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CES gadgets, 4K TV, and can Polaroid reinvent itself in the digital era?

A Polaroid lens adapter for an iPhone is displayed during the 2013 International CES on January 8, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For the last two years, it was like ketchup. TV manufacturers kept pouring the two letters "3D" over much of their product lines, hoping consumers wouldn't mind the silly eyeglasses required and would love the images that would pop from the screen. This year at the International Consumer Electronics Show, TV manufacturers are pushing Ultra High Definition flat panels that provide sharp images even when the screen is seven feet across. They call 'em "4K" TV's because one of the frame's dimensions is about 4,000 or 4K pixels long. But 3D? Well, it's still available, says Dana Wollman, senior reviews editor at the tech publication Engadget who spoke to us from the CES convention floor.

"I have seen some 3D's but the 3D aspect of it really seems like an afterthought. 4K is one of the driving themes of this show. Every company that is known for making TV's is coming out with a 4K TV," says Wollman.

A couple of devices at CES that caught our attention.  A fob for your keychain that sends an alert when you're walking away from your smartphone so you don't leave it in a taxi or restaurant. Or iPotty, a training system for youngsters with an iPad dock built-in to the potty. Or Snapgrip:  A hard case for an iPhone that gives the camera built into the phone the feel of a dedicated point and shoot camera.


Digital camera are instant gratification on a stick. You can see the shot right away. Just like the old Polaroids. Remember them, from the pre-digital era?  Polaroid film came with a built in capsule of chemicals that would develop the shot in seconds. What ever happened to those folks? We caught up with Polaroid's CEO Scott Hardy who is at the electronics show and he's sounding quite au courant.

"Polaroid was the original social network. You know, people would take a photograph and then they would share it instantly. If you look at how people take pictures today, the main benefit of taking pictures on your cellphone is being able to immediately post them and upload them to your favorite social network," says Hardy. "And the sad part is, there are billions of photos taken everyday, but many of those photos, once they are uploaded, they disappear. And what we're interested in is finding those works of art, finding those shots that people are proud of, true treasures that have the sentimental value, and giving the consumer an easy way to output those photographs onto works of art."
 
All right, if Polaroid is still cutting edge, what's showing off in Las Vegas?  Among other things, a camera, that's really a handheld computer with attachable lenses.

"It has the Android 4.1 Jelly Bean operating system. And the benefit of that is sharing because now you can download your favorite photography apps and be able to use those on the camera itself. And so you can take a picture, edit the picture real time, and upload the photo without having to take the image from your camera, transfer it to a computer and upload it, says Hardy. "You get all the benefits and ease of use you get by using a mobile phone, but its built into the camera itself."
 
Samsung and Nikon also have cameras that run on the Android system.

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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