Given that CES is the electronics industry’s annual showcase for the coming year, it comes as no surprise that the show is absolutely massive.
The five-day event showcases the year’s upcoming tech products from both large and small companies, with colossal South Korean tech giants like Samsung and LG competing for attention alongside comparatively tiny Canadian upstarts like Ecobee and Nanoleaf.
Over the past few years, the show’s focus has shifted dramatically from smartphones and gadgets to automotive, smart home products and, of course, drones. Despite the change, the core of CES remains the same: fascinating, sometimes completely useless tech products that debut on a global stage for the first time.
Rather than delving into which specific companies have plans to show off products at CES 2019, this story takes a broader look at the big themes of this year’s show with an emphasis on the core categories that MobileSyrup usually covers.
This year’s conference runs from Tuesday, January 8th, 2019 to Friday, January 11th, 2019 in Las Vegas.
AR glasses galore
Though augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) aren’t going anywhere, the now-established product categories will likely take a back seat to the newer tech at CES 2019.
HTC is holding a keynote dedicated to its Vive headset, though it’s unclear what the company has planned for the high-end headset given that it only revealed the HTC Vive Pro last year. We’ll also likely see many standalone headsets similar to the Facebook-owned Oculus Go from various smaller manufacturers.
On the AR side of the spectrum, augmented reality glasses from lesser-known manufacturers like Waterloo, Ontario-based North’s Focals will be present on the show floor.
On the hunt for a 5G vaping smartphone
Though this subheading is a joke, 5G is set to be a huge theme at this year’s CES — just like it was at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.
Most of the news surrounding 5G will be focused on which large American carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint are working on in the space given that they have committed to rolling out the next generation of wireless technology over the course of 2019.
As it relates to Canada, Canadian telecom giants don’t really have a presence at CES. As a result, it’s unlikely that the 5G news set to come out of the show will directly relate to the Great White North.
That said, chip makers like Intel and Qualcomm in particular will have a lot to discuss regarding 5G’s role in the mobile space. We’ll also likely see various concepts regarding how 5G’s additional speed will affect a wide variety of industries, similar to what we saw at last year’s MWC.
It’s an EV automotive world
With Apple CarPlay and Android Auto firmly established as most automakers go-to in-car infotainment platforms, the automotive industry will likely look to other areas when it comes to innovation.
Many have predicted that electric vehicles (EVs) will be present in abundance at this year’s CES, along with various forms of augmented reality heads-up displays and, of course, self-driving cars, automotive technology we’ve seen in the past at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Specifically, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai are expected to show off new EVs at CES 2019.
Let’s put Wi-Fi in everything
Wi-Fi-enabled smart home products, whether they’re Alexa- or Google Assistant-compatible, have been a running theme at CES for years now and that trend doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
Everything from Wi-Fi-enabled microwaves and door locks to fridges and stoves will be shown off at CES 2019.
Just like in past years, the two companies behind the industry’s most popular voice-activated assistants, Amazon and Google, will once again have a significant presence on the show floor.
Say hello to foldable smartphones
While this particular product category is the most relevant to what we cover at MobileSyrup, it looks like smartphones will have an even more reduced presence at CES 2019 than in years past.
We’ll hear a lot about 5G, though again, not much of the news surrounding LTE’s successor will relate to the Canadian market, especially when it comes to 5G-compatible smartphones.
We’ll likely see foldable smartphone concepts once again hinted at by large manufacturers like Samsung and LG, as well as from smaller Chinese handset manufacturers.
Given MWC’s focus on smartphones, Samsung will likely wait until Barcelona before showing off the oft-rumoured and basically already revealed foldable Galaxy Flex device.
Still, while it could be a long shot, Samsung might show off the Galaxy Flex at CES and save MWC for the inevitable Galaxy S10 lineup.
CES is still very much a television-focused conference despite the shift to automotive in recent years. With 4K and HDR relatively established at this point, the industry will likely move towards the next big, not very exciting thing: 8K.
Will there be content that supports 8K given that 4K content isn’t even that common yet? Probably not.
However, that won’t stop television manufacturers from showing off pixel-packed 8K televisions.
It’s possible experimental modular televisions, similar to the impressive 146-inch modular ‘The Wall’ microLED TV Samsung showed off last year, could make an appearance once again, too.
It’s also likely that we’ll see a shift to HDMI 2.1, a new port format that’s necessary to transmit the amount of data required for 8K video.
Sticking with TVs, we’ll almost certainly see Alexa and Google Assistant integrated directly into major manufacturer’s televisions, building off a trend that started at CES in 2018.
Bendable displays, both in the smartphone and television space, will be shown off again as well. Whether or not any of these products will be released remains unclear given that we’ve seen foldable screens at CES for many years at this point.
Finally, PCs featuring Intel’s latest processors and Nvidia’s latest high-end GPUs will be everywhere, along with laptops equipped with tiny bezels and 4K displays.
In true ‘gam3r’ fashion, Razer will also probably show off something crazy, like 2017’s three-screened Project Valerie, a concept design that was stolen from the CES show floor.
I’ll be on the ground at this year’s CES for the first time bringing you all the news relevant to Canadians directly from the show floor.