This is the biggest trade show of the year, taking place in over 2 million square feet of exhibition space across multiple convention centers in Las Vegas and welcoming over 150,000 industry members and media. CES starts off the year with a bang and floods us with more technology than any single person can manage to see.
Though there is a huge media component to the show and many companies use it as a launch point for new products, its importance for many of the biggest companies in the mobile world has faded. Long gone are the days of seeing five or 10 different high-end phones and tablets launched in the span of four days — instead the big names we know are more interested in releasing mid-range devices to save the big ones for independent events.
Sure you won't see the all of 2017's greatest phones unveiled at CES, but there's still a whole lot to get excited about in the mobile world and beyond. Here's what you can expect from CES 2017.
What to expect at CES
When it comes to Android and mobile news, CES is no longer the big show for all of the big announcements. Instead, we get a wider range of interesting news from more companies in more areas.
When it comes to phones, expect mid-range models and lots of offerings from the lesser-known names. Many of the big names skip CES when it comes to phones, but some companies use this opportunity to show off things they've already launched elsewhere in the world or to bring a small subset to the North American market. Names like Huawei and Xiaomi will have a more notable presence, while more household names like Sony and LG will devote a small portion of their overall corporate appearance at the show.
Chromebooks and tablets
On a slightly different level, many of the big names will be at CES showcasing their latest lineup of laptops and tablets — which nowadays usually include Chromebook and Android versions of their Windows devices, sometimes with a one-off distinct model for each OS. Companies like HP, Dell, ASUS, Acer and Lenovo could have Chromebook models to show off at CES, and those that are still making tablets may have an Android tablet or two to show off. These products don't usually get their own events through the year, so CES turns becomes a good time to show them off.
CES 2017 is going to be a big show for VR, from the top makers like Oculus and HTC showing off their current headsets all the way down to small companies getting in on the phone-based VR fun. Expect to see a venerable truckload of different takes on the face-mounted holder for your phone, hoping to undercut the likes of the Samsung Gear VR and Google Daydream View headsets. You'll see lots of headsets that come in cheaper but purport to offer more features, and not all of them will be explicit Daydream headsets. You'll see some proprietary solutions that are fully contained units running Android, though the operating system itself isn't very important in those.
There's a shot that we may see an early look at new Android Wear watches at the show, depending on how far along Google is in its release of Android Wear 2.0 and what manufacturers have finished to announce. Google won't be showing off its two reported smartwatches just yet, but others may get out ahead of the announcement with some info at the very least.
Beyond Android, expect other makers like Xiaomi, Fossil and Garmin to be showing off their latest watches and fitness trackers. Fitbit and Samsung have already released their big products, so don't expect anything new from either one.
Then there are the accessories. Every company under the sun will have headphones, speakers, cables, cases, screen protectors, adapters, chargers, batteries and so much more to show off. It can be tough to get through all of it, but there are usually one or two shining new products out of CES that are worth checking out. Unfortunately most aren't worth your time or won't ever make their way to market.
- TVs. So many TVs. Samsung, LG and Sony will continue to fight not only in picture quality, but in "smart" features. Samsung has its own Tizen platform, LG has webOS and Sony has Android TV.
- Internet of Things will once again be massive. Everything in your home will be demonstrated as a connected device, most of the time with questionable usefulness.
- Android Auto will surely be on display once again as more car makers roll out their 2018 models. Don't expect every car to offer it just yet, though — there are still lots of proprietary systems out there.
What not to expect
As I explained from the start, CES is no longer the show where the big names in mobile come to duke it out with their year-leading announcements. We won't see the Galaxy S8 or LG G6 or HTC's latest flagship at the show, nor will we even see mid-range announcements from every manufacturer. Sometimes a company will catch us by surprise with a nicer-than-expected phone announcement here, but the past few years haven't been blockbusters.
Beyond that, it's worth noting before we head into another CES that not everything shown at the show is market-ready and consumer focused. Much of what you'll see coming out of CES are products that are unfinished, components of larger future products or pie-in-the-sky concepts that may never see the light of day. While products shown off at CES can be a great way to see where companies are headed, not everything on display at the show will eventually be available for purchase.
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Android Central will be everywhere at CES 2017, bringing you all of the latest information and analysis from the show. But we aren't going alone — our friends at Windows Central and iMore will be there in full force as well, bringing you an even broader look at everything CES has to offer.
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