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Convergence of Consumer Devices

New York Times reports on Data, Music, Video: Raising a Curtain on Future Gadgetry -- The flat-panel televisions will be getting bigger, the MP3 players and cellphones will be getting smaller. And almost everything will be getting cheaper.

But the biggest trend expected at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which begins this week in Las Vegas, is that these machines will be communicating with one another. The theme of this year's show might best be described as Convergence: This Time We Mean It.

For more than a decade, manufacturers of consumer electronics like televisions and audio gear have talked about blending their products with personal computers, so that consumers can enjoy a seamless stream of data, video and music anywhere. It has not happened, because the two industries do not have compatible technology standards and the requisite high-speed Internet connections have not been widespread enough.

This year all that changes, say executives who will be introducing new products at the show. They say that consumers will finally be able to sling images and sound wirelessly around a room or an entire house. The major electronics makers will be showing TV's with computer capabilities and phones that will play video and music, as well as the next generation of digital recording and storage devices.

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