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By 3 January 2017 | Categories: news

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While many people are trying to shake off the rust from New Year's Eve and past year, the world of consumer electronics is already up and running. Case in point, the Consumer Electronics Showcase (CES) which opens its doors to the public from 5-8 January later this week, but does in fact kick off before then, with events scheduled from today (3 January) onwards. 

Pace setter

Along with being the first tech trade show of the year, it's also significant as it often sets the tone as far what manufacturers are focusing on in the consumer electronics space for the 12 months to follow. 

Another intriguing aspect of CES, is the fact that its scope has expanded quite considerably in recent years. Where previous years showcased the latest and greatest in home and office electronics, now the automotive, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and broadband connectivity joining the fold in the past couple years. 

To that end, here's what else you need to know about this year's iteration of CES.  

Old favourites

CES may be a trade show that's primed to debut surprises, but there are quite a few old favourites that make their appearance in Las Vegas. One such category is TVs, with 4K and HDR options likely the biggest draw this year, as they were last year. Their inclusion can certainly be put down to the new gaming consoles that Microsoft and Xbox released worldwide in the latter half of 2016. 

Whether or not we'll see a greater number of 5K or indeed higher resolution offerings too, remains to be seen. As such, the booths and presentations from the likes of Sony, LG and Samsung should be on your radar. 

One other CES regular are virtual reality headsets. Two years ago, nearly every major manufacturer released one, with the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive leading the charge in their developer kit guises. The latter is rumoured to be preparing a second version of the Vive, and if true, it appears as if HTC is becoming more of a VR company that it is a smartphone one. 

Lastly, self-driving cars, which have come to fruition during 2016 thanks to Tesla Motors and Google. Whether other carmakers will join the fray is unclear, but app developers and service providers like Uber will also be showcasing new things they've been working on. 

Different strokes

As we mentioned earlier, CES has evolved to include more than just smart TVs and connected washing machines. For the 2017 edition, we're expecting to see more voice-controlled AI applications, akin to Google's Assistant, Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana. To that end, there are a number of manufacturers expected to showcase similar offerings, but how they'll compare or indeed improve on those current mainstay offerings, remains to be seen. 

Robots, both physical and digital are anticipated to feature this week. Their role, however, appears to be limited to the household, designed to take care of cleaning and other more basic tasks. On the computational side of things, bots too will be relegated to the home, used to make things like lights, water and energy run a bit more efficiently. 

On the broadband connectivity side of things, 5G will come into the spotlight. With the connectivity standard being developed by a number of service providers, Nokia and Ericsson in particular, it is still in the trial stages. In South Africa for example, Qualcomm tested it out at AfricaCom late last year. Viewed as an Internet of Things (IoT) enabler, it will be a area of focus for many. 

With a number of announcements on the way from CES in Las Vegas this week, be sure to follow us on Twitter at @TechSmartMag to stay in the loop.

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New smartphone announcements (26 votes)
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