The Consumer Electronics Show officially kicks off Tuesday, but the fun really starts with Monday’s press events.
The main storylines of this year’s show are power and mobility, whether companies are hawking super-light and portable ultrabook laptops, or discussing how best to upgrade vehicles to include more high-tech features.
Green energy is expected to be a big trend at the show this year, particularly as more automakers take the centerstage. Top executives from Ford, Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz all will make appearances in keynote speeches throughout the week, and Ford’s hybrid model, the Fusion, is the official car of the conference. Car companies are likely to focus not only on green energy, but also connectivity by exploring how drivers can use apps to monitor what’s going both in and outside their vehicles.
(For complete coverage of the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show, visit WashingtonPost/Technology.)
Gadget lovers also can expect plenty of announcements about faster, bigger smartphones as the four major mobile phone providers rush to release more 4G devices to market. Last year, Verizon introduced the HTC Thunderbolt, LG Revolution and Samsung Galaxy Tab at the show, and this year AT&T is expected to be pushing its ever-growing 4G portfolio.
Two holdover trends from last year — tablets and smart TVs — also are expected to make a big splash at the show. The tablet market is still maturing and more companies are jumping into the fray offering a variety of screen sizes and other distinguishing features, such as Pantech’s “waterproof” Element tablet.
Google also will have a big show, after the company announced several more partners including LG, Samsung and Vizio. Convergence will be a major theme as companies scramble to augment TV to include search, apps and Web video.
The trend that’s gotten the most mention has been the rise of ultrabooks — slim, powerful laptops that are, in some part, designed to go after the market that Apple has seized with its MacBook Air. These computers cart faster, better chips, lighter components and sleeker design, as shown by laptops such as the expected HP Spectre.
The main event Monday will be the keynote address from Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer at 9:30 p.m. EST. No major announcements are expected from Ballmer — in the past he’s used the speech to introduce products such as the Xbox — but the speech will be notable because it’s his last year headlining at CES. Late last month, Microsoft said that CES no longer fit the company’s needs and does not match its product announcement cycle.