The world’s most anticipated electronics show must go on. But it’s going to look a little different this year.
After last year’s CES went fully digital due to COVID-19, exhibitors and attendees alike were looking forward to getting back into the sprawling halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center for 2022. There’s even a new building this year, which will showcase innovations from the show’s growing list of automotive exhibitors like GM, BMW, and Hyundai. Then an uninvited guest showed up on the exhibitor list: Omicron.
As cases zoomed in the week before Christmas, so did cancellations. In a matter of just days, goliaths like Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, and Google all dropped out. But CES 2022 is very much still happening. The majority of exhibitors remain, and even many of the companies that have canceled their in-person booths will still be showing off new wares from afar.
As usual, we’ll be covering it all, with a small contingent on the ground and an army of remote reporters. And our intrepid editors have even managed to get hands-on with some of the stuff that won’t be on the show floor. So here’s a peek at what’s to come.
CES is easily one of the biggest trade shows for computing each year. With Nvidia, Intel, and AMD all set for show-stopping press conferences, we can expect 2022 to be no different. The big three are all hotly rumored to launch the next generations of processors and graphics, and enthusiasts will be all-ears listening for an update on the chip shortage.
In particular, Intel’s anticipated entrance into the discrete GPU space with Arc Alchemist is on the docket, which could finally shake up the duopoly and provide more options for those desperate to upgrade their PCs in 2022.
You can also expect laptop manufacturers to show up in full force. We typically see dozens of laptops and gaming laptops announced at CES, from the likes of Dell, Asus, HP, Lenovo, and more — all updated with the latest internals and the flashiest designs.
If we’re lucky, we may get to see some more experimental designs previewed too. Foldable displays, next-generation panel technology, wacky form factors — these are the kinds of things you only see at CES.
Very little is back to normal. But for the major manufacturers, it’s a return to the basics — TVs and soundbars. More to the point, we’ll see more from the usual suspects like LG, Samsung, Sony, and TCL, pushing their ecosystems further than ever before, aiming to make things work together better than ever. That creates silos, sure. But it also can create better experiences for the end-user.
On the technical side, look for a lot of buzz around quantum-dot OLED, or QD-OLED. As its name suggests, it’s a hybrid technology that supposedly takes the best qualities of OLED TVs (super thin, perfect blacks, infinite contrast, and lifelike color) then adds better brightness and a much-reduced risk of image burn-in.
If it lives up to expectations, that could be a big deal because brightness and burn-in are the only attributes where traditional QLED TVs still have an advantage over OLED. QD-OLED will give regular TVs a boost in picture quality, but it could also be a big deal for computer monitors.
QD-OLED lets display makers get rid of the extra white subpixels that OLED TVs have traditionally used to improve brightness, but on smaller screens this would come at the cost of pixel-level clarity, meaning small details like text could lose their sharpness.
CES tends to be ground zero for smart home products. If it’s connected, innovative, and cool, you’ll probably see it somewhere on the show floor. This year there seems to be a particular focus on privacy-focused devices that protect your data, as well as devices that protect your home.
More devices than ever are consciously manufactured to better protect the end-user, whether that’s in the form of privacy shutters over camera lenses or white noise that stops uninvited listening from smart assistants.
You can also expect to see an array of different smart robot vacuums and robot mops, as well as baby-focused devices to help new parents eke out a few more minutes of sleep each night. All of the major players are making an appearance, from Samsung to LG.
When it comes to video games, CES is usually the week to watch for those who want to soup up their setup. The show is filled with PC accessories, from keyboards to headsets.
You can expect more of that this year, but likely with a bigger emphasis on monitors that can better support current-gen consoles and the latest suite of graphics cards. We started seeing that at CES 2020, but companies should be out in full force this year with more affordable displays that can hit 4K resolutions at higher refresh rates.
But that’s not all you should expect this year. The video game world is currently awash in a sea of tech innovations and buzzwords. We expect to see companies build off of the Steam Deck with handheld computers that can run your PC library. Past CES shows have seen prototype versions of those devices, but we could see some actual competition this time around.
The buzzwords “metaverse” and “blockchain” will also be in the air, so take a drink every time you see a digital gaming device that invokes either.
CES has never been a big event for mobile, but that doesn’t mean it’s entirely without things of interest for phone-lovers. The big one here is the heavily -leaked and long-delayed Samsung Galaxy S21 FE. After being pushed nearly a year due to the chip shortage, the release of Samsung’s popular budget flagship finally seems imminent. Last year’s S20 FE proved popular because of its balance between affordability and premium features, and that looks like it’ll be the case for the S21 FE as well.
We’re also likely to see new midrange 5G phones from the usual suspects like TCL, HMD, and perhaps Motorola. The phones themselves are less interesting than the general trend to make 5G more accessible to consumers at a lower price point.
The other big development we’re seeing at CES 2022 is more companies showcasing their GaN charging accessories. Gallium nitride chargers are able to deliver blazing-fast charging speeds in a more compact charging brick. We’ve seen companies across the mobile space adopt them, and at CES we’re expecting to see new offerings from Anker, Belkin, and other lesser-known brands.
Last, but not least, while we’re not anticipating any specific announcements, one of the trends in foldables we’re seeing with devices like the Oppo Find N is the move toward less noticeable screen creases and a more comfortable form factor. While there probably won’t be a new foldable announced at CES (MWC is where the magic usually happens), we do hope to see some early developments in folding screen tech to be showcased.
In case you haven’t noticed their signature whir around you in parking lots, EVs are no longer just a novelty for tech barons and environmentalists. Hyundai proved they could be affordable with the Ioniq 5, Mercedes proved they could be luxurious with the EQS, and Ford proved they could do work with the F-150 Lightning. So expect much, much more at CES 2022.
Perhaps most notably, GM will unveil its all-electric Silverado, a clear competitor to Ford’s F-150 Lighting, upstart Rivian’s R1T, and if Tesla can ever actually build one, the so-far-mythical Cybertruck. Early teasers suggest it will bring plenty to differentiate it from its gas-powered siblings, including four-wheel steering, a glass roof, and the type of radical styling we’ve come to expect from EVs.
We’ll also see prototypes from Chrysler, Hyundai, and the birth of a new EV-only brand known as TOGG, out of Turkey.
Self-driving cars, another mainstay of CES, will also be out in force, though you should expect more evolution than revolution. Behind-the-scenes tech makers Qualcomm, Aptiv, and Nvidia will all exhibit refinements to components and algorithms that make self-driving tech safer, cheaper, and easier to deploy … but still not exactly here yet.