It's January, which means that Las Vegas, or the bit that pretends not to be Las Vegas for tax reasons, will play host to CES. The Consumer Electronics Show is the event that kicks off the technology world's annual calendar, and 2018 will see thousands of companies descend upon Nevada to show off their wares. Many will claim to have the solution to whatever problem you may have, but we'll be on the ground to peer through their flashy promises.
If last year's CES had a theme, then it was an attempt to broaden its horizons beyond smartphones, tablets and TVs. Technology companies have mined every last drop of good ideas from the traditional gadget world, which is why many chose to try something new. Our Best of CES winners from last year included a smart bra-style breast pump, a self-balancing motorcycle and smart tech that will help farmers. CES will set the tone for the next year in technology, so while we make our way there, here's a quick run-through of all the things we're likely to find in the desert.
There won't be millions of laptops launched at CES, but you can expect plenty of talk about the devices that are coming. The theme is likely to be low-power, super-efficient devices that can truly be described as having an "all-day battery" without lots of caveats. In December, HP and ASUS launched Snapdragon-powered Windows 10S laptops that can even be upgraded to the full-fat version of Windows. These devices will also come packing always-connected LTE modems, as the worlds of smartphones and laptops start becoming one. Intel, which is feeling the pinch from ARM chip makers like Qualcomm, will probably have something of its own to show off, even if it is just a concept device.
If you're looking for the next blockbuster phone you want to buy, then CES probably isn't the show for you, since we've got Mobile World Congress coming up shortly afterward. For a brief second, there was a rumor that Samsung would shock everyone by announcing the Galaxy S9 at the show, but that was rapidly quashed. But what you can expect to see are plenty of budget handsets that will offer up features from last year's flagships at cheaper prices. Huawei's sub-brand Honor will be doing something at the show, and it's plausible that ZTE will do the same. Oh, and we'll keep our eyes peeled on Sony's corner because it's always turned up to CES with something nice in its back pocket.
CES has played host to a few big gaming launches over the years, like the Xbox and Oculus Rift, but it's hardly a gaming show these days. That said, we can expect to see plenty of gaming companies appearing, even if they will keep the bulk of their powder dry for E3 later on in the year. Beloved brand Razer normally makes a big splash at the show, but that may not be the case this year -- after all, it only recently released its first smartphone. It's likely that all attention will be on its foray into the mobile space and encouraging users to treat it as a gaming device in its own right. That said, we may see some accessories for the Razer Phone, since the company is all about building ecosystems around its products. In addition, it's plausible that we'll see another of the Razer's "project" devices, which aim to push the boundaries of what gaming can do. In recent years, we've seen triple-screened laptops and modular PC components make their bow in Las Vegas.
Of course, it's likely that we'll see plenty of flops and pixels being doled out from the back of NVIDIA's truck, but that's not where the gaming world is focused right now. Since so much of the hard work -- and money -- is sloshing around the eSports world, we're expecting that to be a big focus of the show. In the last year, we've seen a host of big names launch eSports projects, from Nickelodeon and the NBA to... Fernando Alonso.
VR may not have set the world on fire just yet, but it's likely that we'll see something from the AR and VR space at the show. Microsoft, which is pushing its Mixed Reality Platform, already has partners in HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, ASUS and Dell, and more could be on the way. We'll also wait with bated breath for developments from both HTC or Oculus, both of which are leading the charge in the space.