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Two Stories To Watch: High Def And Motion

You never know what you'll see when the CES officially opens Monday, but there are two stories I'm looking forward to investigating as the crowds hit the floor.

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First off, there's the state of the struggle between Toshiba, with its HD DVD high-def disc format, and Sony's rival Blu-ray format. The latter electronics titan revealed sales numbers Sunday that showed strong momentum for Blu-ray. But word on the street is that Toshiba hasn't given up the fight yet. Both companies will have a big presence in Las Vegas this year, and it's going to be downright fun—and for investors, downright instructive—to dissect just where the HD DVD vs. Blu-ray fight is going.

There's another, less discussed battlefield between Toshiba and Sony that happens to be in town this week, and I'll be exploring that one too: the AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, which overlaps CES by two days.

The adult movie industry is credited by some with settling the videotape format wars of the 1980s once and for all when it sided with VHS over Betamax. (Sony lost that fight, by the way.) Will the porn business be the deciding factor between Blu-ray and HD DVD as well? I'll be looking into it.

Also at CES this year-- just as manufacturers large and small are following the lead of Appleand the iPhone by debuting gizmos with touch screen interactivity and super-clean design, others this year are trotting out electronics that incorporate motion-based controllers similar to Nintendo's massively successful Wii gaming system.

GestureTek, Hillcrest and other manufacturers in Las Vegas are touting "gesture-based" controllers and "motion control-based" systems. If you've got kids who love their Wii—or if you're a grownup addicted to your own—then you know how much fun it is to "throw" a bowling ball on a screen rather than point-and-click with a joystick and buttons. And there are signs that some of these new entrants are going to take Nintendo's revolutionary concept into new realms beyond the world of gaming. Stay tuned.

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