What new and innovative products will debut to change our lives this year? And what new products won’t live up to the hype? Every January brings the International Consumer Electronic Show (CES) and an onslaught of new product announcements. The rumors are flying for CES 2014, so let’s dig in. And remember, many of these are unverified speculations rolling out before the show, so take them with a grain of salt.
Big, Beautiful, Curved TVs
While TV technology seems to have plateaued, the displays at CES never cease to amaze. Last year, we saw new Ultra HDTVs – also called 4K TVs – with 4 times the resolution of current HDTVs. The winner in my eyes was the combination 4K/OLED TV from Sony. The vivid colors and crisp images nearly made my eyes pop out. The price tags on these 4K sets definitely made my eyes pop out: around $25,000.
So this year the big question is: who has the manufacturing process dialed in to bring the price of these sets down?
Even though these 4K TVs need to get cheaper, manufacturers can’t help rolling out prototypes of products we’ll never be able to afford. Both Samsung and LG are debuting 105-inch, curved Ultra HDTVs. The aspect ratio on these sets is 21:9 –called ultrawide – compared to 16:9 on our current HD sets. With that wide and skinny curved display, it’s easy to think of them like an in-home IMAX display. No prices released, but it’s safe to say even Kanye and Kim won’t be buying one this year.
Phones Phones Phones
Phone makers from Alcatel to ZTE will be rolling out new smartphones. LG’s G Flex may finally get a release date and pricing info. Sony may announce high-resolution 2K phones. LG could roll out a smaller G2 Mini phone with a 4.7-inch screen as opposed to the existing G2’s 5.2 inch screen. And there’s a very slight chance we could see the Samsung Galaxy S5. Samsung usually unveils its S line of phones later in the spring, but slower than normal sales of the S4 could spur a January release of the S5 in Vegas.
Our new Yahoo! Tech Editor-in-Chief, David Pogue will be interviewing John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile. There is some speculation that the “uncarrier” will start paying for users’ termination fees if they switch from another carrier to T-Mobile. That would be a significant disruption to the mobile phone business.
We expect to see a few new phablets – really big phones (or small tablets depending on how you view them). ZTE has one that lets you create a split screen to work in two applications at the same time. And Huawei’s new Ascend Mate 2 reportedly has a curved body. Curves are in this year!
The release of the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch may have been big news in 2013, but at the 2014 CES we will see a ton more wearable gear with more evolved features. We expect watches from LG, Archos, Sony, and a follow-up to the Galaxy Gear watch. If Samsung’s patents are any hint, the Galaxy Gear 2 could have a flexible screen and a slightly more delicate design. LG’s watch is also rumored to flex.
Fitness trackers, activity monitors, and heads-up displays will also dominate much of the gadget hype at the show this year: I’m bringing yoga pants and sneakers for at least one day of fitness gear testing on the CES floor.
Asus dropped a bizarre tease video that implies two operating systems on one tablet – the assumption is Android and Windows 8.1. I love the idea of a dual-boot tablet; the reason I don’t use a tablet for all my computing needs is the inability to access critical productivity software and easy application switching. A dual boot tablet would go a long way to solving that problem.
Virtual Reality Gaming
Last year, the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset got a lot of buzz. The company released a developer kit so game developers could build out its potential uses. The rumors are that with a new round of VC funding, they are finally ready to release a consumer product ,and will announce it at CES. Even more interesting is the speculation that Sony will beat them to the punch by unveiling their own VR headset for the PS4.
No matter what happens at CES, we’ll be covering all the big developments. Follow me on Twitter as I tweet from the show floor.