CES 2019: what to expect from the world’s biggest annual tech event

CES 2019 is approaching, fast. Sure, we still have to make it through Black Friday, Cyber Monday, the holidays and the Video Game Awards, but after the ball drops on January 1, 2019 it will be all eyes on Las Vegas. 

That's because, like every year, Sin City will play host to the gadget extravanganza formerly known of the Consumer Electronics Show, now called CES. It's the time of year where tech innovators from all over the world gather together to announce the latest and greatest in smartphones, wearables, TV and audio tech, with new laptops, tablets and smart cars filling row after row of booths at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

Last January, Sin City saw innovation in droves at CES 2018, from Samsung's 146-inch modular MicroLED TV, The Wall, and the incredible HTC Vive Pro to LG's rollable 65-inch OLED TV and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro. It's the world's biggest tech show, and it's poised to become even bigger in 2019.

Can't wait until opening day on Tuesday, January 8 2019?  Then read on. We've got all the details, predictions and postulations for what you can expect to see at CES 2019.

What and when is CES 2019?  

CES is a four-day event that in 2019 runs from 10 am PT on Tuesday, 8 January through Friday, 11 January. It's been taking place since 1967 and is staged by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), a trade organization that represents over 2,000 consumer tech companies in the U.S. 

Though it gets a lot of attention from the world’s media, this is not an event where the public can go see the latest tech. Unlike the IFA exhibition in Berlin each August, the CES is open only to the electronics trade, as well as journalists, bloggers and plenty of blaggers. (You know who you are…) 

How big exactly is CES?  It's huge. If you're going for the first time, go on a few five-mile walks in the preceding weeks. Seriously, it's hiking boots-big. There are 2.75 million net square feet of exhibit space. Eleven venues. 24 product categories. Some company's booths are vast and complex, while other, smaller firms grab a table in one of the 25 marketplaces. 

In terms of footfall, the CES attracts about 180,000 people from 155 countries, as well as 6,500 media, who visit 4,500 exhibiting companies. All the biggest tech companies in the world gather … well, except for Apple.  

Where will CES 2019 take place?

Since 1978 the CES has been staged in Las Vegas. Why? Hotel rooms, all 150,000 of them, and counting. The main venue is the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center (LVCC), which is a short (and very busy) monorail ride from The Strip, where most of the hotels are. 

Along with the nearby Westgate Las Vegas and Renaissance Las Vegas, this is referred to as Tech East. This is where most of the major booths are. Tech West (comprising the Sands Expo, The Venetian, The Palazzo, Wynn Las Vegas, and Encore) is where you'll find hi-fi and audio. At Tech South (ARIA, Park MGM/Park Theater and Vdara) you'll see VR, AR, and gaming. There are shuttle buses between the venues, but it's best to stay put for the day at one of the three areas to avoid the traffic. 

When do all the announcements happen?

Although the weeks before the CES are packed with rumors and reports of what may or may not be launched or announced at the CES, it's not until Sunday, January 6 and Monday, January 7 – the two days before the show opens – that there will be any concrete news. These are the two media days, and they're when the all-important press conferences are held, and consequently when a lot of the headlines are written. 

Sunday is typically light on news, and in 2019 it's Monday that will see the big companies' press conferences at the Mandalay Bay Hotel at the south end of The Strip. In 2019, confirmed press conferences include Hisense, Hyundai, Intel, LG, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung, Sony, TCL, and Toyota. 

As for whom is actually giving these nail-biting presentations, the first will come from LG on Monday, 7 January; its President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. I.P. Park will discuss AI and 'self-evolving' products … and a foldable phone? 

January 8 will see keynotes from IBM Chairman, President and CEO Ginni Rometty (trust, AI and quantum) and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg (5G), while January 9 has AMD's president and CEO Dr. Lisa Su discuss next-gen computing.  

CES 2019 predictions: What's going to be announced

Just give the attendance list a cursory glance and you'll see that a lot of bases are covered at CES – you'll find AR and VR, voice control, connected cars, robotics, smart home, smart cities, health, wellness, sleep, sports, accessories companies, and everything in between. 

However, in 2019 there are some trends that are likely to dominate. 

The most obvious will be voice control. "Well definitely see more smart speakers with screens," says Jack Wetherill, Principal Consultant: Home Electronics at Futuresource, who also thinks CES will see voice creep into more and more product categories, such as soundbars possibly from Samsung, Sony and LG. The TV remote control could finally begin its death throes. 

"There has already been one TV with far-field microphones in the set itself," says Wetherill, referring to Toshiba's upcoming OLED, 4K HDR, and Full HD smart ranges with Alexa built in. CES could also see the spread of Netflix Calibrated Mode beyond some Sony TVs. 

Headphones will also get chatty. "A new Alexa development kit from Qualcomm means we'll see more integration of voice into headphones," says Wetherill. "We're waiting for headphones that respond to a wake-word, and while that probably won't emerge at CES 2019, we will see true wireless earphones with longer battery life – it would be logical if Sony brought more ‘true wireless’ products at CES." 

Another trend will be foldable displays, with the Samsung Galaxy X likely to feature alongside LG’s foldable. 

However, foldables could go much deeper than mere phones. "Where we’re expecting real change is laptops and tablets," says Tom Morrod, Senior Research Director, IHS Markit. "We are expecting to see foldable laptops with OLED screens that extend across the entire keyboard area – this means you could open them up to monitor size, or to book format, or use them as a normal laptop format with the keyboard as half of the touch panel." But how, exactly, Android and Windows adapt their OS for foldable devices will be interesting. Last but not least, connected cars at CES 2019 could also see integrated OLEDs to replace wing mirrors.

Want specific predictions for each company? We've got those, too!

Aircharge at CES 2019

Wireless charging is on the up, and the CES will definitely see three new products from Aircharge; a Fast Wireless Charger 10W, Fast Dual Charger 10W, and a PS4 DualShock 4 Wireless Adaptor. Both chargers will deliver 10W fast wireless charging, including both Apple and Samsung fast wireless charging. 

AMD at CES 2019

Semiconductor company AMD has already said that it intends to show-off in Las Vegas its 3rd-gen Ryzen processors and new graphics products.  

Asus at CES 2019

How about a high-end 10-inch Chrome OS tablet? That's what AndroidHeadlines.com reports that ASUS will be using CES 2019 to announce.  

Canon at CES 2019

CanonRumors.co reports that CES 2019 could see the unveiling of a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III – complete with a new image sensor and a longer zoom range – and possibly a G9 X Mark III.  

Intel at CES 2019

Is Nvidia about to get a serious challenge in the high-end graphics card market? If reports from Anthony Garreffa at TweakTown are anything to go by, a discrete graphics card could be coming from Intel.  

A photo of an LG robot

LG at CES 2019

Will LG bring new OLED TVs? Surely. More 'ThinQ' branded smart home products? Probably. However, there are also rumors that LG's CES 2019 keynote will see the unveiling of a foldable phone. Either way, look out for pre-Christmas, pre-CES announcements of B-lister products – it's an annual tradition from LG's predictable Comms team.  

Royole at CES 2019

The world's first foldable phone? That could well come at CES from Royole, which recently teased the FlexPai, the 7.8-inch AMOLED screen that folds in half. 

Samsung at CES 2019

A CES launch for the previously announced Samsung Galaxy Home smart speaker – compete with Bixby – seems a shoo-in, but will Samsung launch its Galaxy X foldable phone? "While the full Samsung launch might be at Mobile World Congress we could instead see the Samsung Galaxy S10 launched at CES, which won’t be foldable but will have 5G and triple camera, plus a new notch design on the front panel," says Tom Morrod, Senior Research Director, IHS Markit. 

We will also almost certainly see Samsung refresh its TV line-up, which will mean more advanced QLED TVs (though probably not a new version of the recent 85-inch Q900R 8K QLED TV). However, if a recent patent filing is anything to go by, we could see a transparent TV. Since Samsung is often launching design-led screens, that wouldn't be a surprise.  

Sony at CES 2019

There's likely to be an almighty rush to launch the first 5G-ready phones in 2019, and Sony’s desire to be first-to-market could mean that the CES 2019 sees the appearance of a 5G Xperia phone. 

It's also possible that Sony will use CES 2019 to launch its 5.9-inch XA3 and 5.7-inch Xperia L3 budget phones, according to KnowYourMobile.com. Sony may also launch a smart speaker-with-a-screen, following in LG's footsteps.  

Spotify at CES 2019

The streaming service doesn't normally deal in hardware, but could Spotify use CES 2019 to launch its own voice search interface to compete with Amazon Echo and Google Home? Spotify has suites reserved at the Wynn Encore …   

One thing’s for sure, after CES 2019 the world of tech won’t ever be the same.  

  • New year, new tech – check out all our coverage of CES straight from Las Vegas, the greatest gadget show on Earth 

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