The world’s largest technology show, CES, takes place next week in Las Vegas. Running from 9-13 January it will see the cream of the crop of technology manufacturers and journalists descend on Nevada’s city of sin to showcase what they have planned for 2012 and beyond.
For show obsessive’s it’s actually taking place a week later than usual but it’s still the same goliath it has always been. The show covers a mind-boggling 1.8 million feet and will play host to more that 140,000 attendees.
This year the show is going green. Well, it’s trying to. Attendee’s badges will be made from recycled vinyl banners from last year’s event. This year’s banners were made from reusable, recyclable paper honeycomb material. But, in all honestly, it’s a token gesture due to the fact that thousands of devices will be plugged at the show and that’s sure to have a colossal carbon footprint.
Anyway, we thought we’d scour that pre-show press releases and look into our crystal ball to give you some predictions of what is going to be big at CES 2012.
While many brands like to make their announcements at Berlin’s IFA in September. Sony, Panasonic and Samsung always have massive stands at CES. For the last few years HDTV’s have seen a massive uptake, to the point where they’re reaching a plateau in sales. Well, now it the time for the big guns to try and seduce you with more new-fangled technologies like OLED, 3D, 4K and Smart TV’s.
OLED technology has been hyped and hyped for a while. It’s successfully made its way into mobile phones and now Sony, LG and many other will look to get the tech into your TV’s. Originally OLED was showcased a couple of year’s ago and its always been an exciting prospect. But, early sets were notoriously expensive and very small. This was mainly due to difficulties with manufacturing the panels. Apparently the production methods have been dramatically improved. So we’re expect OLED to make a big splash at CES this year.
OLED offers the very best picture quality available compared to LED’s, Plasma and even top of the range old-school CRT’s. They have contrast ratio’s that are off the scale and blacks so dark they could actually compete with the darkness of space. They can achieve this because an OLED display works without a backlight. So, it can display deep black levels and can be thinner and lighter than a liquid crystal display(LCD). You should expect Sony and Samsung to unveil some prototypes 55-inch displays, but let’s hope they show off something we can buy and, most importantly, afford.
3D, 4K and Smart TV’s
We’re still to be convinced that 3D is the future for TV’s. Personally they give me a headache and aren’t ideal for prolonged viewing. But, we won’t dwell on the past arguments and instead we’re looking forward some new innovation in this sector with improved crosstalk-free flagship 3D TV models, universal active 3D glasses, and maybe even the appearance of some glasses-free active 3D prototypes which do the shuttering inside the screen. There will certainly be plenty of glasses-free 3D TVs on show, though if Toshiba’s first-generation models are anything to go by they won’t be terribly exciting.
The next big step on the roadmap for TVs is the introduction of 4K panels. Essentially HD 2.0. The current class-leading High Def TV’s all have a resolution of 1900×1080 (1080p). Unless you have a PC display. Well, 4K looks to up the anty with resolutions of 3840×2160. There were prototypes of this tech at IFA this year with the Toshiba 55ZL2. We expect plent more of these sets to be on the show floor at CES. Quite what they’ll be showing on them remains a mystery as far as we know you can’t record any film footage in that resolution at this point in time.
This sort of resolution would also mean the goliath storage capability of Blu-Ray wouldn’t be enough to store footage of that quality. So maybe, just maybe we could see a new storage solution…..
Other advances for TV’s will of course come from the software side of things. We’ve been hearing rumours that Sony, amongst others, might be planning to license Kinect cameras in their sets to try and take on a perceived threat from a future sets from Apple. Whether we’ll see anything like this at CES remains unclear.
Samsung has been a shining light when it comes to TV’s that are smart – their current suite of software-enabled TV’s, with access to media services via the internet, have been massively successful. So, expect some new deals with new media partners to be announced at CES for a host of TV manufacturers.
Another big draw for crowds at CES is gaming, now most companies’ leave their announcements until E3 in July, so we’re not expecting anything major to be announced. But what we are expecting is Nintendo to show off the Wii U, something they failed to do properly at last year’s E3 unveiling.
The Wii U’s is an interesting proposition combining the best Nintendo’s touch controls with the power to final compete with Sony and Microsoft. There’s a 6.2-inch full touchscreen (but not multitouch) controller with two analog sticks, one d-pad, four face buttons, two shoulder buttons and two triggers. But it doesn’t stop there. You also get a front facing camera, microphone and all the tilting, turning and motion controls of the original Wii controller too. The big question mark is how is a controller like going to cost, and early reports that you can only have one per console are very worrying.
Many of you may remember that Reggie Fils-Aime will showed us lots at last year’s E3 – including the 7-inch tablet controller – but they forgot to really talk about the console itself. It’s hoped that they’ll be at CES to show something more than prototype and footage from games that are actually running on the console itself – instead of borrowing footage from Sony and Microsoft.
And of course, there are also rumours circulating the web that we may even see Microsoft show off a prototype or at least announce the Xbox 720. It’s fairly obvious that Microsoft would want to get the next Xbox out before the PlayStation 4 – doing so with the 360 saw it gain a huge head start, but whether it’s anywhere near showing its hand seems a bit far-fetched. But who knows. Microsoft has announced that it will no long be making key-note speeches at CES, because, the show no longer fits within there product cycle, but, could they be planning to go out with a bang? Well we think it’s highly unlikely. But you never know.
We’ll be back tomorrow with our second set of predictions, which will include phones and tablets.