CES 2011 Preview: What to watch out for

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Christmas is coming, the New Year is just around the corner, and in tech circles that can only mean one thing. Well, two things if you count the inevitable hangovers, but one certainty is that electronic manufacturers are about to start showing off their big guns at the annual CES trade show in January. It’s one of, if not the biggest consumer electronic events on the calendar, so we thought we’d give a quiick little round up of what you can expect to see coming out of this year’s show.

3D TVs took centre stage at last year’s CES, and we don’t expect any change at the 2011 show either. All the major TV manufacturers (and some rubbish ones) have 3D TVs now, but this year we expect to see the tech drop into smaller, more affordable screen sizes too, as well as the monster flagship screens.

Likewise, we expect to see more (and hopefully improved) autosteroscopic 3D displays, giving depth to images without the need for glasses. Toshiba have already hinted at 20+ inch glasses free 3D TVs making it to the show, but for us it’s less important the size than it is the quality of the 3D effect. A screen with many sweetspots, if not completely viewable from any angle, would make our day.

Connected TVs are also going to feature heavily, but sadly it’s looking like any new attempts at Google TV are going to be few and far between, as the search giants continue to look to improve the software.

Expect to see a shed load of tablets hit the CES show floor this year, many of them Android, and many of them a bit useless. Any Android tablet that isn’t looking to support the Honeycomb version of the OS may as well not even bother turn up, after Google stated that that build of the operating system will be the first to truly harness the tablet form factor. We’d keep an eye out for Motorola’s first attempt at a tablet, rumoured now to be called the Xoom, and also devices from LG and HTC.

Though they won’t be making an appearance at the show, you can bet your bottom dollar that Apple will chime in from afar with a “magical” announcement too to steal the show’s thunder. While the Mac App Store is pencilled in for a January 6th launch, it’s not impossible that we’ll here some info on the iPad 2 as well.

E-readers are still selling remarkably well in the face of the tablet onslaught however, and while colour e-readers still walk a fine-line betwen tablets and digital book readers, I’m still looking to see a really vibrant, readable one that has a month’s worth of standby time on which to read comics and graphic novels. Qualcomm’s Mirasol tech has looked good in this field in the past, so here’s hoping we see a retail release pencilled in using their screens.

And then of course there are the many wierd and wonderful sights that litter the many halls of CES. Last year’s surprise hit was the AR Parrot Drone copter, now out in shops in time for Christmas. I’d stake a few quid on there being at least a handful more attempts at AR gaming of some sort, perhaps with a robot (please god).

We’ll be keeping you bang up to date with all the news from CES 2011 in Las Vegas right the way through the first week of January. Head back then for the lowdown on what’s set to be big in tech for 2011.

Gerald Lynch