Every year at CES, we are bombarded with a plethora of new devices and technologies, which are both exciting and confusing. Despite the confusion, though, there are usually a few new themes that present themselves each year. While there are sure to be plenty of innovative and surprising things as well, here are five things that I think will be prevalent throughout many of the announcements.
1. Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich: Google's latest update to the Android operating system not only brings new features, but a completely revamped and much bette UI. It is certainly the best version of Android yet, and perhaps the most competitive mobile OS out there. As such, you can expect to see it running on all kinds of devices, from large, to small, to things you never though could run Android.
2. HD or high resolution displays on mobile devices: The iPhone 4's 960 x 640 "retina" display was the best in the market for quite a while, but finally everyone else is beginning to catch up. Phones like the Galaxy Nexus and HTC Rezound already have 720p displays that outmatch the iPhone's, and rumor has it that Samsung is preparing a pixel dense "retina" tablet with an obscenely high resolution. Regardless of whether that specific rumor is true, I think we will be seeing a lot of high resolution displays and hopefully less 800 x 480 this year.
3. Quad-core processors: There are currently a couple mobile devices powered by quad-core chips that you can get your hands on, but they have not reached the mass market yet. So, there is a lot of opportunity to grab headlines with the "first quad-core this" and "first quad core that." Hopefully they will be the standard in most high-end devices announced, but even if they are not I expect to see quite a few of them powering some of the more important products.
4. 4G LTE: 2011 was supposed to be the year of 4G LTE adoption, but it turned out to be more of a year of LTE testing. Now, however, with both Verizon and AT&T having established solid bases for their LTE networks and Sprint quickly building theirs, there is a real potential for LTE devices to become standard and commonplace.
5. Windows Phone 7 and Nokia: So far, we have seen precious little come out of the Nokia/Microsoft deal, and are are still eagerly awaiting any new news. CES should finally bring us some of the great Nokia hardware we have been waiting for. Even if Nokia saves things for Mobile World Congress, with the increasing popularity of Windows Phone 7 there should be plenty of other manufacturers jumping on the bandwagon.
Bonus: 7-inch tablets: Originally, I wasn't planning to put this on the list, but recent events have convinced me otherwise. Between the Kindle Fire, the release of some new 7-inch hardware, and especially the rumor that Google themselves may be overseeing the production of a 7-inch Ice Cream Sandwich device, I think it is quite possible that we will see an uptick in the number of 7-inch devices at CES.
This is just a partial list of the things I think will be common at CES, but there could obviously be many more. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments, or even post what you think will surprise everyone at this year's CES.