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Consumer Electronics Show 2012: Ultrabooks, smart TVs and waterproof gadgets

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off this morning in Las Vegas, with the world's thinnest laptop and the first Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich television among the first new products to be unveiled.

Ces 2012 worlds thinnest smartphone huaweiEnlarge
The Huawei Ascend P1 S mobile phone (L) is displayed during Press Day Events at the annual Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 9, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Frederic J. Brown/Antler)

The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) got underway in Las Vegas this morning, giving the first glimpse of some of the biggest new tech products of the year.

The official launch isn't until tomorrow, but most major product announcements are expected at today's press events.

According to the Telegraph, early debuts included the first ever television to run Google's Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system, the K91 Smart TV by Lenovo, and several of the thinnest devices yet created: Acer's Aspire S5 "ultrabook," which at 15 milimeters thick claims to be the world's thinnest laptop; the Huawei Ascend P1 S smartphone, 6.68mm thick; and a 4mm-thick TV set by LG.

Ultrabooks – super slim, light laptops in the style of Apple's MacBook Air – will be a major feature of this year's CES, according to Wired, with around 30 to 50 models expected from Acer, Toshiba, Dell, HP and others.

Other trends to look out for, as picked by the Washington Post:

  • Cleaner, smarter cars: companies including Ford, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz are expected to show off greener-energy vehicles and more advanced ways of connecting cars with smartphones.
     
  • Smart TVs: several manufacturers have partnered with Google and will add search, apps and web video functions to TV sets. LG has already announced plans for voice-controlled remotes and a "3D gesture-control interface," according to The Telegraph.
     
  • New smartphones: several new 4G devices are set for release, including Google Android phones from Sony and Windows Phone-based versions from Nokia.
     
  • More varied tablets: more companies are seeking to enter the still-maturing tablet market with a greater range of screen sizes and special features. Microsoft will also present the version of its Windows 8 operating system that will run on tablets, the Guardian reported.

Meanwhile, among the quirkier gadgets the BBC spotted at yesterday's preview event were a heat-resistant tablet designed for use in the kitchen, Qooq; an app from Sculpteo that turns photos into 3D ceramic sculptures; the Escort social network for motorists, which warns drivers where to find speed cameras or police laser guns; and Liquipel's "nano-coating," designed to make electronic devices waterproof.

CES continues until Friday, with exhibits from 2,700 companies – but notably not Apple. Microsoft has announced plans to withdraw after this year, with chief executive Steve Ballmer due to deliver a farewell keynote speech this evening.

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