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The market for portable digital devices will grow more diverse at next month's International CES, where more portable media players (PMPs) will store HD video, more companies will enter the e-reader market, and more headphone-type portable stereos will feature HD Radio.
Cellular will also turn up at the show, but not always in phones. Cellular will turn up as an embedded feature in new netbooks, smartbooks and e-readers.
In netbooks, at least one new cellphone maker will launch its first cellular-embedded netbook. In smartbooks, Lenovo will show its first cellular-embedded smartbook, which packs Qualcomm's ARM-based 1GHz Snapdragon processor. And at least one semiconductor company will show a reference design smartbook with embedded cellular.
Smartbooks fill a niche between MIDs (mobile Internet devices) and netbooks, run an OS other than Windows (including Android, Chrome OS or Moblin), and are aimed more toward carrier channels, The NPD Group's analyst Ross Rubin said. Their form factors could include clamshells with keyboards, touchscreen tablets and screens with slide-out keyboards.
In e-readers, more suppliers will enter the market in addition to the previously announced Plastic Logic, Entourage and iRiver unveilings planned for Las Vegas.
Plastic Logic is expected to put a price on the much-anticipated Que e-reader, whose lightweight, plastic screen will be the industry's largest, the company claimed. Barnes & Noble will sell the 3G- and Wi-Fi-equipped Que in its stores next year and provide the back-end e-bookstore.
Skiff, a Hearst spin-off, said it might show a new e-reader along with a partner at CES, and Entourage will show one of the first e-reader/netbook combination devices.
In portable navigation devices, suppliers may show some interesting feature add-ons to a GPS device beyond the classic embellishments of traffic updates and wireless data access.
In portable audio, dealers will find: at least two more PMPs with embedded FM HD Radio tuner to join the ZuneHD. more PMPs that store HD video, including at least two new models that store 720p video, just like the ZuneHD. at least two more HD Radio add-ons to an iPhone and iPod Touch. two radio-only headphone portables that will be the first portable models to incorporate AM tuners.