LAS VEGAS — Greetings from Las Vegas and the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show!
The show doesn’t officially begin until Tuesday, but many firms are raring to go to show off their wares for the media.
On Sunday, NVIDIA touted a new “super chip” that it plans to put in smartphones and other mobile devices for highly improved graphics. And Monday is already jam-packed with speeches and announcements.
The day kicks off with LG’s news conference, where the company is expected to reveal its new line of televisions -- many of which sport a curved screen, a major feature of the show this year. The curve is supposed to allow better viewing at any angle. Because the screens bend in the opposite direction of the old televisions, the effect makes viewer feel a little more immersed in the picture. Although it’s far from a home IMAX experience, having the picture curve off into your peripheral vision does make a difference.
Asus has also scheduled a major news conference for Monday, a much-teased event that’s likely to unveil a dual-booting Android and Windows tablet that the company alluded to in a teaser trailer. Another trailer also hints that the company has big plans on the smartphone front . In the trailer, colored balls labeled “4,” “5,” and “6” fall from the sky and make dial-tone noises as they hit, raising speculation that the firm is planning new smartphones in those sizes.
In another major event of the day, video game company Valve, is expected to debut new game consoles powered by its SteamOS. As the company moves to disrupt the gaming market by launching a raft of alternatives to Sony’s PlayStation 4, Microsoft’s Xbox One and Nintendo’s Wii U, all eyes in the gaming world will be on Valve’s announcement to discern the firm’s prospects for taking over the living room.
In the evening, Samsung is holding a press conference of its own, where a line of super-sharp, curved televisions are expected to be among the Korean firm’s flagship items. Samsung has slumped a bit at the beginning of 2014, as worries about increased competition and slowing growth in its important mobile product lines have made investors wary of once white-hot company. Expect Samsung to put on a show that highlights its strengths and aims to prove that it’s still a force to be reckoned with.
As for speeches, Monday morning wills start with a welcome and a preview of the show at large from Gary Shapiro, the president and chief executive of the Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the massive tech event each year. In an interview with The Washington Post ahead of the show, Shapiro said that new smart technologies and wearable devices were likely to be the biggest themes of the year.
Those certainly are expected to major themes in two other keynote speeches Monday, by the chief executives of Cisco and Intel. Cisco’s John Chambers will likely be on message talking about the “Internet of Everything” -- shorthand for the explosion of Internet-enabled devices that have brought the Web to everything from our cars to our own bodies.
Speaking of wearable devices, Intel’s Brian Krzanich has indicated that much of his speech will explore that growing trend and promote how Intel’s chips and other products can expand the functionality of gadgets we wear as accessories or clothing.
The day is scheduled to close with a speech from Audi’s Rupert Sadler. The auto firm’s chairman will be speaking about the future of the connected car -- and may also officially unveil a much-reported rumor that Audi is partnering with Google to integrate the Android mobile operating system into its cars. The Wall Street Journal reported that the partnership will make it easy for Audi drivers to use Google products such as its maps and music services in their cars. Apple is already partnering with a handful of firms to further integrate parts of its mobile iOS operating system, such as music, video and maps, into cars. So, we may see the official kickoff of a new tech battle between old adversaries.