But Intel hasn’t been standing still, and will be having a massive Sandy Bridge presence as well. This product is particularly impressive in its base configuration, and you’ll also see a surprising number of PCs with graphics from Nvidia and AMD on top of Sandy Bridge, suggesting that all three of these vendors are riding this new technology somewhat. Thin, sleek, and sexy will be the dress code for these new laptops from all of the vendors, and you’ll be surprised at the prices.
Even though Google pulled out, that doesn’t mean you won’t see a ton of connected TVs at the show this year, the vast majority of which will be DLNA compliant. These TVs have been quietly getting better all this year, and the latest one I got in from Sony not only connected seamlessly to most of my networked content, but actually pulled programs from my Windows Media Center. Watch for them to be wrapped with products like Skifta, which allow you to seamlessly move your content from any source to any player, be it a DLNA-compliant TV or stereo.
If you’ve never been to the automotive section of CES, you’ve missed a real treat, and never more so than this year. Audi and others join Ford and Hyundai this year, as cars increasingly become more like expensive Consumer Electronic products. Expect touch screens, better media integration and distribution in cars, more in-car hotspots, and some incredible custom rigs with sound systems to die for – I’m not kidding, the damn things likely could kill you with sound. I’m kind of expecting Department of Defense buyers to show up this year.
While these will still favor text over video, expect to see a major refresh of e-readers that will bring outdoor-viewable color screens, and full multimedia capabilities. The line between tablets and e-readers will blur even more. We should see the first products that fully support Google’s new e-book services, and the war between Barnes & Noble and Amazon will likely heat up a lot after the show. Think of this as the first big salvo.
I’ve seen a number of all-in-one PCs that are supposed to be at the show, and many are close to an art form. We are talking metal and glass, asymmetrical structures, and designs that make the iMac look like it was designed last decade. Oh wait, it was designed last decade. The desktop PC is apparently not dead yet, and you’ll see some interesting, attractive, and affordable all-in-ones that will make that point rather nicely.
Wrapping up: Living in Apple’s shadow
Every year I wonder if the stuff at CES will overcome Apple’s shadow. Ever since the iPhone launched, vendors are afraid that regardless of what they do, Apple will overshadow them. This CES is expected to be the best ever, but with the fifth iPhone and second iPad coming, there remains that extra bit of drama that has us wondering whether what is announced is enough to hold off the fruity giant. Then again, as I write this, rumors that Microsoft will announce Windows 8 at the show continue to accelerate, making me wonder if this won’t be the year of an upset.