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What's Next For Personal Technology?

It comes as a shock to no one (except, possibly, for a handful of stubborn computer manufacturers) that PCs are, for practical purposes, a thing of the past. Old-fashioned laptops won't be far behind. Last year, Microsoft tried to overhaul Windows for these new generations of computing platforms and products. They've has limited success. So, Redmond engineers are hard at work with a Windows update to help fix what's wrong. Windows 8.1 is expected to be released later this year.

Apple is also trying to offer the right combination of features to keep interest high for their laptops and desktops. On Monday, Apple announced the next big upgrade for OS X, the increasingly popular desktop/laptop operating system. Basically, version 10.9 (Mavericks) will add a number of features similar to what's offered in iOS, Apple's mobile operating system.

It's a fact. Tablets are the new laptops. And, as tablets get cheaper and cheaper (Asus has just announced an upcoming, 7-inch tablet with a starting retail price of $129) manufacturers' profit margins will decline as well.

So, what is the next? The hot items, these days, seem to be wearable computing devices (such as exercise-based, watch-like computers or the much heralded Google (GOOG - Get Report) Glass. There is also a lot of industry-generated news being released concerning advanced computing devices for car dashboards (as announced by GM, BMW, and others).

But, there are already concerns being voiced about both new types of mobile computers. Drivers talking on cell phones is bad enough. Now, there are warning about additional distracting electronic devices interfering with a driver's concentration. And, it's not just drivers at risk. Google Glass fans must be aware that performing relatively simple tasks - maybe crossing a street or cooking - while using the device might cause problems. Some are suggesting restrictive laws must be passed now to avoid future tragedies.

If some big, new product is on the horizon we might hear about it by the end of the month. The industry is holding their annual, mid-year event called CE Week here in New York, the week of June 24th. Hopefully, someone will be showing something that will excite.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

>To submit a news tip, send an email to:
Gary Krakow is TheStreet's senior technology correspondent.
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