails of the Internet connected TV.

Still, probably within the next five years, about 50 percent of televisions are going to be connected to the Internet in one form or another. Right now what you're largely seeing is kind of, you know, here's an app for movies or an app for Yahoo or things like that. So, it's not like a direct connection. And, of course, more and more HDTVs. And every year it's, like, which television is the biggest television? You'll see all that kind of stuff.

BLOCK: Now, last year, Laura, CES was a little more subdued because of the down economy, what's it looking like this year in terms of scale and how bullish people are feeling about tech?

SYDELL: It's looking good. This year, clearly the economy is recovering and you're seeing that at CES. So there's going to be 1.6 million square feet of display space there. And that's kind of a record. And I'm thinking, all right, get on my comfortable shoes 'cause I'm going to be doing a lot of walking looking at all those gadgets this year.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: OK, Laura, have a good time.

SYDELL: All right, thanks so much.

BLOCK: That's NPR's Laura Sydell, who is headed tomorrow to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.

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