CUPERTINO, Calif. — It's still officially summer, yet major electronic companies have already announced a slew of holiday gift ideas: iPhones of different colors, video game players and a new category of wristwatches designed to mimic the functionality of smartphones.
Much of the early attention has been on smartwatches. Although the devices have been around for years, consumer interest has been low. Samsung Electronics Co. is hoping to change that with its $300 Galaxy Gear. When it's linked wirelessly with newer Samsung phones and tablets, the Gear lets you set alarm clocks, check email and Facebook updates, and make phone calls on your wrist, secret agent style. The watch will be available in a few weeks in six colors.
The Gear's unveiling came as Qualcomm Inc. said it will start selling its Toq smartwatch before the end of the year. Sony Corp., meanwhile, has an updated SmartWatch 2 device coming. And Apple Inc. is widely believed to be working on an iWatch.
Consumer electronics companies are trying to create a new type of device for people to spend money on. But that doesn't mean companies have given up on phones, tablets, or other gadgets.
Here's a look at what's in store as manufacturers and retailers try to get a jump on the holidays.
Apple is refreshing the look and functionality of its iOS software. Recent phones can get the iOS 7 update for free, starting next Wednesday. The software also comes with the new iPhones going on sale on Sept. 20.
Apple is departing from its practice of keeping choices simple. This time, the company has a regular model, the iPhone 5S (selling for $199 with a two-year service agreement) and a less expensive model, the iPhone 5C (which goes for $99). The 5S comes in three colors and the 5C in five.
Samsung, meanwhile, announced the Galaxy Note 3, the latest phone in a line that comes with a stylus for its 5.7-inch (measured on the diagonal) touch screen. Sony will have the Xperia Z1, notable for its 20.7-megapixel camera and the ability to attach better lenses. Both devices use Google's Android operating system.
Even more devices are expected around this fall's release of a new version of Android, called Kit Kat.
Tablets with screens that measure about 7 inches diagonally are becoming popular because they're cheaper and easier to carry than other full-sized tablets.
Amazon.com Inc. and Google Inc. paved the way with their Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 devices. Apple followed with the iPad Mini last fall.
Google updated its Nexus 7 in July, offering the basic model for $229. Amazon and Apple could also update their devices.
Meanwhile, several companies are expected to release smaller tablets running Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 8.1 operating system when the software update comes out Oct. 17. The current Windows 8 system wasn't designed for smaller touch screens.
Want big? Google, Amazon and Apple are also due to update their full-size models. Lenovo, Dell and other computer makers have also unveiled Windows tablets that can convert into traditional laptops.
Meanwhile, a company that specializes in e-book readers, Kobo, plans tablets of both sizes.
Kobo's new Arc HD tablets can play video and music, but the company hopes to address the needs of readers with a mode designed to minimize battery use while reading. The 7-inch version starts at $200, and the 10-inch model goes for $400. They will be out Oct. 16.
Many people have shifted to smartphones and tablets to play games, but hard-core gamers still like stand-alone video game consoles. Although Nintendo Co. released its Wii U console last year to lackluster sales, Microsoft and Sony are hoping to do better with their game machines this fall.
Microsoft's Xbox One wants to be the all-in-one device that lets you watch television, play movies, listen to music and browse the Internet — as well as play video games. It will start selling on Nov. 22 and cost $499. A Kinect motion-control system will be included.
Sony's PlayStation 4 is coming out Nov. 15 for $399. It's touted as a supercharged PC, which should make it easier for developers to create games. But that also means the new machine won't be able to play older games, other than by streaming them over the Internet.
The machine's other new features revolve around social networking and remote access.
Expect to see new PCs out with the release of Windows 8.1 in October. The update is designed to address some of the frustrations people have had with Windows 8. The new version will make it easier to bypass Windows' tile-based interface and use a desktop mode.
Apple is also coming out with a Mac Pro computer for high-end, professional users. Apple also may refresh its popular line of MacBook Pro laptops.
Readers will have at least two major e-book readers to choose from: an updated Kindle Paperwhite device from Amazon (starts at $119) and the Aura from Kobo ($150). Both start selling this month. People will also have choices when it comes to watching TV and movies.
Last month, TiVo Inc. released a digital video recorder that lets people watch outside their homes, using an app for iPhones and iPads. Apple, Roku Inc. and other companies also have devices for streaming video.