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Seven Top Gadgets/Tech at CES

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The first half of January, which includes the week of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, is consistently the most exciting time of the year.

At the end of every CES, everyone asks, "What were the most interesting things you saw?"

So here's my list of the top items making it into the market in 2012:

1. From Samsung: the second-generation Chromebook. Samsung's first Chromebook, a laptop based on Google's Chrome operating system, hit the market on June 15. It was a terrific product, but it fell short on general CPU/GPU power, running only a dual-core Atom Intel (INTC - Get Report) processor.

The new Samsung Chromebook version introduced at CES solves this issue. It has a new Celeron CPU that promises to be at least 300% faster than its predecessor.

It also sheds the plastic feel of the original for a more metallic feel, along with approximately 10% of its weight and some thickness. Availability should -- we hope -- be closer to March than July.

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The price should remain where it is today: $450 including two years worth of Verizon (VZ - Get Report) 100 meg/month data service, with the option to add more data on an a la carte basis, as needed, no contract required.

Samsung also showed its desktop version of the Chromebook, now called the Chromebox. This box looks just like Apple's (AAPL) Mac Mini and can feed at least three large monitors, making it suitable for a Wall Street trading desk or a similar work environment. The price is unknown, but is likely to be favorable, especially considering the lack of need for a warranty or tech support for this nothing-can-go-wrong operating system.

2. From Motorola Mobility (MMI - Get Report): the Droid Razr Maxx. Almost every smartphone has a battery life that ranges from terrible to catastrophic. Nine out of 10 people I ask would happily accept a thicker and heavier smartphone if it meant better battery life. Yet we have seen only after-market batteries solving this problem, always without the kind of engineering excellence that an original design affords in terms of packaging efficiency.

Until now.

The Motorola Droid Razr Maxx has a battery capacity of 3,300 mAh, vs. 1,780 for the "regular" Razr. That's pretty much all you need to know. I've found that in regular use, a device of this class will yield on three to four hours of use, so this version of the Razr should last at least six hours. Motorola claims 21 hours worth of talk time, but that's presumably with nothing else going on, so it's not realistic.
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