By Andrew Eisner

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Another Year of the Gadget
This past year started out on a high note starting with the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show that highlighted bigger, better, and cheaper HDTV products, the end of the high definition DVD player format war (Blu-ray won), feature-packed cameras, and all sorts of cool gadgets like Bluetooth headsets and GPS-based Personal Navigation Devices. In fact, you can see Retrevo’s list of 2008 product hits and misses here. Using our new suite of tools including the Retrevo Pulse trend analysis engine, our gadget experts put together this set of predictions for 2009.

HDTV; Bigger, Better, Cheaper
We see LCD panels outpacing Plasma TVs especially with the latest generation from Sony, Sharp and Samsung that appear to have overcome the issues of black levels and blurring with the use of LED backlighting and high refresh rates. We think strong demand and falling prices for mid-sized (42 -47 inch) and larger (more than 52 inch) LCD TVs will help consumers forget about those expensive ski trips and summer vacations they can’t afford to take this year.
Contributing to the strong demand for HDTV is the looming DTV conversion which will provide just the excuse many owners of older sets have been looking for to buy a new TV that will look better and use less energy.

We expect to see OLED TVs be the star attractions at this year’s CES show. We should see them in sizes larger than Sony’s XEL-1, 11 inch OLED TV. Another feature we expect to see more of at this and future shows is 3D TVs that could compete with the growing popularity of movie theater 3D entertainment.

Year of the Blu-ray? Maybe, Maybe Not
This past year high prices and confusion over standards held demand for Blu-ray players in check however, demand has been rising and we expect to see lots of reasonably priced Profile 2.0 players appear on the market selling for under $300 and even much less. Many will add the ability to download movies from online video distributors like Netflix. Stunning Blu-ray DVDs like “Iron Man,” and “Dark Knight,” will help promote sales of players but downloadable or streaming HD movies may make players less of a necessity.

Cameras and Camcorders; All Mixed Up
Point and Shoot cameras should become something of a commodity this year with may full-featured cameras selling for $50 - $150. An interesting trend among point and shoot cameras is the addition of on-board graphics processing along with features like face and smile detection. Things are getting a little mixed up in the camcorder, camera, cell phone, GPS markets with DSLRs (and even compact cameras) becoming camcorders, cell phones becoming cameras, and everything incorporating GPS’ which may themselves start becoming phones.

Photo Frames; Affordable and Personal
We see steady demand for Photo Frames on the Pulse. With more manufacturers adding features like wireless connectivity and audio. We should see lots of activity this year around these affordable, personal products.

Laptops and Netbooks; Less is More
Retrevo has seen steady demand for laptops this whole year. Last year the market was searching for what to call the small communication devices. They tried calling them UMPCs and MIDs but the market seems to resonate with “netbooks,” for these portable communication and media laptops.

Media Centers; One of These Years
Every year we expect to see this product category emerge. We’ve seen wireless media standards and media servers come and go. We will be watching Sony, Microsoft, and Apple among others for activity on this area.

The Year of Retrevo
The collapse of the worldwide economy notwithstanding, this should be a good year for gadgets. Consumers minding tight budgets will spend more time at home watching TV and playing video games.

Don’t forget to look for all your gadget and gear info including manuals and reviews for HDTV, Cameras, GPS, and more at Retrevo.com.

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