With less than a week to go before this year's International CES Show in Las Vegas commences, it's unclear which new products will generate the most buzz among attendees of the massive trade show. However, Ultra HDTVs, Windows 8 tablets, smart appliances, and smartphone apps figure to fight for center stage.
Tech companies tend to be tight-lipped about specific product details in the run-up to the biggest tech trade show of the year, but we expect the march toward total connectivity to continue on the CES showfloor. Camera-equipped smart vacuum cleaners, Internet-connected TVs, mobile apps for controlling your home's heat, and Wi-Fi cameras that can upload your photos to Facebook will dot the large landscape of the Las Vegas Convention Center.
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Though gadgets remain the stars of CES, manufacturers are building on a foundation of hardware innovation with incremental updates, accessories, and apps that connect the gadgets. "We're seeing not only the broad adoption of technology, but also density is increasing," says Shawn Dubravac, research director for the Consumer Electronics Association.
Dubravac points to tablet ownership, which has increased from one in ten households less than two years ago to one in three today. Dubravac says that he expects CES 2013 to be "the largest apps show in the world," a prediction driven by wider adoption of tablets and smartphones.
"You're going to see apps influence every aspect of the show," Dubravac says.
Apple, one of the major drivers behind the growth of smartphones and tablets in recent years, has no official presence at CES; but mobile apps and accessories designed for iPhones, iPads, and Macs will have a strong presence the showfloor. Microsoft won't be there, either, after ending its CES run last year, but the company and its products will cast a long a shadow as Redmond's partners in hardware, accessories, and apps display their Windows 8 wares.
Windows 8 dominates
The 2013 edition of CES comes at an awkward for the PC industry. The big Microsoft news, the release of Windows 8, occurred in October. Intel's upcoming Haswell processor is still a few months away. Graphics chipmakers AMD and Nvidia have new products impending, but are unlikely to launch them at CES.
The Windows 8 launch, however, positions most PC makers to roll out the bulk of their Windows 8 products at CES. Windows 8 tablets, based on Intel's latest Atom Z2760 processor, have rarities until now, but we'll probably see lots of them on display in Las Vegas. Additional hybrid designs are on the way, too, as are more budget-friendly clamshell laptops, with and without touch interfaces.