CES 2014 preview

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, Last Updated: 1:58 PM ET

The first truly huge tech event of the year is usually a good indicator of what to expect in terms of consumer tech trends, products and services in the months ahead. So, will 2014 be the year of UHDTV, the year that wearable technology goes mainstream, or will it be the start of the 3D printing revolution?

Televisions of all shapes and sizes

For the past two years everyone from Sony and Panasonic to Sharp, LG and Samsung have been showcasing 4K or ultra-high definition televisions with ultra-high dimensions and ultra-high price tags.

However, as native content is finally becoming a little easier to access and production costs are falling, expect the first well-made, feature-packed sets that have real-world price tags. Polaroid is set to unveil a $999.99 US 50-inch 4K set and the signs are that it won't be the only company trying to make the technology more accessible and more appealing to the average consumer.

However, at the other end of the scale, expect huge, curved-screen OLED sets from LG and Samsung offering even greater resolution and contrast and screen sizes beyond 100 inches.

As well as UHD, a number of companies will be debuting their glasses-free 3D technology in the hopes of piquing consumer interest -- in particular Stream TV and IZON, which both demoed prototype versions of their technologies at the 2013 event.

3D printing

The Consumer Electronics Association, which hosts the annual CES, is so convinced that 3D printing is the future that for 2014 it is dedicating a special showcase space to the technology and its products. Speaking in the lead up to the event, the head of the CEA, Gary Shapiro, predicted that soon every interior designer in the world would have his or her own 3D printer and announced that the 3D tech zone at this year's event is already sold out.

Wearable technology

There will no doubt be one or two frankly off-the-wall wearables but one thing is certain: attendees will be tripping over smartwatches. ZTE and Archos have already confirmed that they will be launching smartwatches at the event.

Acer has made no secret that it plans to enter the market this year and even Intel has hinted heavily that it could be planning to reveal something at this year's event. At last year's event, Pebble, the company that successfully crowdfunded its eponymously named smartwatch, unveiled the consumer ready version for the first time. At this year's event it is promising more big news. It could just be the launch of a dedicated app store and software updates, but there's every possibility that it could be the Pebble Watch Mark II.

Connected homes and connected cars

For the first time in history, this year's CES features two keynote addresses: one from Intel and the other from Audi. Yes, the car company. Audi is expected to formally confirm its partnership with Google at CES and its plans to develop in-car infotainment, but there will also be myriad demonstrations of autonomous driving technology and of active driver aids. And the demonstrations won't be confined to Audi: Ford will also be in attendance as will a number of other car companies.

In the home, the buzz around the Internet of Things is expected to finally translate into sensible, usable and affordable products. Expect smart light bulbs, light switches and scalable systems that can start off as something as simple as turning the oven off and on remotely, but then be expanded to cover everything from recording TV shows, setting the air conditioning and remotely locking the doors.


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