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Seven Top Gadgets/Tech at CES

Stocks in this article: MSFT INTC MMI RIMM

5. From Sierra Wireless (SWIR): the Tri-Network Hotspot (TNH) on Sprint (S). It combines the EVDO and WiMAX capabilities of its predecessor device with LTE on 1900 MHz, which becomes available in at least the first four cities no later than June 2012. That's when this device is expected to become available in retail.

As with the competing Novatel MiFi on Verizon, the Sierra Wireless TNH also offers a much-needed doubling in battery size, to something in the 3,000-3,500 mAh range. Again, kudos to Sierra Wireless, Novatel and for that matter also Motorola for recognizing that most consumers will happily take a thicker and heavier device if the additional weight and size are devoted to a more capable battery.

6. From Intel: The PC chip giant showed its low-power chip for smartphones and tablets, and it announced deals with Motorola and Lenovo. Very little specifics in terms of U.S.-versions are known at this point, but the first products should hit some market such as China by approximately midyear 2012. I would be very surprised if Motorola doesn't offer at least an Intel smartphone or two -- and for that matter a tablet -- by November 2012. Well before that time, of course, Motorola will simply be a division of Google, unless the current acquisition plan changes.

The significance of the Intel announcements for smartphones and tablets may be of great importance to the long-term prospects of companies such as Nvidia (NVDA), Texas Instruments (TXN) and Qualcomm (QCOM), who are the main competitors, with Marvell (MRVL) also having a toe in this space. Either way, Intel's performance demos with its reference device were extremely impressive. Time will tell.

On the Ultrabook side, Intel's many partners showed laptops that will become available in stages from February to September. I thought the most attractive one was from Dell (DELL), but good devices from Samsung, Acer, Lenovo and others were also shown.

7. From Microsoft (MSFT): AT&T is bringing two LTE smartphones based on Windows Phone 7.5 to market over the next few short months: one from HTC and the other from Nokia (NOK). I would be shocked if others are far behind, including obviously Samsung, but perhaps also LG and Dell.

These new Microsoft LTE smartphones from HTC and Nokia now have a chance to show that they can produce better battery life than the Android LTE smartphones in the market today. Apple and RIM have yet to launch LTE versions of the iPhone and BlackBerry, respectively, but they're expected to do so by year-end 2012. Microsoft may be as much as six months ahead of Apple and BlackBerry on this achievement!

(I already pointed out in this article that I believe Microsoft's smartphone position exiting 2012 will be a lot better than it was entering 2012.)

At the time of publication, the author was long AAPL, GOOG, QCOM and RIMM.

Anton Wahlman was a sell-side equity research analyst covering the communications technology industries from 1996 to 2008: UBS 1996-2002, Needham & Company 2002-2006, and ThinkEquity 2006-2008.
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