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Mobile technology will dominate everything

PC World staff | Jan. 9, 2012
At this year's CES, tablets will get cheaper, laptops will get thinner, and cameras will become more like phones. Apps will be everywhere, including in cars. And Microsoft's phone-inspired Windows 8 will edge closer to release.

No product faces more of a threat from mobile technology than cameras. In the past few years, camera makers have come out with tremendous innovations, including pocket megazoom models and compact interchangeable-lens cameras that arm point-and-shoot models with DSLR-like capabilities. But single-purpose cameras haven't overcome the convenience advantage that phones enjoy.

Today's smartphones take decent images; they're in people's pockets virtually 24 hours a day; and once you get a great shot, you can share it with friends with the touch of a button. So to combat phones that are becoming more like cameras, cameras must become more like phones. Expect this year's CES to include lots of phones that allow users to upload images to Facebook, email them to friends, or put them on a photo-sharing service--instantly and wirelessly.

In Short

Here's a summary of what PCWorld's product experts expect at CES 2012 (click the subject link to go to a longer discussion of the topic):

  • Tablets: We're looking for a flood of tablets, including some with budget prices. We also expect to hear some buzz about Windows 8 for tablets.
  • HDTVs: The HDTV industry will focus on improving the TV-watching experience, with less emphasis on improving the TVs themselves.
  • Laptops: We anticipate announcements of thin-and-light Ultrabook laptops equipped with Intel's upcoming line of CPUs (code-named "Ivy Bridge") that promise improved graphics capabilities.
  • Smartphones: Perhaps we'll see the first LTE Windows Phone for AT&T, or maybe a Sony Ericsson phone equipped with a 13-megapixel camera.
  • Cameras: Look for Wi-Fi-enabled imaging devices as camera manufacturers try to beat the competitive heat from smartphones. We also expect to see a lot of very small cameras with big optical-zoom ranges.
  • Desktop PCs: The biggest desktop PC news likely to come out of CES will involve the inclusion of Ivy Bridge CPUs, and the emergence of thinner, lighter all-in-one PCs.
  • Networking: We're looking forward to demos of a new wireless standard that will mark the next step up from 802.11n.
  • Apps: Expect a deluge of apps, including some that will be available in new cars from Ford.

Now let's take a more-detailed look, category by category.

For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012.Tablets

Tablets will be everywhere at CES. I expect to encounter a wide range of screen sizes, from the 5-inch displays of oversize phones/miniature tablets to screens with diagional measurements of 10.1 inches or more. And we'll probably see many different features in these tablets (stand-alone GPS! waterproof! 3D!).

Judging from Google's strategy to allow all comers to license Android 4.0, 2012 will be the year of the budget tablet. Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS-based tablets were limited to top-tier manufacturers, but lots of others are taking advantage of the opportunity to play in the Android 4.0 sandbox. This development should yield a deluge of Android 4.0 tablets; some, like those from Efun and the new Acer Iconia A200, have been announced in advance of the show, while others will be announced at the show. Asus says that during the show it will roll out an Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update to its Eee Pad Transformer Prime.


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