CES: A Really, Really Big Show

New gadgets set to debut

The future is coming, and we're about to get a glimpse.

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicks off in about 48 hours. Las Vegas will be packed with techies, eager to show off all sorts of shiny gadgetry to a public eager to shake off the recession doldrums. This year, according to economists, is expected to be a turnaround time for the economy as a whole. Expect the tech sector to light the fire.

With a touch of irony, the biggest presence at this year's CES will be a company that's not even there. Apple, which has led the league in tablets, apps and smartphones for a couple of years now, will be the leader that other consumer companies follow.  Hold your fanboy comments, because you can't deny that Apple has scored huge with consumers lately, and this, after all, is a show aimed at the consumer.

So, expect lots of tablets, lots of smartphones and a ton of apps. Laptops will get thinner and more powerful for those of you who do business on the road, and the tablet business -- recently said to be a non-starter -- will be in full bloom, as companies like Samsung and Vizio prepare to take on the iPad.

Last year's CES gave us a teasing look into 3D TV. Sales have been tepid so far, but look for more TV sets that do much more than just show you TV. You'll be able to surf, tweet and stream to your heart's content on new TVs -- and yes, there will be plenty of 3D shows and video games on screen as well.

The show, while crowded, chaotic and massive, is also a clear look into what companies have in store for us, the tech-loving consumers. Expect to see more gee-whiz items, as the recession fades into the background, and the consumer comes out of her shell. We'll bring you updates and video several times throughout the day Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, right here, and on twitter (@scottbudman). Let us know if there's anything in particular you want to see.

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