It's crowded, hard to navigate and many of the top industry players don't announce products there anymore, but entering its 46th year, CES remains the world's most important technology show. Each January, we head to Las Vegas to attend this gadget cotillion and see which products and technologies will shape the year ahead. At CES 2013, we expect to see a number of exciting new trends that will shape the year ahead. Here are the eight most important.
Wireless Charging Goes Mainstream
In 2012, we saw more phones with built-in wireless charging and more ways for them to charge. Nokia led the pack by building Qi wireless charging into its Lumia 920 and offering an optional wireless charging back on the Lumia 810 while releasing a very cool wireless charge dock with a speaker. LG and HTC also made a couple of devices each with support for the Qi standard as Coffee & Tea Leaf announced it will place charging stations in its stores.
But Qi won't be the only standard on display. The Alliance for Wireless Power has plans to show off some furniture with its technology built-in and Samsung in attendance.
At CES 2013, we expect to see a lot more phones or perhaps even some tablets with wireless charging embedded. We wouldn't be surprised to see more multipurpose charging docks that have speakers, alarm clocks or other features.
An Intel-Powered Phone for the U.S. Market
At last year's CES, Intel made headlines by releasing its first smartphone processor, the Atom Z2460. Though a number of Intel-powered Android phones came out in 2012, including the Lenovo K800 and Motorola RAZR i, none has hit the U.S. market.
If Intel wants to be taken seriously in the smartphone space, it needs to find a vendor that's willing to release its hardware in the America. Expect to see at least one Atom-powered Android phone for the U.S. market appear at CES. Since Samsung makes all of its own CPUs now, the phone will likely come from LG, HTC or Motorola. Our money's on Motorola, because it has already shown a commitment to Intel's platform.
A Hexa-core or Octa-core ARM-based CPU
We've already heard rumors that MediaTek is developing an 8-core CPU and that Samsung may release a octa-core Exynos CPU. We think that Nvidia, which was the first company to sell a quad-core ARM chip, will be the first to demonstrate a chip with more than 4 cores. However, we wouldn't be surprised if Qualcomm announced such a chip without providing demos.
Though a CPU with 8 cores seems like the next logical step up, we may see hexa-core units come first.What can you do with 6 or 8 cores that you can't do with 4? We can't wait to find out.
New Android Cameras
In 2012, we saw a couple of point-and-shoot cameras with wireless connectivity and the full Android operating system. We liked the concept behind Samsung's $500 Galaxy Camera, but were underwhelmed by its blah photos and clunky design. The Nikon S800C, which costs $299, also shows some promise.
We expect to see more vendors offering Android cameras with built-in Wi-Fi or 4G at CES. We're hopeful that these devices will take better pictures than their predecessors. Could an Android-powered DSLR or mirrorless camera be around the corner?
Sony and Parrot already have speakers and headphones that pair with your smartphone using NFC (Near Field Communications). Now, with nearly every new Android or Windows Phone 8 handset sporting NFC, we expect to see additional gadgets that take advantage of this tapable technology. While audio devices are the most obvious candidates for an NFC-upgrade, we wouldn't be surprised to see storage devices that share content with a tap or photo frames that receive images with a swipe.
It seems like every year Intel demos a new CPU at CES. Intel's upcoming Haswell chip promises to dramatically lower power consumption with dramatically improved graphics performance. Though the company has been coy about when in 2013 it will release Haswell, we expect to see some Haswell-powered systems either on display at the Intel booth or demoed during its keynote address. Since the lower-power Haswell chips have the potential to allow even thinner designs, Intel is likely to show Ultrabooks based on the new platform.
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Higher Res / Touch / Portable Monitors
We were blown away when we spotted the first portable USB monitor, the MMT FieldMonitor Pro, at CES 2011. Finally, we could take a second screen with us on the road! Throughout 2011, we saw several competing products from the likes of Toshiba, AOC and Lenovo, but since we spotted the MTM Monitor2Go at CES 2012 (pictured), we haven't seen anything new in this space. We hope to see more and better portable monitors at CES 2013, perhaps with full HD screens this time.
With the launch of Windows 8, touch screens and higher resolution screens have become more important. Yet, when you go to buy an external monitor these days, very few have touch and it's very difficult to find one with a higher-than-HD resolution. We expect at least one of the major screen vendors -- Dell, ASUS, Viewsonic, Acer, HP or LG -- to step up with touch support and screens that offer retina-like displays.
If the 9.7-inch iPad feels puny and the 10.6-inch Surface is too small for you, take heart. At CES 2013, we expect to see a number of Windows 8 hybrids with supersized screens that double as tablets. In 2012, we saw the HP Envy X2 with an 11.6-inch tablet screen, along with a couple of All-in-One desktops that double as tablets in the Sony VAIO Tap 20 and the ASUS Transformer AIO.
On the Android side of the tablet universe, we saw Toshiba roll out the 13-inch, 2.2-pound Toshiba Excite 13. Could we see more 11-inch and larger Android slates at CES 2013? Why not?