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What to expect at CES 2015: 4K TVs, Broadwell chips and the smart home

Mark Hachman, PCWorld Editors | Jan. 5, 2015
For years, consumer technology has resided in two rooms: the office, and the living room. At CES 2015, expect it to colonize the rest of the home.

For years, consumer technology has resided in two rooms: the office, and the living room. At CES 2015, expect it to colonize the rest of the home.

That's not to say that you won't find traditional PCs and televisions this week in Las Vegas. But consumer firms have moved beyond those mature, traditional markets into mobile technology, wearables, and cars — and they keep moving. This year, the theme of the show may very well be the connected home, as smartphones and tablets take on a new role as control devices for the Internet of Things.

Here are a few names to keep an eye out for: EchoStar (home automation), Dish (an over-the-top video service?), Intel (new Broadwell PCs), Ford (its new SYNC3 entertainment system) and Samsung (just about everything).

Staff from PCWorld, Macworld, Greenbot, and TechHive will be on the show floor at CES this week, scoping out the tech you'll want to know more about, then buy in 2015. Here's what we know so far.

Smart home becomes a networked playground

In 1999, TiVo and DVRs defined CES. In 2014, so did wearables. In 2015, it'll be the connected home. There was a time when this technology was accessible only to hardcore hobbyists and wealthy households with the means to hire custom installers. That time has passed. 

Until recently, most smart-home products depended on a central hub for control. That's the established way of doing things, and EchoStar, the company behind the Slingbox and Dish Network's Hopper set-top box, will be showing what looks to be a very complete connected-home system. Dubbed Sage, the set-top will be capable of handling lighting controls, door locks, security cameras, thermostats, and all manner of sensors. Despite that complexity, EchoStar is positioning Sage as a DIY system.

We also expect new additions to Belkin's WeMo home automation line, and possibly D-Link's connected-home ecosystem as well. Netgear is supposed to ship its new Arlo home-security camera. Note the trend: networking companies expanding into connected-home peripherals. On that front, we could also see more "Wave 2" 802.11ac routers join the ranks of the Asus RT-AC87U and Netgear Nighthawk X4.

Meanwhile mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are stepping in to replace those hubs, controlling products like a new wave of smart LEDs we expect to compete with the Philips Hue product line.

In appliances, CES is a kind of dreamy futurescape, where manufacturers can take a break from staid metal boxes and show off gadget prototypes straight out of The Jetsons. In past years, the futuristic appliances we've seen at CES were all about connecting you to the Internet — but does anyone need to Facebook from their refrigerator? This year, expect to see function triumph over the outlandish, with integrated smart appliances that share information about your activities to make your home hum along seamlessly. Will the next Nest pop up at CES? We'll have to wait and see.


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