Highlights and flameouts from the CES gadget extravaganza

By Julianne Pepitone, staff reporter


LAS VEGAS (CNNMoney) -- My heels are bleeding, I haven't eaten a real meal in four days, and I can't fit all my swag in my suitcase -- but such is a typical end to the Consumer Electronics Show.

As the massive gadget extravaganza winds down in Las Vegas, clear winners and losers have emerged. Motorola Mobility (MMI) was the talk of the floor with its high-tech Atrix 4G phone and Xoom tablet, while Verizon disappointed with its keynote.

The real sparkle of CES, though, is the gadgets strewn around the 1.6 million square feet of exhibit space (hence my cracked heels). Again, mixed results here.

Samsung dazzled with its Sliding tablet; the pretty little device looks like a netbook, then the screen slides over the keyboard to look like a tablet. On the flip side, I also saw silly infomercial-esque products like the VibaBody Slimmer, on which people stand and literally do nothing while a machine shakes them.

As the 140,000 CES attendees start to pack up, Motorola Mobility is still the talk of Sin City. The CES audience cheered loudly during the Thursday demo of the Atrix, which is a super-souped-up smartphone with a dual-core chip set. It fits into a dock and serves as the engine for a netbook or laptop running Android. The company also offered a sneak peek at the upcoming Xoom tablet, another Android gadget. All in all, it's been a good week for Motorola Mobility, which spun off from Motorola and went public on Tuesday.

But appearances by other smartphone makers were a letdown. Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) CEO Ivan Seidenberg gave a snoozy keynote speech about innovation and collaboration in the industry. But on Friday, the company sent a bright-red invitation to a press event next week in New York City that looks likely to be the long-awaited unveiling of a Verizon iPhone.

I overheard many people grumbling about how silly it was for Verizon to wait a few days rather than make the big announcement at CES. But Apple is famously controlling about any product unveiling it's involved in, and the company historically avoids CES.

The Verizon keynote did have one bright spot: An Android developer came out to demo the first look at Honeycomb, the upcoming tablet-optimized version of Android. With tablet makers like Toshiba waiting until the release of Android 3.0 to unleash their devices, the audience greeted the preview with a sigh of relief.

The ever-entertaining but long-winded Steve Ballmer continued the trend of overly long keynote speeches. The CEO of Microsoft made some minor announcements around the Kinect motion-sensor gaming platform and said a lot of nothing about the Windows Phone 7. He also repeated a presentation from earlier in the day that previewed a new, tablet-optimized version of Windows under development.

Some of the Kinect talk was interesting, with the highlight coming when a Steve Ballmer avatar appeared on the screen and gave a short speech. In the upcoming Avatar Kinect chat service, Xbox Live users can have their avatars meet up and chat in one of 15 virtual settings. It will launch this spring and be free for paid Xbox Live members, Ballmer said.

After his virtual-self was finished talking, Ballmer came out and wiggled his eyebrows like his avatar -- which made the audience (including me) roar. It sounds weird on paper, but it was oddly an endearing moment that will stay with me. Much like these soon-to-be scars on my heel. To top of page

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