NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- It looks like the loonies are loose yet again in consumer electronics.
Is it me, or has this barest of bull equity markets and the tepid demand for initial public offerings brought out the lunatic fringe in consumer tech? It seems like forever ago, but it was just last month that real upside loomed in the consumer gadget. There were legit, value-creating advancements in major platforms such as the Sony PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One. And clever startups were making progress. I liked Carvana's new spin on selling used cars and Medium Machinery's fresh take on desktop manufacturing.
Sadly, that Indian summer of good new ideas is over. At least based on my pre-trip discussions and reading ahead of the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas next week, the rare respite of common tech sense has been lost in a frenzy of dubious new ideas. Beneath the hype for mega-trends such as the connected car, wearable devices and cheaper high-resolution TVs lie some out-there ideas -- including appliances that send text messages and robots that fly paper airplanes.
And it's not like this past holiday shopping season was truly huge. "The final online shopping week saw considerably softer sales than anticipated, including zero billion-dollar spending days," said Gian Fulgoni, chairman at comScore, the Reston, Va. digital data tracking service.That means the truly dubious trends lurking at the 2014 International CES will have plenty of weakness to fester in. Here's what to watch for -- and plan for -- so investors can make it to 2015.