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CES 2008: Gaming gear

Preview of what's to come in games and gaming gear at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show.

Excited to see all the latest and greatest video game products at the 2008 International Consumer Electronics Show? Don't be. New and noteworthy gaming products will be few and far between.

Unfortunately, CES just isn't a big show for gamers. You might think the world's largest consumer electronics expo would have plenty of stuff for remote-waggling, button-mashing misfits like myself, but that simply isn't the case. Virtually every games-only company from Nintendo to Electronic Arts steers clear of Las Vegas in early January, saving their news for GDC, E3, and the various other shows and events that come in the spring and summer.

Best of CES: Alienware Area-51 m9750 CNET Networks

CES won't be completely devoid of gaming content, though. While nearly all major game developers will be conspicuously absent, you can expect a solid amount of spillover from the big two: Sony and Microsoft. While actual game news tends to be minimal, both giants tend to use CES to highlight the broader consumer applications of their respective gaming consoles. Sony will continue to tout the PS3's Blu-ray compatibility and upcoming Second Life-like PlayStation Home service, while Microsoft will highlight the Xbox 360's ever-improving media-center capabilities.

If PC gaming is your thing, the news is a bit better. New graphics cards and faster CPUs are often CES mainstays, and there's always the chance that a fearsome gaming desktop or supercharged laptop may make the rounds.

Even if there won't be much new information about the games themselves, CES should at least show off a ton of the equipment with which you play games. From mainstream accessory makers like Logitech and Nyko, to niche players offering specialty rigs such as full-on flight simulator cockpits and Wii-style motion control cameras for PCs, there will be plenty of accessories and peripherals on display.

Peripherals notwithstanding, gamers will be better served at CES by investigating upgrades to their home theater setups. With a ton of HDTVs, surround-sound systems, and other equipment for hooking up a sweet gamer's pad, it'll be a good show for scoping out into what exactly you'll be connecting your Wii, PS3, or Xbox 360 next year.

Where are they now?
The prototype wowed us at CES, and when the Alienware Area 51 m9750 hit the CNET Labs almost eight months later, it didn't disappoint. With a 17-inch screen, twin Nvidia GeForce Go 7950GTX SLI video cards, and an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, the m9750 was a gamer's dream--all for a base price that wasn't much more than the competing Dell XPS model.