CES 2012: Show Time Expectations

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The early days of 2012 mean one thing for our industry-- CES, which will kick off on Monday night US time (early Tuesday morning for the rest of us in Europe). What are we to expect from the world's biggest CE-related trade show this time around?

CESA final Microsoft keynote: Microsoft will be making a final big and expensive CES appearance this year. The Microsoft keynote (something of a CES tradition) will be the 14th and last, as the company prefers to make announcements following its own timeline. It also probably prefers to pay less for CES space, too. What should we see from Microsoft this year? No doubt a mixture of news Windows phones, Windows 8 tablets and XBox-related announcements.

Tablets, Tablets, Tablets: While the current king of tablets won't make an appearance-- Apple doesn't show up at CES-- expect a show floor packed with Android 4.0 (aka Ice Cream Sandwich) devices from vendors including Samsung, Sony, Asus, Motorola and Lenovo. We should also see Windows 8-powered tablets, as well devices carrying Intel processors.

The Future of TV: LG already announced it will be showing off a 55" OLED HDTV-- the biggest on the market yet. Vendors will also continue trying to push 3DTV to yet unwilling customers (including some glasses-free models), and a growing number of Start TVs running on either Android (in its Google TV guise) or any number of proprietary operating systems.

Ultrabooks: A growing list of vendors (including Lenovo, Asus, HP, Dell and Toshiba) will be showing ultra-slim laptops based on the Intel "Ultrabook" model. Following the Macbook Air example, ultrabooks offer decent processors, fast boot-up times, long battery lives and stylish designs. Processors come in 2 flavours-- Ivy Bridge (for currently available models) and the speedier Ivy Bridge (for models coming out post-Q2 2012). If the analysts are right, ultrabooks might also be the chance to save a rather gloomy PC industry, but as always only time will tell.

The Future of Mobile: A slew of new mobile phones should make a CES appearance. We wil be keeping an eye out for models from Sony (who now wholly owns Sony Ericsson), Panasonic (whose handsets will see a return to the European market) and Intel-powered handsets. The Nokia stand should also be of interest, while Corning will release something of breaking interest for the industry-- Gorilla Glass II.

Celebrity Cameos: For last (and probably least?), a number of famous faces will be showing up at this year's CES, just like they tend to do. The biggest name for 2012 is baby-faced warbler Justin Bieber, who'll be promoting Vietnamese robot maker TOSY. Rapper 50 "Fiddy" Cent will aso make a return appearance, while LL Cool J and Eliza Dushku will also show up. Exciting, right? CE is truly the rock 'n' roll of the new millennium.