Has time stood still at the Consumer Electronics Show?
As an anticipation of the most awaited technology and innovation event of the year, we share a few notes from the latest press coverage of CES 2021, which we will be attending for the eighth year.
A global pandemic cannot stop the biggest TV show on Earth, but it can slow it down. You can consult the Attendance Audit Summary 2020 to get an idea of the scale of the event, which took place, in its last edition, just before awareness of the current pandemic spread. The timeline of innovations introduced in past editions is fascinating.
CES 2021 will still be the first major event on the calendar for consumer electronics news in 2021, although things will be different this year because of Covid-19.
The new online format will make for a radically different experience from the usual binge of events and content that we punctually go through in January in Las Vegas, but for those of us looking forward to seeing the latest and greatest in tech, it’s still the epicentre of the tech world with Sony, Samsung, LG, AMD, Microsoft …
Verizon President and CEO Hans Vestberg will deliver the keynote address at CES 2021, discussing 5G as the blueprint for the 21st century, the essential technology of the present and the accelerated technology of the future to advance our global community with services such as telemedicine and tele-education.
See the full programme here.
Anticipations and trends
Many incremental innovations have been announced, especially on the TV (8k) and audio front. But nothing radical is expected.
We don’t expect any big smart phone debuts, but we might see some mid-range phones from companies that may not take centre stage at the upcoming Mobile World Congress 2021. Apple launched the first 5G-capable iPhones this year, a major step towards bringing high-speed connectivity into the mainstream. However, with many workers still at home and not on the road, there hasn’t been much opportunity to appreciate the benefits of 5G (which, for businesses, include the ability to avoid public Wi-Fi). So, the real breakout year for 5G could be 2021 – and device manufacturers attending CES 2021 can be expected to capitalise. Most new smartphones launched at this point will likely include 5G support, if only to compete with Apple’s iPhone 12 line. But you can also expect to see vendors unveiling laptops, tablets and edge computing devices with 5G connectivity at the digital trade show.
Rumours are circulating about major product launches from Samsung (the new Galaxy Z foldable devices?) and other key vendors. Although Intel did not anticipate what it plans to reveal at the conference, the company has previously said it plans to launch Tiger Lake vPro processors for commercial laptops, Rocket Lake processors for gaming desktops, and Ice Lake processors for servers in early 2021. The company may have more surprises in store, as it has already revealed other types of products such as the Lakefield hybrid processor and the DG1 discrete graphics card, now known as the Iris Xe Max. Given that Intel has started launching discrete GPU products with Iris Xe Max for laptops and Intel Server GPUs, it would not be surprising if Intel shed some light on the new server and desktop GPUs it has already unveiled.
AMD, said CEO Lisa Su, will present “AMD’s vision for the future of research, education, business, entertainment and gaming, including a portfolio of high-performance computing and graphics solutions.”
NVidia plans to broadcast a special event titled “GeForce RTX: Game On” on January 12th with a keynote address from GeForce’s top executive, Jeff Fisher (new GeForce RTX graphics cards?).
For the laptops likely to be launched at CES 2021, you can expect an emphasis on qualities that remote workers value most – such as lightweight design and long battery life, along with enhanced webcams, microphones and speakers for collaboration.
Virtual Reality: technology has advanced to the point where standalone headsets – which have their own computing power and don’t require wiring to a PC or console – may start to become the norm. This year’s Oculus Quest 2 is a prominent example, which is also affordably priced (at $299) compared to many other VR headsets. Meanwhile, Augmented Reality also continues to advance with a focus on serving business needs – which now include the need for greater remote collaboration.
As vaccines for COVID-19 begin to be administered, the pandemic will likely have a long-term impact on how people view viruses and what kind of measures should be taken to prevent their spread. This means that CES 2021 exhibitors are likely to have many new IoT and wearable solutions on display, both for consumers and commercial entities looking to protect their employees and customers.
Politics and innovation
CES has always been the most concrete meeting place between politics and technology development. In January 2021, the United States will have Joe Biden as its 46th President. With a new president comes a new approach to technology and trade policy. How will the new administration address the issues of technology, innovation and competitiveness?