We’re just a few days away before the Consumer Electronics Show rolls around yet again. For the unfamiliar, this is the technology industry’s biggest event. (It’s also the largest trade show in the U.S.) Each year, we get to wager (it’s Vegas, after all) on what tech’s biggest tale will be. In 2009, it was Palm’s entry into the smartphone market. In 2011, it was 3D TV from Sony, Samsung and Panasonic. Last year, there were a number of bids by various companies to dethrone the iPad as tablet king. (They’re still working on it.)
So what of 2013? This year, the biggest story at CES might be CES itself.
Connected TVs finally come out of the closet. For years, TV manufacturers have been talking a big game about Internet connectivity but putting only a toe in those warm waters; this year, they finally dive in. Let’s see how they’ll swim.
Electronics manufacturers have long spoke of their holy trinity — desk, pocket, living room — but the third was not addressed as quickly as the first two. We’re finally seeing this change. Connectivity is no longer relegated to the high-end sets and we’re far enough away from the 2008 economic crash that people find TVs worth buying again.
And it’s not just about those big displays, either — video game manufacturers and non-TV electronics makers are looking at the living room as a logical extension. For some (Sony, Samsung), it’s a hardware play. For others (Google, Apple, Microsoft), it’s a platform play. And for others still (Disney, Time Warner, and yes, even this site’s parent company, CBS Corp.), it’s a business model disruption.
TVs will be thinner and lighter and their pictures more crisper and more vibrant, no doubt. (OLED, anyone?) But the real development will be how the business pieces come together.
The automotive guys elbow their way into the spotlight. For the last two years, there has been a surprising presence at CES, ground zero for gadget geekery: cars. I’m not talking about DeLoreans here; I’m talking about smooth-as-a-baby’s-bottom Audi sedans and rakish Mercedes coupes and Fords that talk back to you.
One word, people: telematics.
Years ago, gearheads could be found in Detroit at this time of year, for the North American International Auto Show. Now, the car guys are sending their designers to Detroit and their engineers to Las Vegas, with executives accompanying each. “Car tech” no longer means a bumpin’ sound system in the dash. It now means nearly everything, from navigation to maintenance to ads. The same tech that applies to your smartphone — speech recognition, cloud syncing and enough sensors to star in Mission: Impossible — now applies to your ride. Which means the car guys and the tech guys are getting friendly, fast.
This year, we’ll see automakers refine the in-car platforms they hastily announced in years prior. Ford got out in front early with its Microsoft-powered Sync; every other automaker soon announced its own, but they were proprietary, indistinct and balky — just like PCs used to be. We know what happens next, right? Standardization, consolidation and consumerization.
The mobile guys run for the hills. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that you people love your phones. Sometimes you love-love them. Sometimes you just love-hate them. It’s only natural — you carry them around with you all day. (Shockingly, some of you even get work done on them.) A large amount of attention in the consumer electronics space has been rightly placed on the phone, but there’s a curious detail about CES with regard to this category: phone announcements are few and far between.
That’s because most of tech’s biggest companies reserve their announcements for the Mobile World Congress trade show, which takes place in Barcelona in late February, even though all of the same companies are in attendance at CES, for other products. “Are there going to be new phones?!?!?!” people ask when I mention I’m going to CES. Truth is, not really — mum’s the word for most companies. This year, we’re expecting a few headlines for sure: quad-core processors will be ubiquitous, and there will certainly be new models announced. But the blockbuster flagship models — Nokia’s Lumia 900 debut last year notwithstanding — are increasingly held back for MWC.
China. We’re starting to see more action from Chinese companies like Huawei and Hisense, one of the two companies that replaced Microsoft on the show floor. There’s not a single theme here, and Chinese companies have always been present at CES. But we’re starting to see a few more companies emerge that aren’t named “Lenovo,” which says a lot about this country’s place in the global pecking order.
With plenty of winners and losers, last year’s CES 2012 was big news for many reasons.
First, the show floor opened on Jan. 9, a week later than usual. LG and Sony unveiled 55-inch Ultra High-Definition TVs, then the largest in the world. Intel gave us a glimpse of the touch enabled Ultrabooks we’ve been seeing everywhere lately.
Last and most notably, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave the company’s last CES keynote, introducing the world to Windows 8’s Metro interface, and announcing Xbox 360 apps for Fox, IGN and more.
To follow that, CES 2013 will be a mix of keynote razzle dazzle, sneak peeks at the latest tech, and introductions to products that will go from patently unaffordable to a given in every living room, a lot faster than you’d believe.
Here’s a small preview of the gadget glory you can expect from CES 2013.
Android-packing Polaroid with interchangeable lens
Polaroid’s president and CEO couldn’t have made it any clearer: “There will be an Android powered, interchangeable lens camera introduced by Polaroid at CES 2013.”
We saw a “smart” snapper at CES 2012, and can’t wait to shoot around with this interchangeable lens version. From a leaked marketing photo, the snapper – possibly called the IM1836 – resembles Nikon’s J1/J2 and features a whole host of goodies.
Samsung Display’s bendable screens
One of the more playful products we expect to see at the show are flexible screens from Samsung Display.
Company reps confirmed to CNET that there will be a 5.5-inch bendy display with a resolution of 1280 x 720 HD and a pixel count of 267 ppi. Samsung’s LCD-producing spin-off company is also throwing in a 55-inch TV version for our viewing (and manipulating?) pleasure.
Things are going to get twisted down in Vegas, that’s for sure.
Ascend W1 and ‘too powerful’ D2
Huawei has not one but two phones confirmed for the Vegas show: the Ascend W1 and Ascend D2.
The W1, as the “W” suggests, will be Huawei’s first Windows Phone foray, while the D2 is getting an Android OS.
While both should be fun to put under the microscope, Huawei’s CEO has expressed trepidation that the 5-inch D2 will be too powerful and thus too expensive for the average consumer.
It’s 1080p display, quad-core 1.5GHz processor and 13MP camera are certainly specs to admire.
Staggering 110-inch UHD TV from Samsung
Samsung isn’t slacking in its CES plans, as rumors surfaced Dec. 17 that the firm was planning to unveil a 110-inch Ultra HD TV come show time.
A Korean tech site’s source said the company also has OLED TV designs for Vegas, creating the perfect storm for a “my TVs are totally the best, yours’ belong in a heap” showdown between Samsung, LG, Sony and even Westinghouse.
Samsung announces major new product
Hold onto your oversized souvenir drink – Samsung has an earth shattering announcement planned for CES.
At least that’s what the South Korean company would have us believe in a teaser video it recently posted.
While short on details, the video implores the world to “get ready” for something we’ve all been waiting for. We’ve touched on the rebranding rumors, the Galaxy S4 and even a QWERTY tablet.
While Samsung could announce one, none or all three of these products, it could have a product up its sleeve that leaves up entirely blindsided. We kind of hope for that…
A Red Ridge tablet from Intel
A recent filing at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission revealed an intriguing device illustrated with a label that read “Red Ridge.”
Red Ridge is Intel’s Medfield-based tablet platform, and while that news is certainly noteworthy, what makes us think a tablet could show at CES is that the device tested was reportedly a “production unit.”
That means we could see a commercial model in a month’s time – or just about when CES’ doors open.
A 110-inch 4K LED TV
Westinghouse isn’t being shy about it’s ambitions to present the “world’s largest” 4K LED TV at CES. The company said as much in a press note.
While it won’t be the biggest TV out there (Panasonic’s 152-incher takes that crown) it will be interesting to see how the company prices this puppy.
Though it beats out Samsung’s 85-inch behemoth in size, because it’s a lesser manufacturer, we could actually see a price tag that the non-Jay Z’s of the world can afford. Either way, it’ll make watching football really engrossing.
HTC might unveil a new phone or two
Mere months ago HTC released two killer devices into the marketplace, theDroid DNA and the HTC One X+. Apparently that wasn’t enough for the Taiwanese manufacturer. If a couple of recent rumors are true, HTC has a couple more smartphones up its sleeve.
The first rumbling came back in June when a possible line-up of HTCWindows Phone 8 devices was leaked, the headliner being the 4.7-inchHTC Zenith. Then another WP8 device, the HTC Titan III registered on our radar thanks to a survey on Xbox Live. Now just a few days ago we caught wind of the HTC M7, which the rumors peg as a possible 5-inch flagship device.
If these leaks have any merit, big handsets would seem to be a running theme for HTC. After the iPhone went over 4-inches, everyone seems to be upsizing. Maybe this is HTC’s new angle after it bowed out of the US tablet market?
LG gives CPU making a try
The rumor mill is turning even faster as the days wind down to CES 2013. One thread we keep seeing pop up is processors, and LG is the latest to jump in the mix.
A report out of Korea has the tech firm producing in-house made CPUs next year, starting with chips for its web-capable Smart TVs.
One chip could be the H13, with the H standing for home entertainment and the 13 for the year, and we could see it and others come early January.
A tablet to take notice of
There’s a good chance we’ll see a good number of tablets at the show, but there’s two we’ve heard about recently that could really turn some heads.
Asus is reportedly working on a tablet with the model name ME172V, a slate that could reach no more than 7 inches, come with a microSD slot for expandable memory and flash a price that puts the Google Nexus 7 on notice.
And while Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is stealing most of the South Korean company’s 2013 thunder, we’ve heard the firm might be planning a 13.3-inch tablet to take on Asus’ Transformer series.
The 13-incher would even feature a QWERTY keyboard dock.
Intel to outline new tablet chips
In the mood for some T-time?
Intel is supposedly prepping the introduction of a next gen processor at CES 2013: the Bay Trail-T.
The Bay Trail-T is rumored as a quad-core scheduled for a 2014 launch, though CES will see the series’ debut plus info on what manufactures are building slates based off the Trail-T.
A SoC sibling is also expected at the Vegas show. Dubbed the Valleyview-T, the chip could take on Nvidia’s Tegra 3 and Qualcomm’s S4.
Look for long battery lives plus 22nm prowess, superior audio, boosted memory capacity and amped up graphics when used in conjunction with the Gen7 Intel GPU. There’s even talk 3D video recording could be in the cards.
Galaxy S4 with Full HD Super AMOLED display
As the major hardware manufacturer taking up CES real estate, it’s no surprise Samsung should (so far) dominate the rumor mill.
This one has a Full HD Super AMOLED display arriving at the show, but that’s not all: chances are we’ll see such a screen housed inside the Galaxy S4.
A Samsung source reported that the display’s resolution will reach 1920 x 1080 and a staggering 441 ppi, but the real point of interest is in the ultra-thin and energy efficient AMOLED technology.
Fingers crossed Samsung decides to bring a SIV with such a screen as its CES carry on.
Huawei Ascends take flight
With Windows Phone 8 reveals by Nokia, HTC and Samsung already in the books, it was easy to forget that a fourth manufacturer received a Microsoft nod to use the new OS.
China’s Huawei confirmed just a few weeks before the show that it will bring its WP8 dish to the party in the form of the Ascend W1.
Though the Ascend W1 will be the last guest to arrive, it may turn out to be the phone everyone flocks to if a cheap asking price is tacked on.
The firm may also introduce the higher-end Ascend W3, a phone with a 4.5-inch display that recently leaked online.
World’s largest Ultra HD TV from Samsung
Can you say “whoa?” Samsung is about to set mouths agape with an 85-inch Ultra HD LED TV, “the world’s largest commercialized UHD LED TV.”
The company made the over eight million pixel tube official Nov. 12, and we’re looking forward to standing wide-eyed before the mondo television that probably makes the lights on the Strip look like dying flashlights.
Samsung rebrands itself
Despite having the best-selling smartphone in the world and running an operating system on clip to eclipse all others, Samsung is reportedly preparing quite the rebranding at CES 2013.
While we don’t necessarily anticipate a radical image reimagining, we do expect Samsung will take advantage of the stage (and a keynote speech) to introduce a new facet to its business identity – a refresh, as it were.
One of CES’s exhibit categories is “Digital Health and Fitness,” so Samsung will likely tack onto that theme with the introduction of products (or the retooling of current devices) that fit into the health and wellness category.
Samsung has reportedly hired a design team that’s worked with Nike on some of that company’s branding initiatives, so we’ll likely see some dynamic stuff from South Korea in Vegas.
As Samsung continues to grow from an Asian powerhouse to a global one, how it sells itself to a broad international audience will be key to its future.
We expect Stephen Woo, president of Samsung Electronics’ device solutions division, to set the tone of the company’s refreshed self during his keynote address Jan. 9.
The debut of Ultra High-Definition television
It took a while but CRT televisions have finally become the stuff of garage sales and trips to grandma’s house, and 3D screens have just started to crack the home market. Now everyone’s lovely flatscreen is about to become a little bit obsolete, thanks Ultra High-Definition. After a brief flirtation with 4K high-definition, the CEA settled on the name Ultra HD. However, Sony, always one to buck a naming trend (remember Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD?) has said it will stick with numbered moniker, calling its pixel-dense displays 4K Ultra High-Definition (4K UHD).
Still, everyone seems to be in agreement over the spec requirements set by the CEA, defining what it takes to be called Ultra HD. According to the group, Ultra means at least 8 million pixels, with a minimum resolution of 3840 x 2160, and an aspect ratio of at least 16 x 9.
Now the question is how big will the screens at CES 2013 be? There’s debate between engineers as to whether anyone can even tell the difference between UHD and regular HD on a display that’s less than 100-inches. And when will these TVs become affordable? Right now they’re around $20,000 (UK£12,515, AUD $19,210), keeping them firmly in Donald Trump and Richard Branson territory.
Intel introduces a new mobile processor, stakes its claim
Intel is probably one of the most recognizable names coming to CES 2013, though it’s not the only chipmaker making a stand on the Vegas exhibit floor.
We expect Intel to show up big at the event, schooling the competition on how it’s done, and very likely announcing a new mobile processor or two as well as some destined for PCs.
Intel is in an interesting position in terms of its mobile future: although it claims to have 20 Windows 8 tablets sporting its new Z2760 processor coming to market soon, the firm’s chips are currently only found in six smartphones.
ARM and its licensees (Nvidia and Qualcomm) are making a killing in the mobile space and all are heading down to Nevada for the show, creating a perfect storm for one-up-man ship on the Strip.
ARM-based chips, while found in major money makers like the iPad and various Android tablets, aren’t terribly up to snuff when it comes to processing prowess.
Yet Intel hasn’t even breached the realm of relevancy smartphone space, making CES the time where it needs to stake that claim.
There’s been talk that Apple may chuck Intel as its CPU provider in the coming years. Cupertino recently developed a poppy processor for its iPad 4 – the A6X – a chip that’s reportedly twice as fast as those found in older iPads.
For that reason alone, Intel has got to show why it’s relevant in mobile and why it deserves to be considered the top chipmaker in the world now and for years to come.
We’d love to see Intel not only announce a new mobile processor, but unveil a new partnership. It’s got to prove it can work well with others (and capture consumer imagination) if it hopes to move deeper into smartphones and tablets.
Nvidia trumps out Tegra 4
Nvidia’s Tegra 3 has done quite for itself this year, jumping into phones like HTC’s One X+ and tablets such as Google’s Nexus 7 and Microsoft’sSurface.
That doesn’t mean Nvidia doesn’t have its eyes to the horizon, and we believe the company will introduce its Tegra 4 processor come CES.
We might see the Tegra 3’s successor at CES 2013
Word of the T40 (the new Tegra’s model number) got going in April, with a report pointing to early 2013 as the time the Tegra 3’s successor would ascend the throne.
At the time, it sounded like the Tegra 4 would fit four new Cortex A15 ARM chips, taking it way past the A9 Cortex chip summit.
Speeds of 1.8GHz are probably going to be average for the new processor, while by the middle/end of the year, 2.0 should be its cruising GHz.
If we’re lucky, we might even see an Android or Windows 8 tablet poke about with the Tegra 4 inside.
Microsoft’s show no more
The Consumer Electronics Show has long been Microsoft’s chance to shine. The software giant has always given flashy presentations, usually involving celebrities. Shaq, Conan O’Brien, Ryan Seacrest, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and more have all appeared to help co-founder Bill Gates and current CEO Steve Ballmer show of the company’s latest tech.
Sadly, CES 2013 will be the first year where Microsoft won’t be giving one of its signature keynote presentations. It gave the world plenty of notice, saying in December 2011 that CES 2012 would be its last. Steve Ballmer’s last presentation at the Las Vegas trade show focused on Metro, the new Live Tile-based interface for Windows 8.
Ballmer and Seacrest present at CES 2012
Companies have moved quickly to fill the space left by Microsoft’s exodus. Qualcomm has nabbed the open keynote slot. The telecommunications mogul will be giving its Born Mobile keynote on Monday, January 7th. Meanwhile, satellite provider Dish and appliance manufacturer Hisense snapped up Microsoft’s booth space in under an hour.
However, Venturebeat has quoted CEA president Gary Shapiro as saying, “Microsoft will have something” at CES 2013. While it’s unknown what that something will be, there are plenty of possibilities. More Windows Phone 8devices? A Microsoft Surface Pro running Windows 8? Its all in the realm of possibility.
LG unveils Smart TV platform underpinned by HP’s webOS
While we expect LG to march out a bevvy of phones and TVs, including some we haven’t seen before, what’s really piquing our interest heading into the new year is word that it may launch a Smart TV service based onwebOS.
webOS, the open source system developed by HP, could take the reigns from LG’s antiquated NetCast Smart TV interface during the show, a move that wouldn’t leave our jaws dropped.
HP delivered on its promise to walk out webOS to the public by September, a vow it made in January, and now it needs a big product and solid partner to get its face out there.
The marriage between the two should be equal – reports have HP providing the OS while LG will plug in its dual-core L9-powered motherboards.
If our expectations pan out, we’ll likely see the death of LG’s small screen partnership with the struggling Google TV service, a relationship LG championed at CES 2012 yet has since cooled.
The CEA estimates that factory-installed automotive technology will generate $8.7 billion dollars in 2013, so it’s no wonder seven major car companies will be on the show floor.
Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia and Subaru will be joined by more than 100 auto tech companies displaying the latest in-car tech. This is a record setting presence for the automotive industry at CES.
Displays and presentations will include electric drive technology. GoElectricDrive TechZone will demonstrate electric vehicles paired with their respective charging stations, ones that can be used at homes and in public facilities. The Safe Driver presentation will show more than the typical hands-free devices, highlighting technologies that can help drivers park, watch their speed and avoid collisions.
However, not everything between automakers and car tech designers is completely sunny. With so much hardware being put into cars before they even leave the factory, will the aftermarket industry be facing an all-time low? A presentation titled “Are Automakers Running the Aftermarket Off the Road?” will address the issue.
content credits to ZDNet and TechRadar adapted by Rick Mark for this Blog