Saturday 29 April 2017

From cheaper tellies to virtual reality breakthroughs - Five things to expect from CES 2017

Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

As the world’s biggest tech trade event, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is often scrutinised for emerging trends in the tech, electronics and home entertainment.

But lots of it ends up being discarded by consumers who don’t really care about flying cars or shopping assistant drones. So what are the themes from CES 2017 that will affect ordinary people this year?

Here are a few to look out for.

 

1. Better, cheaper tellies

CES always goes big on new TV technology. This year, we’re expecting to see a few 8K televisions introduced. This is twice the resolution of existing ‘ultra HD’ (or 4K) tellies. But we’re also expecting to see the price of 4K TVs fall sharply. Where once you’d pay €1,000 for a 4K television, we’re about to start seeing them for €399 and below. And now that Sky is starting to broadcast football in 4K, more people are insisting that they have 4K sets. And that leads to more programme makers filming in 4K. At CES, look also for HDR to be incorporated into more sets. HDR improves the quality of television pictures by making colours sharper and blacks blacker.

 

2. A wireless audio takeover

Home stereo speakers and headphones have been taking a distinctly wireless direction for the last three years -- see Sonos, Philips, Sennheiser and Sony. Now that the iPhone 7 has ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack, we’re expecting to see wireless headphones and speakers become the absolute standard.

 

3. USB-C on everything

If you’ve bought a new Android phone or standard laptop lately, there’s about a one in three chance that it has a USB-C port as either its main charging dock or an expansion port. Android phones are starting to switch over en masse to the system (which means all your microUSB chargers will unfortunately be no longer of use). Apple laptops are now switching to USB-C too -- the updated MacBook and MacBook Pro now uses it as the only port of significance. The bottom line is that whatever you buy this year, you’ll be better off if it’s USB-C compatible.

 

4. More automation in cars

Car technology has been the fastest-growing part of CES in recent years. Companies such as Ford, Mercedes and Audi have taken huge positions on self-driving cars. But while the main thrust of this was last year, CES 2017 will see cars unveil more short-term automation measures while we wait for the 2019 introduction of full self-driving cars on roads. The cars you buy today in Ireland already have the ability to alert you if the vehicle in the next lane is getting too close and even to take charge of the steering to prevent a collision. Expect to see more of this unveiled.

 

5. Virtual reality in development

Last year’s big story was virtual reality. Don’t expect to see any of big breakthrough announcements at this year’s show, though. Companies like Facebook (which owns Oculus), Samsung and HTC are playing down any big launches and emphasising instead the build-out of the ecosystem.

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