CES Roundup 2012: Trend Watch

The Consumer Electronic Show (CES) took place last week in Las Vegas, and whether you walked through the 1.8 million square foot convention area or followed it through a multitude of RSS feeds, blogs, video, articles, etc. there’s still a lot that can be easily missed. This year I opted for the latter and followed the show online. Through the eyes and ears of numerous reporting technophiles, I may have been able to gain a more in-depth understanding of the new products than some of my co-workers who navigated the vast show floor.

The show delivered a number of new products and concepts, but none so earthshattering as in previous years. As I followed Twitter, some of the hottest trends from the event were around OLED TVs, ultrabooks and tablets.

Across all of these trends, as with every year, thin was in. From TVs to tablets these devices were participating in a vanishing act. Let’s take a look at some of the leading trends:

TVs

One of the biggest focal points was the beautiful Samsung 55-inch 4mm thick OLED HDTV. For those who may not know what OLED is, it’s organic light-emitting diode technology and it is poised to oust LCD TVs because of its lack of backlight, better viewing angles and greener functionality. There is no denying that this TV would pull any room together!

But, as TVs become thinner and their picture quality enhances, so does their connectivity and “smartness.” Consumers are being urged to purchase new TVs and integrate them into what is becoming known as a “Smart Home.” The qualities such as voice integration, motion control, web applications, internet connectivity and cloud capabilities promise to enhance the overall experience.

With the addition of OLED TVs, consumers and companies seem to have put 3-D technology on the backburner for the time being, where as last year it was in the spotlight. Moving forward, TVs will still be produced to have the 3-D capability, however without the desired content existing in 3-D format the question is will consumers change their viewing habits to watch shows they normally wouldn’t, just because they are in 3-D? Let alone, throw on a pair of the world’s most unattractive glasses?

Ultrabooks

The Ultrabook is a term coined by Intel, but a product heavily influenced by Apple’s MacBook, which offers an affordable, thin, light product with functional storage and speed. The MacBook has been in the market for over five years and prior to the official ultrabook category being established, has lacked major competition. However, some say 2012 is clearly the year of the ultrabook and that statement is difficult to argue with over 20 new ultrabooks released and gaining traction quickly.

Out of the numerous ultrabooks announced, one specifically caught my attention – the Lenovo Yoga. As if naming the product Yoga wasn’t quirky enough, the functionality helps you easily make the connection back to the name, as it bends and functions like no other product out in the market. In one position it may function as a laptop and with a couple of twists and turns, it transforms into a tablet with touch screen capabilities, running on Windows 8. It clearly offers users a lot of flexibility, no pun intended and I imagine this trend to be carried across other products.

Tablets

As I mentioned earlier, Apple has historically influenced many product categories and that influence also extended into the tablet category thanks to their iPad products. However, after a number of competitors have released their versions of the tablet that run on the Android systems, many have failed to gain momentum. In my opinion their fail is a result of not understanding their audience or core users. For example, companies such as Apple, as well as new entrant Amazon with their Amazon Fire understand that consumers want content and usability. They have developed products that provide just that and as a result have been wildly successful. Overall, the tablet growth at the 2012 show was not as you would have expected. There were a number of new introductions, but companies are moving forward very cautiously. As many reevaluate and assess the products and what they are developing, I expect 2013 to have more momentum for tablets as the audience clearly exists.

Across 3 categories, TVs, Ultrabooks and Tablets, there are a number of things I did not touch upon. So, with that said if you’re interested in other products exhibited at CES I suggest checking out the following sites.

PC Magazine: Reviews of the best products across the top categories at the show.

CES WEB: Overview of awards and product nominations across categories you may not have known even exist.

Did you attend the show or follow along online? What products interested you and why?

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