Consumers ready to spend big on high-tech products: report

According to the latest Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) data, confidence in the economy is at its highest in the US since 2012. And this optimism is expected to translate into a similar confidence in the latest big ticket and emerging tech gadgets.

"Consumer confidence is improving steadily following a weak first quarter," said Shawn DuBravac, CEA's chief economist and senior director of research. "The improved sentiment is helping establish a solid foundation for stronger tech spending -- especially with the growth of emerging technologies like wearables and Ultra HDTV -- to materialize in the back half of 2014."

The data in question is drawn from the CEA Index of Consumer Technology Expectations (ICTE), which measures consumer expectations about technology spending. Over the past month it has increased by 4.1 points to 95.3 -- the highest level since the 2012 holiday season.

And as this jump in confidence is arriving as ultra-high definition TV sets finally start to drop in price to the sub-$1000 mark and as the first Google and possibly Apple powered smartwatches hit the shelves, it looks like they are going to be the main beneficiaries of this improved optimism and willingness to spend.

The CEA also expects total revenues for the US consumer electronics industry to grow 2 percent over the course of 2014 and to hit a record high of $211.3 billion. And although UHD TVs and smartwatches and other wearables, plus 3D printers and connected devices like thermostats will make up an estimated 5 percent of this total, the market will be driven by continuing demand for smartphones and tablets, which will account for 35.1 percent of all revenues over the coming year.

Other devices and categories that the CEA sees driving the market in 2014 include high-end headphones and Bluetooth speakers -- headphone sales are expected to pass 75.9 million units by the end of the year -- and a renewed interest in gaming consoles thanks to the PS4 and Xbox One.

"There has never been a more exciting time for the technology consumer," said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO, CEA. "Across the consumer electronics industry, companies are packing more innovative features than ever into products that have quickly become indispensable -- even as the industry continues to introduce breakthrough innovations that are capturing the hearts, minds and imaginations of consumers across the nation. Emerging tech categories including wearable devices, Ultra HD TV and 3D printers are generating tremendous consumer excitement and cementing their place as the next generation of ‘must have' products."