It’s the beginning of the year which, in the world of tech, means two things: it’s time to shake off the festive season’s turkey-induced coma; and it’s time for CES.
The Consumer Electronics Show is the world’s premier technology expo, filling several cavernous halls at the Las Vegas Convention Center with all that’s new in the worlds of home cinema, photography, computing, hi-fi, smartphones, cars and more.
Stuff is, naturally, in attendance, and will be bringing you details of every major product (and doubtless some minor ones) that is announced this week. We’ll also keep this hub page updated, so it’ll be a handy one-stop shop for the biggest launch news. In the meantime, here’s what you can expect to see, broken down by category.
Smartphones and tablets
While mobile isn’t generally a chief focus of CES – Mobile World Congress a few weeks later is a bigger deal for this segment of the market – there are usually a few new products debuted here.
You probably shouldn’t expect any major flagship device announcements, but there might be some interesting mid-range products. Sony, Samsung, LG, Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE all have press conferences during the show, so there’s plenty of potential for some new devices to break cover.
Trustworthy Twitter leaker @evleaks claims Samsung will be launching a 12in Galaxy TabPro 2-in-1 Windows tablet at CES, so that’s definitely one to look out for. Meanwhile, Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf will be making a keynote speech, and the company is holding a press conference at 8pm UK time on Tuesday 5 January. As the leading maker of mobile processors, the conference will likely focus on phones and tablets, but don’t discount it touching on other areas too – wearable tech and automotive, if we had to guess.
BlackBerry (yes, really) has a media briefing scheduled for 6 January at 7pm UK time. There could be new phones or tablets on show, we suppose, but it seems more likely that the Canadian company will focus on other areas, perhaps security and the Internet of Things. Still, there may be a surprise or two in store.
Update: Acer has already announced one smartphone at CES 2016: you can read more about the Windows-running Liquid Jade Primo here.
Wearable tech has swiftly expanded into one of the gadget world’s key areas (ironic, considering so much wearable tech is about making its wearer do the opposite of expanding), so you can expect plenty of new gear to launch at CES 2016.
Fitbit has a press conference on Tuesday 5 January, where we’re promised “exciting news that is sure to ignite the world of health and fitness in 2016”. What could that mean? A new wearable, perhaps, but it sounds like there’s more to it than that.
Huawei has its own conference scheduled for a few hours later, and is expected to show off (among other things) a new wearable or two. We also wouldn’t be surprised if Sony stepped in with new watches and fitness trackers, while Intel and Qualcomm’s events may give us some insight into the future of the tech that powers these small devices.
Samsung looks set to debut some of the weirder stuff: the WELT, a smart belt that tracks your waist size; and a wrist strap that, through bone conduction tech, enables the user to listen to a connected device’s audio simply by touching their finger to their ear.
Once again, Stuff will be keeping a very close eye on any interesting new wearable devices at CES as we compile our Wearable Tech Awards 2016 list. Our Top 10 from the show will be announced on Thursday.
More than 40 exhibitors will be showing off VR wares at CES 2016, signalling that the technology is going to be one of the coming year’s biggest trends. Big guns such as Oculus, Sony and Samsung may take the opportunity to show off their VR headsets, but don’t be surprised if we unearth one or two smaller companies delivering something noteworthy in the field.
The HTC Vive may be delayed, but the company claims the second version of the headset offers some currently unspecified improvement over the previous one – and we should find out just what that is at CES. The new model will be available for demo at the show, so check back later in the week and we’ll tell you exactly what we think of it.
TV and home cinema
Once again, we expect 4K to be the main “theme” around CES 2016’s new television, projector and home cinema product announcements. Despite being available for a few years now, Ultra HD is yet to become a mainstream technology – but 2016 could be the year it makes the push.
Firstly, we can expect to hear quite a bit about 4K Blu-ray. We already know that the first batch of 4K Blu-ray movies is going on sale in the coming weeks, with Sony, Samsung and Panasonic the three companies planning to launch 4K-capable Blu-ray players. Count on much more info about those at the manufacturers’ press conferences, and also how the Blu-ray Disc Association plans to make its format the enthusiast’s preferred method of 4K delivery.
Sony has a press conference scheduled for 5pm local time on Tuesday 5 January. We know next to nothing about what the Japanese giant has planned, but aside from 4K Blu-ray, we’d expect to see a new batch of premium TVs, and possibly a 4K projector and some home cinema speakers.
Like Sony, Panasonic has let slip very little (aside from some marketing speak about “products and solutions designed to meet the needs of people wherever they are”) regarding its CES plans. It has scheduled a launch event for Tuesday 5 January at 6pm UK time however, so tune in then and all will doubtless be revealed. If we had to predict: expect TVs and a 4K Blu-ray player. And other stuff, as mentioned above.
Samsung has a conference planned for 5 January, and has already revealed that among its launches will be a SmartThings controller hub designed to turn Samsung smart TVs into control centres for connected home products.
Samsung has already announced the HW-K950, its first soundbar speaker to offer compatibility with high end Dolby Atmos sound.
Samsung’s Korean rival LG is going to debut a new range of premium products at CES 2016. Dubbed “LG Signature”, these will span different product categories – but a TV is definitely expected (alongside a selection of home appliances). Other, non-Signature TVs are also coming, featuring LG’s new webOS 3.0 smart TV operating system.
Budget manufacturer Hisense already makes one of the cheapest 4K tellies on the market, and has some 22 new models planned for unveiling at CES 2016. Thrifty thrill-seekers take note.
And let’s not forget streaming. Both YouTube and Netflix have sent senior figures (Chief Business Officer and CEO respectively) to make keynote speeches at CES, so perhaps we’ll get some indication as to the future plans of these two major players in the streaming market.
Update: LG's breathtaking 98in 8K LCD has already broken cover - full story here.
Hi-fi and audio
Danish company Bang & Olufsen has long been the leading light when it comes to stylish (and eye-wateringly expensive) audio and home cinema gear, and has promised that it will announce the global unveiling of a “new B&O product” at CES 2016. Will it be a TV? A multiroom audio system? A portable music player? We’ll find out this week.
Sony’s save-the-date invite for its press event shows off camcorders and cameras, so you can expect a few new imaging products from the Japanese manufacturer. Sony’s firmly established itself as one of the world’s most innovative camera makers, so there could well be some interesting stuff on show.
One company we wouldn't count on showing off new cameras is Samsung. There could be some product news: Mirrorless Rumours has been tipped off that Samsung will have a “major surprise” among its camera announcements. Samsung’s conference, as mentioned above, is taking place on 5 January.
Believe it or not, CES has become something of a car show as well as a gadget show. Big name motor manufacturers have marked it out as the perfect venue for showing off the bleeding-edge electronic tech going into their latest vehicles. For example, this year you can expect to see BMW’s AirTouch, a new gesture-based in-car interface that allows drivers to control certain functions of their car without taking their eyes off the road or both hands off the wheel.
You can expect to hear a lot about self-driving technology, of course, not only from manufacturers such as Mercedes, Toyota and Kia but also from technology companies such as Qualcomm and Nvidia. The latter two are chip makers, we know – but they’re heavily involved in autonomous car development due to the sheer amount of processing power required to make the self-driving tech work.
Finally, mystery-shrouded Tesla Motors rival Faraday Future is set to unveil its first all-electric vehicle concept at a press conference on 5 January. To date, no other manufacturer has come close to offering the all-round performance and efficiency of Tesla – perhaps Faraday can be the first?