Prediction round-up: What we’ll see at CES 2012

CES 2012CES 2012 is upon us, and that means the months of predictions are finally coming to a head. While there are always a few surprises that manage to sneak through, we’re thoroughly prepared to see some long-standing speculation and rumors fulfilled. Get a look at all our CES predictions, and stand by for full confirmation starting next week.

ultrabooksUltrabooks

We might as well put this category out of its misery right away. Ultrabooks have become the tablet of this year’s CES: everyone’s making one, Apple got there first, and it’s very possible that only a handful of makes and models will find their way to true success. But we know they’ll be there in droves this year.

A couple of specific ultrabooks there’s been some frenzy about are the HP Spectre, a lineup of LG ultrabooks, and the Lenovo ThinkPad ultrabook.

Windows 8

We’ve been anticipating Windows 8 since last year’s CES. Over the year, more details about the upgrade have surfaced, and we expect to get an even more thorough understanding of the OS next week. Get ready to see a number of “Windows 8 ready” tablets and laptops.

android tablets(More) Android tablets

There were more than a few tablets on display at CES 2011, and of course, many (most) of these got lost in the shuffle. And while the iPad and iPad 2 still enjoy an easy command of the market, there were some new challengers this year that made their mark. For all their early kinks, the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Asus Transformer Prime were able to give Apple a slight run for its money, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab remains a top Android option.

We expect these small victories to act like kindling and renew the Android tablet wildfire. A tablet is now a device that electronics manufactures want to have in their arsenal, and this year’s CES will be rife with them.

4G smartphones

4G has taken its sweet time getting into consumers’ hands, and this year at CES we expect it will finally make its biggest push yet. Now that all four major networks support 4G technology, there are likely to be a slew of smartphones and tablets boasting the capability at the show next week.

Smart everything (cars, sound systems, homes)

This year, everything is going wireless. We’ll see devices ranging from personal electronics–like speaker docs or cameras, to big appliances and tech like dishwashers and cars–that are “smart.” Plenty of built-in apps (many of which will use the Android platform) will be installed in everyday use items.

We’ve seen glimpses at the “smart home” concept before, the interconnected environment that caters to a family’s every need. But we think this will become less conceptual and inch closer to the department store floor this year. Especially cars: a vehicle with a touchscreen dash and integrated apps like Pandora and Google Maps used to be a novelty, but it will be entirely main stream this year.

4K TVs

lg-4kThis is a rather new trend but one that will get its legs at CES. 4K is a new resolution standard (3840×2160), and it’s the format most films are actually shot in. LG has already taken the plunge and announced it will be showing off an 84-inch 4K TV at CES (in addition to its 55-inch OLED TV).

Problem is that 4K doesn’t quite work for Internet TVs. Streaming content platforms don’t offer 4K streams (except YouTube), so it sort of forces buyers to choose between insanely high resolution or a connected device.

Still, we think we’ll see some manufacturers tip-toeing cautiously into this territory.

Glasses-free 3D

It’s not CES without an overwhelming surplus of 3D! Over the last few years we’ve seen more 3D devices at CES than we care to remember. But this year, we think companies will turn the corner and get rid of the glasses. They’ve been the longstanding barrier between consumers and the technology and a handful of manufacturers were just starting to get rid of the things last year. Now we’re expecting more than a few big name brands will be going glasses-free and showing off superior quality. Will this finally get buyers on board with 3D? If not, nothing will.

fujifilm-x-pro-1-cameraCompact ICL camera systems

These compact, DSLR-rivaling camera systems have picked up steam in recent years. While CES isn’t a major outlet for camera manufacturers, the big names all make an appearance and we’re expecting to see a couple of compact ICL lens devices in the mix. Our gut (and a host of leaked information) tells us that Fujifilm will be showing off the X-Pro1. Refreshes to current lineups could be a possibility as well, and we’ll be scoping out the likely culprits to find out.

Gesture-based technology

We’re going to continue to see more and more gesture-based technology premiere at CES. For the most part, this has been a gaming feature, but we’re going to see it woven into other elements. Manufacturers will be showing off devices that recognize and respond to users based on video input and gesture, to varying degrees of success.

nokiaNokia smartphones

The Nokia-Windows partnership will show off a new flagship Windows 7 smartphone, the Lumia 900. But Nokia isn’t stopping there, and will reveal much about its mobile roadmap for the coming year. From early reports, it looks like we’ll be hearing about handsets at different price ranges, some higher-end devices boasting LTE support and others that hit a lower price point.

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