As a barometer of the tech scene, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in January at Las Vegas arguably sets the tone for the year. In some cases, it could be a few years in advance, as not all the tech gadgets and devices showcased there gets widely adopted or even released to the market that year. You could say that what you find at trade shows like CES consist of educated (and hopeful) guesses by manufacturers on what will take off later that year.
With that in mind, 2011 is looking like a repeat of 2010. Last year, the hype at CES was about 3D TVs and tablets. From the speculations about Microsoft's traditional keynote to yet another vendor planning to relaunch its tablet lineup at the show and the news of designer 3D glasses, it seems that the same tech themes that dominated the show in 2010 are back again for a second attempt.
Of the two, I'm personally more optimistic about tablets. As the Apple iPad showed, there are enough users out there willing to pay for such devices and with Google hopefully getting its Android act together with Honeycomb, the momentum will be there for a flood of tablets to hit the market. Already, we have seen a number of tablets sneaking out at the end of 2010 despite the lack of a proper tablet OS (no matter what Microsoft says about using Windows 7 for tablets).
As a sidenote, we will finally see NVIDIA's Tegra 2 SoC gracing the internals of many a tablet, more than a year after the company made such a fuss about it. Together with NVIDIA getting its mojo back on the discrete graphics front, I'm betting that its share price will get a much needed boost next year.
As for 3D TVs, the fact is that the amount of content has been disappointing. There aren't that many 3D movies out on Blu-ray and the premium for these TVs and its supporting devices have surely held back sales. Hence, all eyes will be on SingTel mio TV's maiden 3D TV screening of Despicable Me, a video-on-demand initiative that should give an estimate on the potential of the local 3D TV market.
So, you can expect a very similar lineup of tech gadgets for CES 2011 - hopefully cheaper and improved - and perhaps we may see some of them getting the mass adoption that vendors are craving for. For everything about CES 2011(from 6th to 9th Jan), keep a lookout for our onsite coverage next month.
Vincent Chang / Former Senior Tech Writer
Vincent has written enough about tech to know that he doesn't know enough about tech. But that's not keeping him from going jargon-heavy about processors and mobos. After all, "you can't stop the signal".