CES 2018: The biggest news and hottest products to expect next week

Amazon Echo, Google Home
Personal assistants from Amazon and Google look set to make an impression at CES 2018

Be on the lookout for the best in PCs, smart TVs and more

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5 January 2018 | 0

CES opens in Las Vegas next week, and you know what that means. If it fits into a PC or your pocket; if it sits on a console or kitchen counter; if it beeps, buzzes, or talks; and if it’s artificially intelligent or at least somewhat smart; it will be there, somewhere, in a great river of technology flowing through the hotels and convention centres along the Strip.

We’ve already pinpointed some intriguing technologies so keep reading to find out what’s worth seeing.

AMD’s next-gen Ryzen
Rumours have swirled for months that AMD would be rolling out the sequel to its smash hit Ryzen CPUs as soon as March. That would make CES the perfect time for the company to begin beating the drums.

The big question is what exactly AMD could bring to the next-gen Ryzen to top the original. A die shrink to 12nm? An even more insane price-per-core ratio?

Intel Kaby Lake G
Intel’s new Kaby Lake G combines an Intel 8th-gen CPU with a custom-built AMD Radeon GPU. What isn’t known is which Radeon Intel has access too. Many speculated that AMD would only give up older graphics parts, but an apparently unintentional leak by Intel India seemed to confirm it would actually be AMD’s newest Vega. We’ll know for sure next week.

Nvidia GeForce Volta
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang is scheduled to deliver a keynote at CES, which has led many to wonder if we’ll finally see a consumer graphics card based on Volta. And no, that doesn’t include Nvidia’s the $3,000 Titan V.

The bigger question may be what Nvidia names it, because the company typically resets its numbering scheme on big launches. For example, the company went from the GeForce 9800 GTX to a GeForce GTX 280. With the GeForce GTX 1080 as the current top dog, should we expect a Volta version to be called GTX 1180, GTX 2080, or GTX 280 all over again?

The competitive Huang doesn’t like to cede the high ground to rivals Intel and AMD, so fireworks are inevitable.

Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered PCs
Qualcomm made waves when it unveiled its Snapdragon 835 Mobile PC Platform, which puts its smartphone chips (and its cellular modems) into Windows PCs. The company trotted out product from high-profile partners HP and Asus, and enjoyed warm words of support from Microsoft Windows czar Terry Myerson.

Interestingly, Qualcomm is being up-front about the pros and cons. Don’t expect as much performance. You’ll have to run non-UWP apps in emulation, and you can’t run 64-bit apps at all. But you can expect more battery life – a lot more. The company’s betting a lot of mainstream laptop users will settle for good-enough computing if they can enjoy it unplugged all day long, and maybe the next day, too.

Early models were shown running the restrictive Windows 10 S. At CES, we hope to answer these questions and see more laptops with the chip.

A PC so crazy it’s good
CES is all about overkill and excess, including the PCs. Every year, some crazy computer emerges to represent the bleeding edge and remind us how fabulous PCs can be.

At CES in 2017, it was the Acer Predator 21 X. This laptop in name only weighs 8.8lbs and cost $8,999. It is stuffed from the display to the exhaust ports with the most and the best: two GeForce GTX 1080 cards in SLI mode, a quad-core Core i7-7820HK, 64GB of DDR4/2400, two Toshiba 512Gb NVMe M.2 drives, and a 1Tb hard drive and the Cherry MX brown mechanical keyboard and curved 21″ screen.

Who knows what could be in this year’s crazy PC? Part of the point is for it to be almost unimaginable. But it might start with AMD’s Ryzen Threadripper and bring in at least one Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. A 4K display seems obvious.

The voice-controlled smart home
The trend towards smart home systems controlled by voice will only accelerate this year. Expect to see a raft of smart speakers based on Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and perhaps a few on independently developed platforms. That number will be dwarfed by the collection of new products that can be controlled with voice commands, from smart TVs to irrigation systems to plumbing.

Bigger, brighter, smarter TVs
You can always count on TV manufacturers to put on a show at CES. Sony surprised with last year’s Bravia Sony XBR65A1E. This year, LG made news early by announcing it will show an 88″ OLED that delivers a staggering 8K of resolution (LG defines 8K as 7,680×4,320 pixels, continuing the industry’s trend of generously rounding specs up. The true definition of 8K is 8,192.)

We’ll have to wait to see if Panasonic, Samsung, Sony or the other major TV manufacturers follow suit, but it might not matter since 4K broadcasts are a ways off.

Expect to hear a lot about the various flavours of HDR (high dynamic range in the form of Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and other formats), HFR (high frame rate or 240Hz refresh rates), and trash talk as to which display technology – OLED vs LCD with quantum dots – is superior.

Faster home networks
2017 was all about home Wi-Fi systems, with newcomers like Eero, Luma, and Google going toe-to-toe with industry graybeards Linksys, Netgear, and D-Link to offer consumers a simpler means of blanketing their homes with Wi-Fi.

Lag is the chief dragon router manufacturers want to slay, so expect more routers like the Linksys WRT32X, which manage network traffic in the home. These types of routers allow users to prioritise traffic so that everyone gets a good experience, whether they’re playing games, streaming media, or just surfing the Web.

The proliferation of fibre connectivity, meanwhile, means gigabit ethernet ports could become bottlenecks, so perhaps we’ll see consumer networking hardware with 10GbE ports.

Meltdown and Spectre kill some buzz
At CES, cloud computing will take on a new meaning, because it’ll refer to the unexpected disclosure of security exploits on pretty much all CPUs.

Sure, the vast majority of the pall will form over Intel, because its CPUs could take a large performance hit under certain I/O loads when correcting for the exploit.

You do have to wonder whether the announcements, just days before CES, will hang over all computing devices (phones, tablets and PCs), because a different theoretical exploit happens to work on CPUs from Intel, AMD, and ARM.

Makes you want to just write important info down on a yellow stickie and put it under your typewriter.

IDG News Service

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