Want tech innovation? CES 2017 is about to bring it.

By

Each year at CES, tech's biggest players show off their latest, greatest gear. (Except for Apple, of course.)
Each year at CES, tech's biggest players show off their latest, greatest gear. (Except for Apple, of course.)
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

CES2017 Just because Apple ignores CES, the gigantic electronics show that slams Las Vegas each January, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re interested in the next wave of tech innovation, the annual show should definitely be on your radar.

You won’t glimpse the next iPhone or the rumored Apple Car, but there’s plenty of great tech breakthroughs that should get you salivating over next week’s big event. Here’s a rundown of all the cool stuff we expect to see at CES 2017.

Smart (and not so smart) devices

Never will you find more gadgets pretending to be smart than at CES, which has previously brought us all manner of wacky “imagine the Nest Learning Thermostat of toilet brushes” type devices.

However, amid the headline-but-no-sales-generating piles of sensor-filled flotsam and jetsam, there’s always some genuinely exciting innovation. Apple may still be struggling to convince us that it’s serious about HomeKit, but Amazon’s unexpected success with the Echo and Echo Dot has demonstrated mainstream acceptance of smart devices, provided they’re pitched correctly.

This category is the wild card, since it tends to be smaller companies and startups exhibiting, but Samsung has shown itself to be pretty up on the connected home, too, so we may see a few giants rear their heads with some innovative new tech.

For example, LG has already announced a “Hub Robot” that will double as a smart home gateway and personal assistant, plus another robot that will tend your garden when you’re away at work.

Perhaps most exciting? Probable demonstrations of lightning-fast 5G technology that will eventually hold all of this connectivity together. 5G is “going to be a pretty big deal,” Ericsson’s Glenn Laxdal told CNET. “It’ll be the underlying technology of many of the things discussed at CES.”

Like a lot of the tech we see at CES, 5G isn’t necessarily ready for prime time just yet — but it should make for some impressive demos.

Cars

We’re no closer to an Apple Car, but the past few years have undoubtedly seen more of a convergence between regular tech and the automotive industry — and we’re expecting some interesting innovations at CES.

Electric car maker Faraday Future is promising to debut a “premium electric vehicle that combines extreme technology, industry-leading range, and holistic design.”

Established automakers Nissan, BMW, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota will also show their wares. BMW will showcase its HoloActive Touch Technology, a futuristic floating display that promises to change our understanding of what a dashboard might look like.

There’s bound to be a whole lot of chat about self-driving cars, too.

TV

2016 gave us some brilliant TV to enjoy, CES will give us some great new displays to enjoy 2017’s coming attractions. It virtually goes without saying, but the first thing to point out is that 4K displays are going to be literally everywhere.

One of the big rumors going into CES is that Sony will debut its first line of 4K OLED TVs, which will compete with LG’s stunning offerings. To match the OLED mania, we expect Samsung to pull something big out of the bag, too: With 3-D TV a thing of the past, we’re eagerly waiting for Samsung to give us a TV set to be excited about — and make braving the CES crowds worthwhile.

With Nvidia unveiling Shield Android TV tech at CES, we’re also hoping for some interesting new content offerings.

And computer displays, too

Apple no longer makes its own displays, which opens up a new market for external monitors if that’s what you’re after. Fortunately, CES promises to bring some exciting displays.

Perhaps the one we’re most excited about is a 32-inch beast from LG, which will boast an astonishing 3,8400-by-2,160-pixel screen. With USB-C connectivity in addition to HDR10 support, this IPS 4K panel could be the perfect replacement for Apple’s abandoned Thunderbolt displays.

Virtual/augmented reality

Virtual reality had a great year in 2016, even if it didn’t quite capture the wider public’s imagination. Tim Cook has said he’s interested in VR and augmented reality for Apple, so CES innovations in this area will be intriguing as a possible indicator of where the industry is headed.

TechRadar suggests that Qualcomm will demo a new Power Rangers VR experience to help promote the upcoming film, while also offering a glimpse at the latest in big-budget immersive experiences (and showing off the new Snapdragon 835 chipset).

In terms of headsets, expect to see a slew of newcomers in addition to the giants you’d expect — many of whom will introduce updates for last year’s talking points like the HTC Vive Pre.

We can also expect plenty of 360 cameras, including one by Insta360 that promises 8K 360-degree images. Oh, and lots and lots of companies trying to live up to the promise of Pokémon Go.

Phones

If you’re reading Cult of Mac, we’re guessing you’re probably an iPhone user — and with Apple reportedly set to unveil its biggest iPhone refresh in years in 2017, we’re not necessarily expecting you to jump ship.

But if you could be tempted, there’s sure to be lots of options at CES that will try to lure you with their siren call. For instance, ASUS is set to debut its ZenFone, which rumor has it will boast a Snapdragon 625 processor, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of onboard storage, a 4,850mAh battery and a dual-lens camera.

In something of a historic moment, BlackBerry is reportedly set to debut the Mercury, its last in-house smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard.

Aside from this, we’re looking forward to some wacky next-gen foldable phones, waterproof phones, true wireless charging phones, and basically a ton of other smart features that will make tomorrow’s handsets exciting.

And the rest…

CES offers no shortage of tech to show off, much of which doesn’t fit neatly into the categories we’ve described above. From smart sound systems to computer processors to cutting-edge drones to robots, we’re hoping to see plenty more that will make our jaws drop.

Cult of Mac will be covering some of the most exciting CES innovations, so make sure you follow along here next week. What are you hoping for from the event? Leave your comments below.