VentureBeat's top gadgets from CES 2011: Atrix, Xoom, PlayBook and more

With this year’s Consumer Electronics Show behind us, it’s time to take a look back and reflect on what stood out the most. There were plenty of tablets, phones, computers and other gadgets at the show, but only a few were truly memorable. This year we saw a phone that turned into a smartbook, RIM’s miraculous comeback, a PC competitor to the Macbook Air and more.

The top trends of the Consumer Electronics Show (poll)

The good thing about braving the crowds at the Consumer Electronics Show is that you get to see a lot of the future’s gadgets. And if you see the same thing over and over again, that’s a trend. Last year, every TV maker embraced 3D and web connectivity. That trend continued this year with more than half of all new TV models including those features. This year, we’ve sniffed out similar trends that could play out throughout 2011 as companies execute on their grand ambitions:

The spectacle of CES in pictures (photo gallery)

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas ended yesterday with a bang, not a whimper. Drawing more than 140,000 attendees to the Las Vegas Convention Center, the show was back to its pre-recession size. More than a trade show, CES has become a spectacle. Each of the 2,700 vendors tried to outdo the others, with bigger booths, splashy tech gear, and marketing tricks such as giveaways and booth babes. Here’s a sample of the show’s scenery, from beginning to end. Our top photo shows off the beauty of Microsoft’s newest Surface touchscreen table, which will be built by Samsung and sold for $7,600. The hands belong to Microsoft’s Surface exec, Chip Wood.

Microsoft gives LCDs the power to see with Surface 2.0

Microsoft’s Surface touchscreen technology for large displays has shed a lot of bulk in its newest iteration, and in the process it has also given liquid-crystal displays — the ubiquitous screens used in everything from laptops and smartphones to smart TVs — the power to see with its new PixelSense technology.

Microsoft demos future Windows version running on Intel and ARM chips (video)

Microsoft said earlier today that its future version of Windows will run on chips based on ARM’s chip architecture. In front of a huge crowd at the Consumer Electronics Show, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer showed once again that the software worked fine on test systems based on chips from Intel, Qualcomm (Snapdragon), Texas Instruments, and Nvidia (Tegra 2).

AT&T's 4G LTE network coming mid-2011 with 20 devices by year end

AT&T finally spilled the beans on the plans for its next-generation network at its Developer Summit today, an event held in conjunction with the giant Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The company says that it expects to launch its 4G network using LTE technology by the middle of the year; it just completed the deployment of its slightly-faster HSPA+ network (which AT&T also considers “4G”).

Intel CEO: New chip will spur $125B in 2011 PC sales

Intel chief executive Paul Otellini said today that Intel’s newest  chip will generate $125 billion in revenue this year for PC makers. The chip, codenamed Sandy Bridge, combines graphics and general computing functions; it will account for an estimated one third of Intel’s total sales this year and has been designed into more than 500 computer models.

Gadget megatrend: From one mobile market to many

For the longest time, mobile devices came in clear, separate categories: laptops, phones, handheld game players, and music players. But with the arrival of smartphones, tablets, and smarter everyday gadgets, the market is exploding, mixing together, and fragmenting into different subsectors.