The world's largest tech trade show rolls around again—and here are the gadgets we'll be looking out for

It's that time of year again: when the world's tech media descends on the Nevada desert en masse, ready to get their grubby hands all over the latest and greatest gadgets.

CES is the world's biggest tech trade show, taking over the entire Las Vegas strip with all manner of telly, tablet and turntable announcements; plus a whole lot of other things not beginning with T.

We'll be there, of course, reporting back on the electronics you'll be spending your hard earned cash on later in the year. But what exactly will that be?

The show might be a few weeks away (everything kicks off on Jan 9) but we've already got a good idea what to expect. Read on to get all the rumors and early news, plus a rundown on what we're hoping to see from big companies like Samsung, Sony, LG and the rest.

TVs: OLED all the way

CES has always been the show for new TVsMost of the major manufacturers show off their upcoming sets here, ready to launch before the summer. This year is going to be a bigger deal than usual, thanks to the World Cup—football's greatest trophy usually gives TV sales a huge boost in the run-up to kickoff, and 2018 should be no exception.

OLED will be big news, but LCD will be out in full force too. Expect an almost exclusive line-up of 4K TVs, with 1080p models relegated to the bargain basement—there could be a few budget models kicking around the show, but they won't be getting much attention from the crowds. 

In fact, 2018 might be the year of 8K resolution sets. Prototypes and concept screens have been on show for the past few years, but now that the HDMI 2.1 standard has been finalized, there's no reason a company couldn't sell a set right now.

And even if companies aren't ready to squeeze that many pixels on a screen, HDMI 2.1 should give us lots of other drool-worthy extras, like variable frame rate support. Think of it like Nvidia G-sync, but for your TV instead of your PC gaming monitor—meaning your future games console could play 30fps games with no visible screen tearing.

We'll be keeping an eye out for affordable OLEDs, too. Expect LG to knock it out of the park with another ridiculously thin new model, and other companies to wow us with their image processing tech. Samsung will be pushing its QLED sets in a big way, but unless they've made a giant leap in the past 12 months, an OLED set will surely be the star of the show.

Smartphones: a few surprises

CES isn't exactly smartphone central—if you're after a new blower, you're better off waiting for Mobile World Congress at the end of February. It doesn't mean there won't be a few big hitters making an appearance, though.

All eyes will be on Sony, with at least one Xperia slated to arrive during its press conferences. The latest rumor points towards a much-needed design change, with skinnier screen bezels that should make the Xperia line feel fresh again.

Samsung has already confirmed one phone for the show: the Galaxy A8, a mid-range alternative to the Galaxy S8 with a similar spec sheet and a few standout features, like dual front cameras for selfies with blurry backgrounds. Rumors had been swirling that the Galaxy S9 would be shown off, too (possibly behind closed doors and under embargo) but that seems like a long shot. There's no word of the foldable Galaxy X, either.

LG likes to wait until MWC for its big reveal, but there could be one or two mid-rangers making an appearance at this year's CES. Huawei may or may not have something to show, but sub-brand Honor will almost certainly be showing off the View 10 ahead of its global launch in January.

Other definites? There will be nothing new from Google and Apple. Both companies do their own thing at dedicated events, rather than share a stage with the rest of the tech world.

Laptops: thinner, lighter, longer lasting

January is a couple of months too late for back-to-school season, which is why most big laptop makers save their more affordable kit for Berlin's IFA show in September—but that doesn't mean CES offerings will be as dry as the Nevada desert.

Instead, you can expect flagship thin-and-light models from the likes of DellHPAcerAsus and Lenovo. Most will arrive with Intel's eighth-gen Core CPUs, but AMD will be looking to make a splash of its own with its Ryzen mobile chips.

Dell's awesome XPS 13 is overdue a performance upgrade, in both laptop and 2-in-1 form. The Lenovo Yoga convertibles could use an up-to-date flagship, too. OLED screens are probably the upgrade we're most looking forward to, but better battery life is always a good thing, too.

Insanely powerful gaming machines should make an appearance as well. Razer always tries to steal the show, usually with a mad prototype like the Ariana projector or three-screened Project Valerie laptop—might one of them actually make production this year? MSIAsus ROG, Gigabyte's Aorus and Lenovo's Legion sub-brands will all be ones to watch, too.

Audio: music to your ears

Hi-Fi will not be in short supply at CES—that much is guaranteed. You won't have to walk far before you'll be stumbling over all manner of amplifiers, speaker stacks and separates, but we don't have the requisite beards and knowledge of 70's jazz to get excited about 'em.

Instead, we'll be on the lookout for headphones. You can expect some seriously high-end cans from names like Audio-TechnicaFocalSennheiser and AKG, in both wired and wireless varieties. Active noise cancelling is going to be a big deal this year, so don't be surprised if some well-known models get updated with the ability to strip out background noise.

The other big trend will be truly wireless in-ears. With more smartphones ditching the headphone jack altogether, and Apple making a big splash with its Airpods, there are going to be plenty of companies trying to eliminate cables from the equation.

Cameras: the full 360

They only rarely make top billing at CES, but there's usually a handful of announcements to keep camera fans happy. Nikon isn't slated to attend the show at all, but CanonOlympus and Panasonic all have empty slots in their release schedules that could be filled by a CES reveal.

The biggest reveal could be the Panasonic GH5S, an upgraded version of the incredible Lumix GH5 with even more of a video focus, as well as improved low-light performance. An announcement during Panasonic's press conference seems most likely.

A new entry-level Olympus PEN (possibly the PEN E-PL9) could be officially confirmed during the show, and Canon has recently certified several new models (the EOS 2000D, EOS 3000D, EOS 4000D and EOS M50)—although these are purely rumors until we hear otherwise.

360-degree cameras could be a bigger deal than traditional shooters. With VR making a big splash last year's show, and becoming more affordable thanks to smartphone support, video creators are crying out for both cheaper and higher quality 360° cameras. Kodak and Ricoh are two big names, but more mainstream brands like Samsung and LG may also return to the fray. 

Wearables: fitter than ever

OK, this is where CES starts to get interesting. For the rest of the year, wearables basically means smartwatches, but at a tech trade show, anything goes.

An official CES preview event revealed some smart underpants that reduce radiation from smartphones, as well as an intelligent scarf designed to cut down on air pollution. Both will be at the show, and that only gives you a taste of the weird and wonderful things to expect.

Big names will be there too, of course. Fitbit may have its next big thing following the Ionic's launch this year, and Nokia may have a few surprises following its Withings purchase. We've got our fingers crossed for a new Garmin Fenix, easily one of our favorite sports watches of the past 12 months.

Drones: flying for longer

There are a few obvious omissions in our list so far.

Augmented and virtual reality are two of the biggest, with Microsoft's mixed reality headset program seeing plenty of interest from big names like Lenovo, Dell, Acer, Asus and HP. We're not going to see a brand new Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset, but either company could surprise—wireless setups seem the most likely candidates for a CES reveal. Otherwise, expect plenty of apps, games and software to work with existing hardware.

The other major category we'll be looking out for will be Smart Home tech. AI assistants should be built into just about everything, from speakers to fridge freezers, and all your kitchen equipment should be able to talk to each other. Loo roll holders that text you when you're running out of paper? Nothing is out of the question at CES.

Finally, we come to possibly the best bit about CES: all the other weird and wonderful bits of tech that don't fall into any obvious category. Just keep an open mind, because you never know what's going to make an appearance.

CES officially kicks off on Jan 9.


This story originally appeared on Stuff Singapore, bringing you what's next in the world of tech and gadgets, with a twist.