CES: Cool Consumer Electronics, But When Do the Markdowns Start?

VIDEO: Samsung shows ultra thin TV sets that have voice controls and a video camera.

Justin Timberlake appears at CES to promote Panasonic. David Becker/Getty Images

The companies at the Consumer Electronics Show are showing their wares today, hoping their ultrabook or smartphone or camera will win you over. Organizers say there are 3,100 exhibitors (the pre-show estimate was 2,800), all trying to stand out from the crowd.

Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest, Justin Timberlake, Will Smith, "Snooki" Polizzi and a lot of other celebrities (including including some you've probably never heard of) are there to help jazz things up.

Some of the emerging themes so far:

  • Thinner, smarter TVs, with Internet connections, better controls and crisper pictures.  Many companies are trying to make sales now - before the much-rumored Apple TV comes, if it ever does.
  • Featherweight laptops.  Apple started this trend too, with the MacBook Air.  Now there's a range of them - thin, light and fast, since they have flash memory instead of hard drives, and do downloads instead of DVDs.
  • New tablets.  Sure, Apple's iPad dominates the field, along with Amazon's Kindle Fire and the Barnes & Noble Nook, but many companies are betting there will be room for more.

Let's say you see something that really strikes your fancy.  When to get the best price?  Dealnews.com ("Where every day is Black Friday") sent a list of how long to wait for bargains. The theme is … be patient.

A few of their key points:

  • TV sets announced at CES "could be 33 to 50 percent cheaper come October."
  • Ultrabooks: "Wait until this summer."  Better yet, wait until Black Friday if you can.  Sure, technology moves quickly, but today's laptops are already plenty powerful.
  • Tablets: If new models (everyone's talking about a Windows 8 tablet from Microsoft) don't catch on quickly, they will be deeply discounted within six months.

It's a tough market out there, and in a tough economy, the pressure will be on to keep prices low.

Of course, if something is announced this week that you'd love but can't afford, Dealnews says the price will really come down … just in time for next year's CES.

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