How’s your schedule looking for January 7 to 10? Not packed? Then you probably forgot CES was coming. And I can’t blame you, what with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the upcoming Christmas deals taking up so much precious time.
But the so-called holiday shopping season will soon be done, and once it is, you have no reason to continue ignoring the Consumer Electronics Show. The internationally renowned technology expo of Las Vegas got off to a timid start back in 1967 and rose to true prominence in the past decade, with both exhibitor and attendance numbers going through the roof.
According to official stats, over 150,000 people attended CES 2012 and roughly 3,000 exhibitors showcased a wide range of innovative products in 2013, the two numbers being all-time records.
Could it be a mere coincidence CES, like February’s MWC, grew so huge at exactly the same time that Android leaped to world fame heights? Don’t think so, which is why it’s become a tradition for us fanatics of Google’s mobile OS to look forward to the first two months of any given year almost as much as the last couple.
Alright, chitchat over, time to get cracking. Here’s an early preview of CES 2014, complete with all the Android-powered gear that could see daylight a month from now.
Will intro: Note 3 Lite, Tab 3 Lite, Grand Lite, Fame and Young Plus
The Koreans will undoubtedly unleash a flurry of both handhelds and tablets during the opening months of 2014, however CES may not be the ideal stage for some unveilings. The S5 and Note 12.2, for instance, are too big (pun intended) to not get their own press events.
At the other side of the spectrum, you have three toned-down, “Lite” versions of existing phones, plus a couple of follow-ups for dirt-cheap low-enders. Now don’t ask me why, but I feel Sammy sees CES as the ideal place to get these all out. Maybe the Tab 3 Lite too, albeit that thing might ultimately have to wait until MWC.
Near guarantees: Xperia Z2, Xperia Z1S
As Samsung basically snubbed CES 2013, the Android landscape was in dire need of a different hero. A show-stealer. Thankfully, Sony entered the stage and snatched the spotlight with the Xperia Z1 and ZL, at the time the world’s best, snazziest, fastest smartphones.
It’s thus only logical to expect a second serving at CES 2014, though my guess is the ZL doesn’t warrant a sequel. Instead, the Z2 “Avatar” may be chaperoned by the oft-rumored Xperia Z1S, aka the global version of the Z1 f, aka the Z1 mini.
The Xperia Tablet Z? Well, it’s nearly one year old, but there have been no rumors signaling a successor. And even if a new premium 10-incher is in store, it’s unlikely to go official before MWC.
Will launch: Smartwatch
I’m not really buying the alleged market name of LG’s future smartwatch (G Health? What’s that, a pharmacy?), but if the G2 makers have something in the pipeline for CES 2014, it’s probably this mysterious piece of wearable technology.
Nexus 8? No way it lands so early and at an event with so many fresh gizmos battling it out for the limelight. G2 Pro, aka 5.7 or 6 inch version of the G2? It’s a definite possibility, but secretly, I hope it’s not real as it doesn’t make much sense. And then there’s the G Flex, technically already out and about, yet in need of extra hype and so most definitely to be showcased further in glitzy Vegas.
Will: M8 or Butterfly 2
Even more than Samsung, HTC had a terribly shy presence at last year’s CES. Will lightning strike twice? No way to know for sure, but my prediction is no. The Taiwanese are by now desperate at seeing their market share shrink and you know what they say about desperate times.
That’s right, they call for desperate measures. Case in point, a precocious M8 intro to undermine possibly another early release, that of Samsung’s Galaxy S5. Assuming the “One Two” is not finished, a Butterfly 2 makes almost more sense, this time with an eye on a wider, possibly global rollout.
Will: All the above
If Samsung and HTC hold out on taking the wraps off the GS4 and One Two and Sony puts off Z2’s release, CES 2014 could well be Asus’ moment of glory. Granted, the PadFone mini, Chromebooks and low-cost Transformer sound quite niche-y and unimpressive, but the MeMoFone may truly be the company’s first ever bid for a spot under the high-end smartphone sun.
As in full-on, simple, bells and whistles-free smartphone, with no keyboard docks or similar doohickeys, just the best possible camera, biggest battery and zippiest CPU (Snapdragon 800, maybe 805?).
Just because they didn’t make the cut… yet and failed to get their own sections in our preview today, it doesn’t mean Motorola, Acer, Lenovo, Huawei, ZTE, HP, Oppo, Alcatel or Archos don’t have what it takes to potentially steal everyone else’s Vegas thunder next month.
For now, it’s simply a matter of knowing too little to get excited. First, there’s Moto, which, if present at CES, will probably look to further build buzz on the G. Acer and Lenovo have their sights almost solely set on budget-conscious tabs, HP has been an extremely busy bee of late and the first juicy Huawei gossip is only now starting to make the rounds.
Meanwhile, ZTE, Oppo, Alcatel and Archos are the very definition of underdogs, as is up-and-coming Vivo. But everyone likes an underdog, so don’t you ignore them. And keep in touch, as we plan to update the rumor roundup as we near the January expo. For now, stay safe and dream big.