CES 2013: Our Impressions
This year’s Consumer Electronics Show from Las Vegas has come and gone. As usual, we’ve been both on-site bringing you coverage from events as well as the show floor, and here on Pocketnow, keeping you up to date with what’s going on in the mobile world.
For some the show has been excellent; for others it has been a letdown. We can’t compare CES to a specialized mobile event like MWC (maybe with IFA); still, our experience from past years has taught us to expect certain things to happen at CES. They might or might not have happened in a straightforward way but there was a lot of innovation this year too.
We’ve gathered our CES 2013 thoughts together for you, in one place. After being there and seeing (hearing) it all, here’s what the Pocketnow Editors think about the first show of the year, let it be mobile or related.
Samsung has already decided to join the list of those companies, like Apple, which are holding their own, special, dedicated press events for major announcements. We’ve seen that last year with the Galaxy S III and I believe we’ll see it this year too, with the Galaxy S IV. Of course, the Note II was announced at IFA but chances are, with the growing popularity of the phablet, that 2013 will also bring a dedicated event for the hybrid. Unfortunately, other companies will also move away from shows for their flagships.
We’ve seen lots of new processors and SoCs at the show which is a clear indication not only that the industry is continuously moving forward but also that we’ll see some very interesting — and insanely fast — devices come out this year. There were also lots of phones and tablets at CES but it is our subjective impression that something was missing; we’re not totally wrong if you come to think about what Samsung, Nokia, HTC, Motorola, and the others had to show in terms of phones and tablets.
It is also my gut feeling that this year’s MWC — which Michael Fisher and myself will be covering extensively — will be epic. All those OEMs that didn’t show us what we were expecting will probably make up for it in Barcelona.
After all is said and done, CES 2013 was a great show. With technology evolving at an insanely fast pace, we’re getting closer and closer to Michael Fisher’s webOS toaster and my Android-powered dishwasher.
The spotlight at CES was actually on 4k televisions, which will have interesting implications on smartphones and tablets in years to come. Yes, you guessed it: in the future, tablets and smartphones will come with 4k resolution. While it might indeed be overkill (for phones especially), the cost of producing a 4k panel will be such that manufacturers will be saying “why not?” when considering what resolution to place on a device.
Around that time (around five years is my guess), there will have been advancements in processing and battery technology to allow smaller devices to push that many pixels, and of course, 4k will be reserved for high-end devices. Also, with the industry agreeing on the 4k resolution standard, movies and other content will natively come in this higher resolution, beating out 1080p as more and more people buy into the 4k revolution.
CES 2013 was an interesting show to cover. I really didn’t know what I was getting into last year, but both years have been a fun and crazy ride. It’s really something that you have to tackle yourselves to understand, but all-in-all a great experience we enjoyed sharing with you all. Now that said, I wish I felt the same about what CES meant to our primary target which is mobile devices. Just like last year, I’ve noticed that I always leave wanting more. You’d assume that the monster-of-all tech shows would be filled with mobile since that’s where the future is moving towards, but sadly that wasn’t the case. 2012 showed us that mobile is too big for CES, even if it comes with a sense of irony. Every company wants to make a dent in the market, and sadly sharing the floor with others dilutes their branding.
I am happy that Sony took advantage of the show though. I have lots of high hopes for the Xperia Z as my future daily driver. It’s just sad to see no carriers announced, no pricing, and no dates. Sounds like the perfect bait for all the devices that will be launched at MWC to devour on, and if we used history as a point of reference, you bet it’ll repeat itself. Other than Sony, the rest of the companies have their cards still tucked under their sleeve, and this is actually a good thing. Stay tuned for more as the year develops.
Now that CES 2013 has drawn to a close, I look back fondly on what has to be my favorite of all the shows we cover. Others on the staff prefer other shows because they deal more with smartphones and tablets than CES does. I don’t blame them, after all, Pocketnow.com is all about those devices. My interest in CES has to do with integration. Smartphones, phablets, and tablets are wonderful devices, but they’re true utility centers around the ability to let us communicate with and control the world around us. Today’s devices have gotten the “communicate” part down fairly well, but the “control” and automation bits are still in their infancy. CES offers us a glimpse into those integration points and helps us peek into the future to see what the connected devices of tomorrow could be.
This year we saw connected appliances, wireless charging, and the processors that will power all the devices in our future. MWC is coming up and we’ll see more about how the technologies and products introduced at CES will be realized in the smartphones and tablets we’ll be seeing for the next year. So, while others may focus on one or two areas that they like about this year’s CES, I prefer to step back and admire the progress that we’ve seen so far, and peer off toward the horizon of what we’ll see in the coming months.
CES 2013 marked the culmination of a decade-long ambition of mine – namely, to go to CES. And though I was thankful for the chance to make a dream come true, and while I enjoyed the opportunity to get hands-on time with a boatload of new gadgets amid friends and colleagues from Pocketnow and beyond, I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. For smartphone and tablet lovers, this year’s CES was nowhere near a blockbuster.
I elaborate on that feeling in the CES wrap-up I wrote last week called “The Worst Best Show Ever,” which I encourage you to read for my full thoughts on the matter. On a more positive note, though, I should mention that my mood leaving CES was buoyed by a trend many other tech journalists have noted: the show, now in its 46th year, is becoming less a playground for megacorporations, and more a proving ground for smaller startups.
These undersized companies, powered by little more than ambition and good ideas, often bring more compelling products to the show floor than the iterative upgrades from the massive conglomerates. That they manage to show off such awesome products as the NectarMobile fuel cell and the Pebble SmartWatch despite their relatively small budgets and teams is a testament to the power of small groups of motivated people, and it’s what keeps the future of shows like CES exciting.
Chief News Editor
Trade shows like CES always find themselves struggling to achieve an uncomfortable balance: we want to see lots of new hardware that’s coming soon to stores near us, and we also want to be blown-away by reveals of next-generation technology. This year, we got a little of each, but not enough of either to really get excited over.
It might have been more interesting if HTC hadn’t already released 1080p Androids late last year, because that’s really as good as things got for smartphones at the 2013 CES. With tablets, at least we got to see Panasonic’s crazy 4K resolution Windows 8 panel, which actually did a pretty good job of being both next-gen and on a commercial release track; it’s a shame it’s just so ridiculously large and outside our normal scope of easily-portable tablets.
The one place where this CES really came through was in news of upcoming SoCs. Of course, that’s a little bittersweet, as now we can’t help but view all these current phones as running on soon-to-be-outdated silicon, but it was great to hear all those chips confirmed, and give us an outline for what to expect performance-wise over the course of the next year.
The Pocketnow Reader
Let us know of your thoughts in the comments below. What do you think when looking back at everything that happened at this year’s CES? Tell us, tell the others, how excited or disappointed you are about a company, product, its presence or absence from Las Vegas.