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CES preview: What to watch at this year's gadget show

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Many years in a row, analysts – or at least loud publicists – proclaimed the year of the 3-D had arrived. The third dimension definitely reached theaters in 2009. Four of the 10 top-grossing movies of the year were 3-D titles. And the 3-D sci-fi epic "Avatar" pulled in a billion dollars worldwide in only three weeks. Whether the same trend will invade living rooms remains unknown, but several encouraging signs popped up recently. Last month, the industry group behind Blu-ray finalized plans to let the high-definition discs play 3-D movies. And ESPN will launch a 3-D sports network in June. The new station will air 85 live events before the end of the year. But the problem with bringing home 3-D video is equipment. Both Blu-ray and ESPN will require special TVs and glasses for their 3-D schemes to work. Unless CES 2010 delivers a tech miracle, expect the televisions to be expensive and the glasses bulky.

E-readers seem a safer bet. Amazon's Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook seem to have had a smashing Christmas. The former was's most gifted Christmas product ever, according to the company. And the Nook struggled to keep up with demand – with its current back-order date reaching into early February. (Of course, the apparent drought of Nooks could be due to a slew of orders or a crack in the manufacturing chain.) It's also uncertain how many contenders can fit in the ring at once, especially when the first big e-book device, the Sony Reader, has fought a mostly losing battle for attention.

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