2017 International CES: Early Preview

It’s almost that time again. The International Consumer Electronics Show is coming next week in Las Vegas, Nevada, and there’s one big question that seems to come up every year, at least lately:

What is there left to show?

I think there will be a lot. CES has lost some luster but there’s a lot of life there. Every year there are new categories that rise up and others that fall by the wayside. Here’s my best guess for what’s going to light you up next week.

Yes, there will be more TVs.
OK, so it’s true that you could get a 55″ 4K TV at a warehouse club store for $400 this year. You have to wonder why anyone would want to talk about massively expensive TVs. Yet, if you think of any one product that defined CES in the last 15 years, it has been the massive TV. Remember that 36″ was considered HUGE for a direct-view TV in 2001 and projection TVs were dull and blurry. By 2006 we saw a prototype 80″ TV that was expected to sell for well north of $60,000.

Obviously the TV landscape has changed considering how cheap you can get a TV for and still have it be pretty darn good. Still, there are TVs that really do look better than average, and CES is going to be their place to shine. Expect the same manufacturers you see every year, only with better, brighter, and yes bigger TVs. 60″ is the new normal so 80″ and 100″ TVs are right on the horizon.

Smart “things.”
We’re going to see a continuation of the trend of previous years of putting connectivity into everything. Expect every knife in your drawer, every shirt in your closet to have some sort of connectivity. That’s where we’re going. With Bluetooth 5.0 and new cost savings in electronics, you should expect that if there’s a thing in your house, you’ll be able to control it with your phone if you want.

Personally I think it’s a little bit of overkill, but if it gets to the point where it’s secure enough and cheap enough, I guess why not.

Headphones, headphones, headphones
Yeah, I think this is going to be the year we’re drowning in headphones. Millennials may not be able to tell the real difference in sound but they seem to be drawn to status-symbol headphones that cost more than the music players they’re attached to. Wired headphones are out, and I expect to see a TON of Bluetooth cans out there.

VR. Yeah they really want this to be a thing.
You will see more and more VR out there, driven by the media attention over Oculus Rift. Personally I don’t see the allure of the gigantic goggles but I seem to be in the minority. I expect to see a huge, huge amount of this stuff.

What you won’t see (much)
First off wearables are pretty much dead. They never took off and I’m not the least surprised. Last year most of the wearables migrated from the health-monitoring area to the fitness arena, and I expect that area to shrink if not in size then at least in interest. Wearables are done, except they never really started.

Cell phones will be there and so will cell accessories, but the big show for this is Mobile World Congress which is in a few weeks. That’s where the big deals are made. That’s not much of a change from the last decade if you think about it.

I think we’ll see some drones but this market is moving toward very inexpensive toys for regular folks and super-expensive commercial models for the higher-end users. Cheap drones will have more of an impact at toy shows and expensive ones have their own conventions. Not a lot of room for the stuff you’ll want to see at CES.

Of course…
These are my wild guesses. Chances are I’ll be wrong about some or all of it, but I guess there’s only one way to find out… read The Solid Signal Blog next week for our team’s on-the-spot coverage!