A hot air front is forecast to rise from Las Vegas in the next 72 hours. It’s CES season, the biggest stink in the consumer tech industry not run by Google or Apple. For the next three days, the world will appear on the brink of Westworld-ian potential, and for all the glory of the initial hype, there’s plenty of products that won’t ever leave the prototype phase. To help you split the chaff from the real grain, here’s what’s relevant to the everyman at CES 2017.
Wireless Headphones Are Everywhere
Apple pulled the plug, and the tech has arrived for a very wireless year in audio. Look forward to CES furthering the barrage of wireless headphones. And if your favorite maker of audio products hasn’t launched a pair yet, hold out — they’re coming soon.
Televisions Are Big (and Smart)
CES is a great showcase for the televisions that fall in the “ogle, don’t buy” category. There’ll be plenty of K’s (8K?! 12K?!), curved TVs, smart integrations and even roll-up screens. All you need to focus on is how the top manufacturers are integrating smart tech into a reasonable TV (and whether it has the now-baseline 4K and HDR). From there, shop smart and focus on the affordable tech trickle-down in 2017.
Laptops and Tablets Are One
The two-in-one revolution is gaining momentum, and while Apple ain’t going that way anytime soon, there’s plenty to love from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo at CES. Better yet, these laptops will likely be at a Best Buy near you soon.
Smartphones Go International (and Niche)
All you Blackberry lovers get ready — the Press is on its way into Vegas. There are also strong rumors that Sony will show some new Xperia phones. Other highlights include Huawei and Xiaomi phones, both from China. Will any of these make you swap your iPhone or Pixel? Probably not, but the competition is welcome and worth keeping tabs on.
Driverless Cars Are Here to Pick You Up
CES is now a mix of a car and tech show, and with the likes of BMW, Chevy, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota, Volvo and VW all showing up (alongside smaller dudes like Delphi, Faraday Future, Harman and Nvidia), there’ll be plenty of buzz. In 2017 you’ll probably take a ride in an autonomous (or at least semi-autonomous) car and, since it won’t be your own, it’ll likely be an Uber.
Voice Assistants Go Quiet at the Show
Home automation plods ahead and will be the highlight of homelife at CES, because the usual voice-assistant giants — Amazon (Alexa/Echo), Apple (Siri/HomeKit), Google (Home) and Microsoft (Cortana) — don’t have anything big running in the rumor mill. (In fact, most don’t even have a booth.) That leaves Samsung, who may try to grab the spotlight with its Viv assistant, given the absence of the main players.
Cool Things You Won’t Buy
Virtual reality and augmented reality are becoming more and more affordable, and CES will feature plenty of fantastic demos. For the average modern-day android, that doesn’t mean much. Same for drones, which will be likely fill in all the available niches — indoor flying, racing, etc. — but without having enough mass-market purpose to take up space in your storage unit.