TVs are often the most important thing at CES – both figuratively and literally – and it’s unfortunate that we can’t see them in person this year. That hasn’t stopped TV makers from announcing their latest devices, however, which some companies like Samsung, LG and Sony have already done.
The biggest trend this year seems to be the adoption of Mini-LED technology, which is used in Samsung’s latest 8K and 4K Neo QLED sets, more LG QNED TVs. This is the same kind of technology we saw in TCL’s 8-series last year and is now also found on 6-series televisions. Mini LEDs promise to improve the backlight performance of LCD screens. , leading to better black levels. They can even compete with OLEDs in terms of picture quality, but for a lot less money.
Samsung and Sony have also announced new MicroLED TVs, but at 80 inches and up, they’re meant for businesses (or those with really deep pockets). Sony, for example, has shown that its modular Crystal LED display panels could be used as virtual background for TV shows like The Mandalorian.
We will likely see some continuation of trends from previous years. The focus will still be on 8K displays as well as the scaling needed to make low-res content look good to them. Technologies such as transparent and foldable screens will also be featured, although they may not be ready for consumers yet.
Laptops, PCs and Accessories
The other big category at CES this year will likely be PCs, especially laptops. All the usual gamers such as Dell, Lenovo, HP, ASUS and Acer are set to announce new devices in their 2021 lineup. We expect to see updates for both consumer and gaming lines, and many more. of them have already been revealed.
Dell, for example, announced its new Latitude 9420 and 9520 which the company says is the industry’s first automatic webcam shutter, as well as an upgrade to the 11th Gen Intel Core vPro processors. LG also announced five new thin and light Gram laptops, all Intel Evo certified. Lenovo also released a few new high-end laptops at this year’s CES, along with two new IdeaPad 5 Pros that can be configured with either Intel or AMD processors.
The 5G drumbeat will likely continue with this year’s laptop award. Lenovo, for example, has already announced the IdeaPad 5G, which uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx chipset and runs Windows on ARM. It will connect to 5G networks where appropriate, switching to 4G LTE when it cannot.
Other than that, we’ve seen desktop PCs like Lenovo’s Yoga 7 AiO occasionally (it can rotate portrait to landscape and vice versa), as well as the latest high-end monitors from companies like Dell.
In a stark difference from previous CES events, the smart home scene appears to be much quieter. Much of this is attributed to the fact that Google and Amazon do not have an official presence at the show this year. Of course, we still expect Assistant and Alexa to be built into everything from TVs to speakers, so Google and Amazon will continue to make their presence felt, even if they won’t officially reveal anything.
Likewise, there’s a good chance we’ll hear about new updates to smart kitchens and bathrooms – maybe a smart new faucet? – from companies like Kohler or Moen, and maybe announcements for other home gadgets like security cameras and smart lights. LG, for example, has already unveiled a vacuum robot which can automatically empty its dust container into a separate bag.
Robots and drones
When it comes to drones, CES has never been the most exciting event. DJI, one of the biggest names in drones, hardly ever launches new machines there. However, lesser-known brands from Asia often demo at CES, and they might do so again at this year’s virtual event. We also expect to see the usual selfie drones and those with industrial or non-photographic applications. The last CES, for example, we saw Sunflower Home Security Drone who whips the house.
From a robot perspective, we could see several innovations from a wide variety of industries, such as foodservice (examples include Miso Robotics’ hamburger robot) or delivery robots like Amazon Scout. Big Ag is also a leading investor in robotics and we won’t be surprised if John Deere showcases automated equipment there. We will also probably see the usual “companion robots” for children or the elderly, as we have seen in previous years.
Transportation technology has taken off at CES in recent years, but it promises to be much more deaf this year, as the majority of automakers had little or no intention of exhibiting at CES 2021. Nonetheless, we expect transport news, in particular regarding VE and unusual concept vehicles. Mercedes, for example, has already announced a car that has a 56-inch giant MBUX hyperscreen that covers the entire cabin of its luxury EQS EV. Big screens seem to be a theme with cars this year, as even Cadillac previewed its own 33-inch wrap-around LED display.
Plus, while there aren’t any announcements of new cars, we’ll likely know more about in-car technologies like infotainment systems, heads-up displays, and vehicle connectivity features.
A slower and quieter show
Perhaps the most obvious expectation for next week’s CES is that it will likely be a lot quieter than years past. After all, COVID-19 has disrupted not only our lives, but also the cycle of gadget products. Of course, we’ll see some weird and wacky devices, and there will likely be devices specifically designed to respond to the global pandemic (maybe a health tracker wearable or a smart face mask). But CES 2021 promises to be a relatively slow spectacle. To add insult to injury, Samsung hosts its own annual Unpacked event on the very last day of CES, where we expect to hear about the Galaxy S21. It could very well be that CES is just the opening act for Samsung’s blockbuster.