CES 2017: What to expect at next year's massive tech show

Samsung, Sony, LG and more take over Las Vegas

Update: Is Sony finally ready to go OLED? The latest on the electronics denizen is that it will unleash its first OLED TV in the latter part of 2017. However, Sony could use CES as an opportunity to talk up its take on the crisp screen tech, especially if it plans to sell its offerings at a lower price than competitors. 

CES 2017 promises to live up to the Las Vegas expo’s reputation as the place to see what’s next in tech. Whether eye-popping TVs, futuristic cars, shiny mobile devices, mind-boggling virtual reality or amazing cameras, CES rarely disappoints when it comes to showcasing must-have kit.

The official CES 2017 dates are January 5 through January 8, 2017, though as always, there will be plenty of pre-show announcements on January 3 and January 4

We've already heard whispers about what's in store for the coming CES, and you'll find the latest rumors and news detailed below. We also have our own expectations for the annual tech bacchanal, and have included these for your reading pleasure as well.

TV is still king

Looking into our crystal ball, we see televisions continuing to rule the roost, with manufacturers trying to one-up each other with their latest big-screen innovations. 

As our Senior Home Entertainment Editor Nick Pino points out, all of the big players will come to Las Vegas looking to prove their TV tech is the best. LG will tout its OLED screens, Samsung will talk up SUHD and Sony will likely have something to say about Android TV and OLED, if the latest rumors are correct. 

Expect the typical 4K TV reveals, though we could easily see displays pushing 8K and beyond. Of course, the latter are uber-unrealistic purchases for the average shopper, but they remain a tantalizing looks at where TV is headed.  

What's more, CES is the time for outrageous concepts, so if it bends, rolls up or cooks you dinner, it might just show up in Vegas. 

Beyond pixel count, the big TV talk at CES 2017 will likely surround High Dynamic Range (HDR), and particularly how the Dolby Vision format stacks up against HDR10. 

For more on that battle, check out our comprehensive HDR10 vs Dolby Vision comparison.

But why should you care about HDR? Netflix manager of corporate communications Yann Lafargue put it like this to TechRadar: "HDR is a new standard for home entertainment. It's a big leap forward in colour, contrast, and brightness, as significant as the addition of surround sound, or the introduction of HD and 4K. It offers a new set of tools we can use to make bright and colourful scenes really pop, and at the same time, bring out more detail in dark scenes."

HDR tech is the most discussed TV feature these days, and we expect plenty of chatter around it and HDR content during CES.

While not a proper TV, a new report suggests Nvidia will unveil a new bit of Android TV gear at CES 2017. 

The word comes from an anonymous source speaking with SlashGear . The new device will reportedly stick with the Nvidia Shield Android TV name and feature an upgraded controller and remote. 4K content will also be a focus for Nvidia, according to the report.

Cars, cars and more cars

Followers of CES will note the gathering has turned into something of a car show in recent years, and CES 2017 looks to be no different.

In fact, one car maker that made a splash at CES 2016 has already confirmed it's coming back to Las Vegas:

Electric car maker Faraday Future is following up a gorgeous concept reveal at its inaugural CES with the unveiling of its first production car. The company said in an email this roadster "will be a premium electric vehicle that combines extreme technology, industry leading range, and holistic design."

Whatever this "extreme technology" is, we can't wait to see.

The young car maker is releasing a number of teasers in the lead up to its big CES reveal, and you can catch the latest ones below: 

Faraday will likely be far from alone when it comes to showing off its wares. The likes of Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Volvo, Chevy, VW and Kia all had news to share at CES 2016, and we expect more from these car makers this year. 

Add to that Nissan Motor Corporation head Carlos Ghosn is set to deliver a keynote, and CES has motor oil spilled all over it.

The major movement in the car tech space is towards self-driving (just look at Tesla), so it wouldn't surprise us in the slightest for automotive attendees to announce advancements, concepts and release plans for the tech in their cars. 

Heck, they may even take CES goers for a self-driving spin down the Strip, and in fact, Hyundai plans to do just that.

The car maker will take conference-goers for a spin in its Autonomous Ioniq, as well as show off its developments in connectivity, autonomous driving, eco-friendly transportation, personal mobility and health care.

Delphi and Mobileye have also announced they'll conduct a 6.3-mile drive in challenging real-world conditions to show off the Centralized Sensing Localization and Planning (CSLP) automated driving system. 

CSLP won't be ready for production until 2019, but it's described as "the first turnkey, fully integrated automated driving solution with an industry-leading perception system and computing platform." Las Vegas be a good proving ground for the tech, and we'll be on hand to tell you how it goes. 

For its part, Volvo plans to discuss news regarding artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicle advancements during its January 4 press conference. Smarter cars that take you where you want to go? Count us in.

Finally, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang is set to deliver a keynote, during which he'll "discuss the latest in artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, VR, and gaming." The chip giant is a big advocate for self-driving cars, recently announcing a tiny super computer to power them, so expect Huang to talk at length about the emerging technology. 

Viva virtual reality

Virtual reality is here. Don't believe us? Just check out our reviews of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. Go on, we'll wait.

Consumers may have VR headsets in hand, or will soon, but what's still lagging behind is content, and that's where we expect - or at least hope - the focus will be at this year's CES. 

It's not just game makers we're talking about when it comes to content, but movie studios and streaming services need to step up their VR game, even expanding into new areas like comic books and visual novels. If they don't, it's going to be a rough year for the tech as consumers won't have a solid enough reason to buy a headset, as cool as they may look. 

We may also see some mobile and cheaper VR offerings make the trek to CES. Though pure conjecture, we wouldn't be surprised if new Windows 10 VR headsets from HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and/or Acer are unveiled right alongside laptops, monitors and desktops. 

We say this because in mid-October, Microsoft announced VR headsets were on the way from these very companies for the tantalizing starting price of $299 (about £245, AU$295). 

CES is the perfect place to highlight new VR wares as the devices will get the benefit of the world's attention without their respective companies having to hold a big standalone launch event. 

Phones go waterproof ... and 4K?

CES isn't know for its phones - those are usually reserved for Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a short time later - but that doesn't mean handsets won't make an appearance at CES 2017. 

We saw the reveal of the Huawei Mate 8 at CES 2016, and with the Chinese firm looking to make a splash in the US, unveiling a new phone at the coming edition seems like a sure thing. 

An early November rumor points to Sony unveiling new Xperia phones during CES, including one that sports a 5.5-inch 4K display and 4GB of RAM. Could this be the long-awaited Xperia X2? We should find out during the firm's January 4 press conference at 5pm local time (1am GMT/12pm AEST), or perhaps even beforehand. 

If the likes of LG and Sony join Huawei in launching a new smartphone, we expect the devices to follow the trend set by the iPhone 7 - namely, waterproof and headphone jack-less. 

To compete with the most popular flagships, these devices will need to come packing the latest features and at an attractive price. While the handsets may not be on the level of, say, the Samsung Galaxy S8, they could be enough to tempt consumers to try something new.

Drones, wearables and more! 

As for what else to expect at CES, drones made a big impression at the last version of the show, particularly in the form of the fixed-wing, auto-pilot Parrot Disco. A drone in every shape and size is likely for CES 2017, so keep your eyes to the skies.

On the wearable front, players like Samsung and Fitbit could once again give us a reason to be excited about gadgets that straps to our wrists, but also look for devices that go elsewhere on your body, like the Muse meditation headband we saw at CES 2016. 

Computing always comes on strong at CES, and one machine we know we'll see is the Dell XPS 13. The company confirmed as much to TechRadar, saying a convertible hybrid version of the Dell XPS 13 will debut at the show. That makes our job a little easier!

Dell also teased on November 2 that it plans to unveil its vision for the future of desktops at CES, likely during its January 5 press conference, which promises to hold a few surprises. 

The computer giant looks set to unveil the Smart Desk, a PC with a knobby peripheral, second screen and plenty of room to work on - literally. Smart Desk is already drawing comparisons to Microsoft's Surface Studio, so we'll see which one comes out on top early next year.

Also look for the likes of Lenovo, MSI, HP and other computer producers to share their latest wares, from ultra-light laptops to eye-piercing monitors to innovations designed around virtual reality.  

Last but not least, audio will make sound waves as it always does, and we expect to see more companies come out with multi-room audio solutions similar to Sonos. More soundbars should pack Dolby Atmos, and we predict a bigger push for object-based audio systems, or systems that support either Dolby Atmos or DTS:X.

Stay tuned as we keep this page constantly updated with the latest CES news and rumors leading up to the show! 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle is TechRadar's Senior News Editor and is based in the Bay Area. Covering all things tech, Michelle is obsessed with good handsets, smart machines and self-driving cars. With an eye on every corner of the industry, Michelle aims to bring you the most useful and entertaining bits about the tech you love. Got a tip? Drop her a line!