It’s that most wonderful time of the year: the holidays are over and packed away, a brand new year has been pout on the calendar, and the biggest tech trade show of the year, The Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, is about to kick off. CES 2017 officially starts this Thursday, but there’s plenty going around already.
What can you expect this year? Aside from the usual smattering of HDTV’s, Drones, VR, Headsets, Unnecessary wearables, and automotive If Only’s, we’re going to broadcast as many live events right here and on Facebook.
Keep your eye out for a bunch of giveaways, contests and a live blog during the entire CES 2017 experience.
We’ve been prepping for CES 2017 since last year, and we’ve already seen some very cool things to come. Stay tuned all week, because the best stuff at CES often comes from the most unexpected booths.
Beautiful and ever more stunning TVs are something of a staple at CES. It’s always a show of the biggest, most beautiful screens you’ll ever seen in one place. CES 2017 promises to hold the theme of 4K and HDR front and centre, much like it did last year. The entry price for 4k has dropped significantly, so this year TV Makers will have to pitch something new to get the last few holdouts on board: whether it’s content, gimmicks, or new features. All the big players will be there – LG, Sony, Samsung and Panasonic – along with lots of smaller companies (think Hisense, LeEco and more) looking to make a name for themselves.
LG is expected to show off its stunning OLED displays yet again, and rumour suggests Song might be doing the same. Samsung has long pushed the curved TV, so expect to see more than a few of those.
HDR is quickly become the bar for TVs, and HDR10 is winning a format war over Dolby’s Vision. That could all change depending on where the crowd at CES 2017 goes. We’ll also likely see a lot of smart TVs – everything from Roku, Tizen, Chromecast and AndroidTV.
SELF-DRIVING CARS for some reason
There’s a recent meme about CES now being an acronym for “Car Electronics Show”. That doesn’t seem likely to change. Ford showed up a couple of years ago, and now it seems that half the show is filled with Automakers and suppliers showing off their latest toys. CES 2017 is no different.
2017 is likely to be a year we see a lot more off connected cars and self-driving vehicles. Self-driving has quickly gone from science-fiction to very real life – even Uber is rolling them out. CES 2017 might well be the year self-driving cars become the norm. But we’ve been said that for a while.
And much in the same way our homes are now cloud-connected smart homes, are cars will go the same way. More and more vehicles are becoming smart, gaining the ability to send information on tire pressure, maintenance needs and even communicate with the smart home. Self-driving cars are only going to get better at being connected, getting information about live traffic, road closures and weather as it happens. We may even see examples of technologies that can add this functionality to older vehicles.
GADGETS WILL BE EVERYWHERE
CES is a show of gadgets. Everytihng is going USB-C, and with a new plug means new docks, hubs, drives, adapters, dongles, headphones, chargers, peripherals and on and on and on. USB-C was a bigpromise in terms of change, and we could see forms are wild as Monitors that also act as a USB hub, charge your laptop and even get video all over one plug. We could also see Thunderbolt 3 make an appearance, and really, any device that might benefit from higher data transfer speeds – and what wouldn’t? – will be enhanced. The catch is that USB-C is very complicatedto get right. Some gadgets might not have the tech down yet.
The other big trend is Kickstarters. These are walls a risky venture: you put u[p the money up front and it might be a prototype that never makes it to market. Even if you get a copy, will it work as advertised? CES is always a good chance to see these Kickstarters in the real world, and a lot of focus at CES 2017 will be centered around the Sevenhugs Smart Remote, ready to ship this year.
CES 2016 was full of VR hype – much of it warranted. CES 2017 could be the big year, with the slow crawl of headsets going mainstream. There’s going to be a lot of VR at the show, but the sheen might be worn off. Facebook’s Oculus – which has dominated the industry since it appeared in 2013 – is taking a year off. HTC’s Vive headset is unlikely to get a big update, and smaller companies have already started to ship, giving other companies less of reason to come to CES 2017.
Conversely,with the first wave of devices in the public’s hands, we could see a big push for experimental features: hand controls, all-in-ones, inside tracker, or amazing peripherals. CES 2016 has a large segment of headsets aimed directly at the Chinese market – a very strong, quick-growing segment of the VR industry. A lot of the products look and feel like short-term products, compared to the sturdier Rift and Vive devices. We could also see a larger VR ecosystem begin to appear. Both Intel and Qualcomm are likely to talk a lot about VR at the show, giving the idea of a larger, more device-diverse ecosystem a boost.
Augmented Reality, or AR, is usually at CES but until Microsoft’s Hololens has been conspicuously absent from many headsets. Given the interest in HoloLens, that may change.
IS THE PC BACK?
For years we have heard about the death and demise of the personal computer. PC’s, they said, were obsolete, sales are down. Yes and No, is the hindsight reply. PC sales are still around and it’s more likely that computers have changed form factor, from a desk-sitting screen and box to a touchable pad or touch-screen device smaller enough to be mobile. CES 2017 has the usual trends on display: processor upgrades to faster and smaller, designs that go beyond 2-in-1 forms and affordably priced VR packages that promise to go mainstream.
Intel and Nvidia use CES to showcase their latest and greatest CPUs and GPUs, so expect more power, better speed, cheaper price and smaller form. As for actual desktop computers, Razer’s modular tower Project Christine could make an appearance, and we usually see LG show off some roll-up-able displays.
That leaves us with Gaming and VR. VR is still a niche technology, and that could leave PCs to make it a mainstream operation. It would be no surprise to see VR-ready PCs and even VR-ready laptops. Any PC under $1,000 that is VR ready could go along way to make VR mainstream.
Hardcore PC Gamers always have something to look forward to at CES. 2016 saw Razer unveil it’s Blade Steel gaming laptop and Blade core that transforms mobile machines into powerhouses of computing power. Let’s hope we see more ideas like that, that push the envelope of what we call desktop computers.
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Expect more damn drones. The industry-leading DJI is so far ahead of every other drone maker that no company will introduce a simple, straight forward drone. There is, however, loads of room for new sizes, shapes, and functions. We’re going to see a lot of drones that do a lot of different things.
Of course, we will see loads of drones that look and feel like the DJI Phantom, maybe with extra features, maybe some are simply cheaper. YouTube and YouTubers have made Drones into the IT thing, using them for camera angle that set themselves apart. There is a lot of room in the industry for a cheap, entry-level drone.
Drones will likely also be buzzing overhead on stage. Drones are a sure-fire crow-pleaser and an easy way to add a futuristic tone to any press conference. Intel is set to unveil its own Aero line of drones, so that could be worth a watch.
DEATH OF ‘RIDEABLES’
Cars and car companies were standouts at CES 2016, but it was the crazy amount of bikes, skateboards and hoverboards that was the real story.
CES 2016 also highlighted several issues these product have. Future Motion, maker of OneWheel, had another company removed from the show for allegedly copying their design. Swagway’s Swagtron hoverboard unveiling was less about how cool the product was and more about how they promise it will not explode. Even Segway got in on the game.
These types of issues hurt the industry throughout the year, and the initial public interest and popularity tapered off after several injuries. They’ll likely still be hover boards at CES 2017, but it likely won’t be the talk of the town.
CAMERAS, CAMERAS, EVERYWHERE
Photokina is really THE big camera industry trade show. It happens every other year, and it happened this past september, meaning it may have sucked the big announcements out of CES. Photokina 2016 gave us SanDisk’s 1TB SD Card, Canon’s new M5, FujiFilm’s insane GFX format and more.
All the big names will be at CES 2017, but don’t expect new or earth-shattering announcements. We’ll see some small news revolving around low to mid-range cameras, and we might get details on some of the rigs announced at Photokina. And some experts suggest we are going to see camcorders come back in a big way.
Even thought Photokina has passed, the rumour mill is still churning strong. Canon is rumoured to be working on a full-frame mirrorless to take the place of the 6D Mark II, and Fujifilm is said to be getting ready to unveil new X-T and X100 lines of camera. Beyond that, Cameras will be in everything: drones, phones, wearables, toys and way more.
BEYOND THE WRIST
2016 was a banner year for wearables, in the most negative sense. Jawbone stopped making the Up, Pebble began to sell off its assets, even FitBit was having trouble making ends meet. manufactures even began to drop Android Wear as a platform. Apple says the Apple Watch is doing well, but even if that’s true, it’s the single bright spot in a stalled industry.
That being said, expectations are expectedly low for wearables at CES 2017. That doesn’t mean wearable makers won’t give it their best – and possibly last – shot. Health is often the focus, so expect the usual step-counter, hydration-rate and Heart Rate business, but being as these products are usually not FDA approved at this point, any claims they make are worthless. Wireless patches could be a thing, designed to analyze your skin or biology, kinetic powered smartwatches and more.
Wearables go beyond just health trackers, and its a good bet the best wearables won’t be on the wrist: smart glasses, VR headsets, AR goggles and more. Wearables have been expected to do big things, and for those promises to come true, expect them to leave the sole home on your wrist.
IS THE SMART HOME HERE YET?
It’s never the big part of the show, but Smart Home tech is becoming bigger and bigger every year, with more and more companies showing off weird and wonderful devices to make your home smart.
Smart Home devices are finally getting easy enough to actually use – you just buy, install, and go.
We’ll see lots of new products this year, e erything from new smart thermostats to Air quality sensors, Home security and more. Really, Smart Home is about the platform they run on, in order to work together. Apple’s HomeKit will hopefully have expanded to cover more products that lights and power outlets it currently offers, and hopefully someone will use Google’s Android Things platform. Samsung is still pushing the SmartThings platform, and has committed to making all of it’s products – all of them – connected by 2020.
Smartphones companies generally take CES off. This isn’t always true: we’ve seen LG, Sony and Nokia all make big announcements, but they never typically follow into successful launches. The execution to the rule would be the original iPhone. Huawei always manages to unveil something, so we have that.
Xiaomi is one of the big makers going and is said to be bringing it’s Mi Mix smartphone to CES 2017. Most big names will physically be at CES, just don’t expect much in the way of news. Most companies will hold off big announcements for the Mobile World Congress at the end of February. Qualcomm and others are likely to show off some new faster chipsets, and LG will probably show off something unrealistic.
WIRELESS AUDIO IS HERE
If you have questions about what we’ll see in headphones or speakers or audio the word of the year is ‘Wireless’. Wireless Audio is nothing new, 2016 was a big year with even Apple getting in on the game. When the biggest smart phone maker pulled the cord (pun intended) on the headphone jack, demand for good, high quality Wireless headphone soared. Tens of millions of iOS devices are sold every month, and they all now need wireless headphones.
CES2016 showcased several Lightning headphones, but with Apple push towards wireless over using the Lightning port means we could see wireless headphones become the standard for 2017. There are other categories – gaming headphones, high quality studio or mixing headphone – which are likely to see wireless implementation. And with Headphones, so go speakers: any company looking to sell wired speakers at this point would need a strong gimmick to push them, otherwise they’re just playing catch up to Sonos.