Las Vegas lights up next week, not with its usual bright lights but with thousands and thousands of gadgets and electronic devices. The annual CES show is here, and while we have our doubts that this show will be as big as it has been in the years past, everyone from Samsung to Sony to Toshiba to thousands of gadget companies you have never heard of, will be packing the Las Vegas Convention Center with their new wares.
Every year a few trends emerge from the show that help set the tone for the rest of the year in tech. Think back to 2012 and you might remember hearing a lot about connected TVs, ultrabook laptops and Android and Windows 8 tablets.
So what's in store for CES 2013? Here are five of our expectations:
1. HD, HD, HD, HD TVs
HD televisions at CES? Shocker, we know! But get ready for HD times four. Expect to hear the term "ultra HD" over the next week. A lot. Ultra HD or 4K HDTVs have four times the resolution of current HD televisions. Yes, that means even higher resolution than the 1080p HDTV you bought this year or last.
Many companies are expected to release or show off their new Ultra HD TVs this year. Sony already has one, but it costs $25,000. Many of the others introduced are expected to be expensive, but we also expect some of the affordable TV makers to talk about their plans. We promise, we'll be all over this category… in regular definition.
2. Wearables and Other Gadgets That Pair With Your Phone
This year's CES is not expected to be all about smartphones. Many of the big smartphone makers -- HTC, Nokia, Samsung, etc. -- seem to be saving their biggest announcements for Mobile World Congress, a mobile trade show held in Barcelona at the end of February. But we do expect this year to be all about the hardware devices that work with your phone or tablet.
And we're not talking about speaker docks (though there will be a lot of those). Many wearable devices, like the FitBit or Jawbone Up, pair with your phone to tell you more about your fitness activity. There will be even more of those types coming at the show and Pebble, the maker of the popular smart watch, has even promised to show us a working version of the watch. We also expect many companies to talk about the connected home and how your phone can control everything from your light bulb to your doorbell.
3. Self-Driving and Smarter Cars
It might not be the New York or L.A. Auto Show, but the cars are driving in for CES. Toyota and Audi have announced that they plan to demonstrate their self-driving cars, and others like Ford are holding press conferences to talk more about their connected, in-dash technologies.
4. More Windows 8
So what's in store for tablets and computers, you ask? CES 2012 saw a number of new Android tablets and a lot of talk about Microsoft's Windows 8, which was then released in October. And while Microsoft isn't officially at the show this year, you can expect more Windows 8 tablets, laptops, and tablet / laptop hybrids.
While many of the major companies -- Dell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba, Samsung, etc. -- released Windows 8 tablets and computers before the holidays, you might be surprised at what some were holding back. We're also holding out for some interesting tablet concepts from Intel, Nvidia and others.