CES 2015: Will there be anything new at all?

It’s that time again. The International Consumer Electronics Show is coming January 6-9, and your blog team will be on the ground taking it all in, trying to compete with the big boys for the good stories.

For the second year in a row, I’m struggling to think of what those stories might be.

Big TVs, the staple of CES since the mid-2000s, are pretty much done. 4K hasn’t exactly lit up the world so far, and while it should get more mainstream next year it probably will never reach the level of interest that HDTV had back in 2004. I expect a wave of mid-priced larger TVs, say 55″ for $699, from the Chinese.

Tablets have to be the biggest one-and-done fad of the last 25 years. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPad, but no other tablet has gotten anywhere close to the market awareness of the original multitouch tablet. In the meantime, the world’s been invaded by sub-$200 pretenders. The big trend this year will be the super cheap Windows tablet, fueled by special pricing from Microsoft. Think of these as the 2015 equivalent to netbooks; they’ll appeal to thrifty folks but they’ll never change the world.

The biggest surprise will be the resurgence of PCs in 2015. It’s not so much that PCs are taking over the world again but there is still a need for them, and sooner or later those old XP machines do break down and need to be replaced. Sony may no longer sell them, but expect to see other manufacturers putting them on display at CES.

Smart watches? Smart appliances? Smart popcorn makers? For the fourth year in a row, fringe manufacturers will try to interest you in some sort of wearable technology. For the fourth year in a row, they’ll find no buyers. The fashion-savvy set will be waiting for Apple’s watch, and the rest of the world simply won’t care.

What’s the next big thing? Hard to know, but I’ll tell you this… I’m desperately looking forward to finding out. CES has gotten more exciting since its doldrums hit in 2010, but it’s also gotten less forward-thinking and less innovative.