Best of CES: Which items made the biggest splash in Vegas?

A group gathers to watch an UltraHD 3D display at the LG booth. (Eric Pfeiffer/Yahoo News)

An estimated 150,000 attendees flocked to Las Vegas for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show. And over the course of the week, they traversed nearly 2 million square feet and more than 3,000 exhibition booths– all at the Las Vegas Convention Center and at several nearby hotels.

With so much to see, it’s hard to pick a traditional list of “winners and losers” from this year’s offerings. But we’ve selected some of our favorite findings and broken them down into five categories: TVs, phones, games, computers and fitness.

In TVs, this year was all about 4K, OLED and Ultra-HD, offering visually stunning images on monster screens with four times the definition of the standard HD TVs. Samsung, Sony and LG all had impressive offerings. Samsung came into CES with huge expectations this year and the early reaction indicates it did not disappoint, particularly with its 85-inch 4K TV. A few companies, including Toshiba, also marched out gargantuan 115-inch models but these are not expected to make it from the CES showroom floor into the consumer’s living room anytime soon.

For computers, a 20-inch tablet built by Panasonic definitely caught the public’s eye. There were also some impressive (if normal sized) notebooks on display, including Toshiba’s UltraHD notebook, running Windows 8. In fact, CES 2013 seems to have been a great showcase for devices running on Windows 8, even though Microsoft scaled back its corporate presence at the show, deciding to not promote the operating system directly.

As a general rule, advancements in technology tend to result in smaller sized products for the masses. Computers that once filled IBM warehouses now fit in the average consumer’s pocket. But along with the 20-inch tablet, there appears to be a shift toward “bigger is better” – at least in the world of smart phones.

One of the terms being thrown around with reckless abandon at CES was the “super phone." Characteristics include a large screen, powerful battery life and cutting edge display capabilities. Two Chinese companies (Huawei and ZTE) made bold moves at CES with their super phones in a bid to become competitors in the U.S. market. Huawei’s 6.1-inch screen Ascend Mate may not catch fire with U.S. buyers, but both companies achieved their goal of catching the eyes of CES attendees. As to companies that already have a foothold in the U.S. market, Sony’s Xperia Z Android phone has been winning rave reviews from the tech savvy crowd.

The gaming industry faces some interesting options in 2013. This is the final year of the Xbox 360, with the industry already bracing for the impact of Microsoft’s forthcoming gaming console. And Nintendo is already on the market with its new system, the Wii U. But there were some fascinating console options on display in Las Vegas. The Razer Edge gaming tablet was voted in by CNET editors and readers as the best product on display at the entire show this year. Unlike like the Wii, the Edge will be targeted at hardcore gamers, with a initial price point of $999 and with more expensive versions available as well when it makes its expected debut in the first quarter of 2013.

And finally, what electronics show would be complete without a focus on personal health? Not a joke-- there were several items targeting the fitness community online and off. Some items seemed to fit more comfortably into a more niche market, like the vibrating fork, a device that vibrates when you're eating too fast.

The FitBit Flex, and its promise of 24-hour health monitoring, drew impressive and curious reviews. The device fits around a wrist and tracks fitness habits and sleeping patterns. With a selling price of $99.95, it may just prove more appealing than a deflating, routine trip to the doctor’s office.

CES 2013 was bigger and more influential than ever, even as its offerings become less revolutionary. But there still were several gems stashed away amongst the thousands of offerings and plenty hidden in plain sight.

While becoming more mainstream, CES is still the best show in town for product developers hoping to disrupt everyone with their imaginations and new creations.

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