CES 2014: Products to watch for

New Android phones, connected everything, car gadgetry and more to be on display at CES in Las Vegas.

CES 2014: Products to watch for

New Android phones, connected everything, car gadgetry and more to be on display at CES in Las Vegas

Plenty of ‘connected home stuff

Increasingly, the TV remote isn't just for the TV – it's for the TV, the DVD player, the DVR, the refrigerator, the air conditioner and possibly the cat's litter box. A survey commissioned by the Wi-Fi Alliance says that nine out of 10 Americans are more likely to buy housewares if they can be synched to a home network, so it's no surprise that we'll be seeing products like Piper's connected home security system, Bluemoo's Android- and iOS-capable universal remote at CES 2014, as well as new infrastructure like Qualcomm's IPQ platform.

Another big swing at the automotive market

Just like the year before, personal tech focused on the automobile is set to be a major focus for CES 2014, with an entire exhibit hall dedicated to car gadgetry. Everything from Hangatablet's tablet mounts to powerful laser-based headlights from Audi will be on display, as well as innovations hinting at the future of the driverless car.

New Android phones from second-tier manufacturers

Although the biggest Android makers tend to hold their own separate events for major releases – witness Samsung's weird “Broadway” extravaganza for the Galaxy S4 – up-and-coming players like Lenovo will be rolling out all-new lineups. In Lenovo's case, the headlining Vibe Z model will be the company's first to feature LTE connectivity. Lenovo will also release three other models, including 6-inch media monster, 4.7-inch “workhorse” and 5-inch “tweener” designs.

Wearables! Wearables! Wearables!

The field of wearable technology is getting much more diverse of late, a fact which will be amply demonstrated at CES 2014. New smartwatches? Archos will be showing off its first sub-$100 offering, while Sony could be planning to debut the new Smartwatch 3. Eyewear? Expect goggles galore, including cool stuff like Avegant's virtual retinal display. And there could even be stranger things out there, for the adventurous, like shirts that measure vital signs.

A frankly excessive number of gimmicky iPhone cases

We get, as you might imagine, a pretty enormous amount of pitch emails in the weeks and months leading up to CES. While we haven't studied the matter scientifically, it certainly seems like the biggest proportion of them have to do with iPhone cases that have some kind of bell and/or whistle attached. These range from the commonplace (extra battery life, waterproofing), to the unusual (physical keyboard add-ons, solar power) all the way up through the bizarre (built-in stun gun.)

Cool new TV/monitor technology of questionable value

There will be a lot of hype surrounding 4K TVs at CES 2014, as well as the giant curved-screen TVs that both LG and Samsung will be showing off. And yes, we can stipulate that both 4K and curved screens seem pretty cool. But the fact is that neither technology is going to take the world by storm in 2014 – given that 4K is still hampered by price and a lack of available content, and that we're still not entirely sure what the point of a curvy screen is, except to look futuristic. Nevertheless, expect a lot of breathless exitement.

Chromebase all-in-one

Apparently emboldened by the success of the Chromebook concept, LG is branching out into desktop systems powered by Google's ChromeOS, and will show off the Chromebase all-in-one system at CES. While this is only an unveiling – LG didn't disclose pricing or availability dates – it's possible that the Chromebase could offer a low-cost alternative to other all-in-one desktop options.

A new Android competitor - Meizu

While Chinese smartphone maker Meizu technically makes Android devices – the company's Flyme OS is based on Google's open-source mobile platform – it could wind up as an Android rival in the U.S. market. Meizu will debut its first models for the American consumer at CES 2014, and the recent news that developers won't have to pay the company a cut of sales made through its app store could spark some interest.

In cars...

In addition to the aforementioned personal tech trend we're expecting at CES 2014, automotive technology itself will get some attention. Toyota's fuel-cell concept vehicle – which replaces the gasoline engine part of a hybrid with hydrogen fuel for power generation – will be on display at the show. Ditto a Ford concept that will add highly efficient solar cells to a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

New Oculus Rift

The developers of the Oculus Rift, a stereoscopic display headset that has had gaming enthusiasts buzzing for months, will debut a long-awaited update to the product at this year's CES. The original device, though impressive, was limited by low display resolution, motion blur, and an unfortunate tendency to induce motion sickness.  If the new and improved unit fixes these problems, expect rave reviews.

Credit: YouTube.com
Something ‘Incredible from ASUS

ASUS has been coyly hinting at a big announcement that will be made at a press conference on Monday, just before CES 2014 officially opens. Featuring the tagline “in search of incredible,” the announcement is rumored to be a dual-boot Windows/Android tablet. Android Authority notes that the company already has laptop and desktop machines with this capability.

Samsung Smart remote control

It may look like a TV remote had a baby with a computer mouse, but the newest version of Samsung's Smart Control remote incorporates a host of advanced features, like gesture and voice control, a touch pad and something called “soccer mode,” which promises to “optimize viewing for soccer programs with a single button.” No word on baseball, hockey or American football modes.

LG 105UB9 curved ultra-HD TV

Like we said above, it's a gigantic, 105-inch TV with 4K resolution and a curved screen. If you're a very wealthy person who needs a TV to take up an entire wall in your Alpine chalet or something, it's between this and Samsung's very similar model. No pricing or availability was announced, but expect it to cost a lot.

ZTE Grand S II

Though it had been widely rumored already, ZTE confirmed today that the Grand S II Android smartphone will be rolled out at CES. It'll feature the usual bells and whistles, along with a triple-microphone setup for improved audio performance. ZTE launched the original Grand S at last year's show.

Budgee

While it's maybe not as impressive as those robots from recent Google acquisition Boston Dynamics, it's also a lot less scary – Budgee is one of a few robot projects that look like they might have a little more day-to-day relevance for the average consumer. This Kickstarter project is designed to follow you around and simply carry your stuff.