A Little Less Flash At Annual Gadget Show The Consumer Electronics Show this weekend is the industry's annual showcase where companies hawk their crispest flat-screen TVs, their smartest smartphones and their loudest video games. There's still a lot of that — but the terrible economy is just as much a presence this year as GPS navigators and stereo systems.
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A Little Less Flash At Annual Gadget Show

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A Little Less Flash At Annual Gadget Show

A Little Less Flash At Annual Gadget Show

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DAVID GREENE, Host:

So there's a little less flash in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show this weekend. It's the industry's annual showcase, where companies show off their crispest flat-screen TVs, their smartest smartphones, and all those loud video games. There is still a lot of all that, but the rough economy is just as much a presence this year as the GPS navigators and all the stereo systems. NPR's Laura Sydell has been to the trade show many times in the past, and she joins us now from Las Vegas. Hi, Laura.

LAURA SYDELL: Hello, David.

GREENE: OK. So how is this year different from all these other trade shows you've been to?

SYDELL: So really all you saw was, for example, for a hundred dollars you could get a charger that you could put on your backpack, and it could recharge your phone, or an electric bicycle. So, even that was still pretty low-key. And unfortunately for the industry, this hasn't been a year where they had some kind of big breakthrough.

GREENE: It is not a city that is known for having a low-key side. I mean, I guess this means the electronics industry isn't doing that well. Is it in as bad shape as the rest of the economy?

SYDELL: Well, it isn't as bad as the rest of the economy, but sales were pretty flat over the holiday season. And for an industry that's used to seeing double-digit growth, flat is bad. So there's a lot of concern about that. The kinds of things that were selling were a lot of home electronics because I think a lot of people are getting ready for the digital television transition. And a lot of people are thinking, well, we're not going to go out. We'll stay home and watch TV. So you saw sales there, but nothing stellar this year.

GREENE: Any trends we can talk about in terms of price or gadgetry you're seeing?

SYDELL: I also saw glasses that had a phone in them. So you could be walking along and instead of just having your little Bluetooth headset, you'll be talking into your glasses.

GREENE: Cool, I'm taking notes. I'm going to send you a list of things to bring back.

SYDELL: I will do that.

GREENE: Enjoy the show. And I hope you get a little time out on the strip as well. Thanks a lot. That's NPR's Laura Sydell. She is at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Thanks, Laura.

SYDELL: You're welcome.

GREENE: And there's a lot more about the show on our Web site, npr.org, including a guide to green technology and also, five new ways to listen to music.

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