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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.

Ford's completely revamped SYNC 3 infotainment platform will also make its first public debut. Announced in mid-December, it promises better touch, voice and app interfaces. But it's not just Ford: All the car companies and their technology suppliers are eager to show how connected and easy their systems are, now that smartphones have redefined what's intuitive and user-friendly.

We also expect to see advances in safety and autonomous-driving technologies: more sophisticated LiDAR and other sensors for seeing what's around the car, and more clued-in braking, steering and other systems for responding to what they see. This is great news in theory. In practice, it can be unsettling to see cars taking over major parts of the driving experience. But this is the future, folks.

In mobile, Sony might seize the moment

We don't usually expect too much from CES in the mobile space — at least not when it comes to Android smartphones and tablets. Intel and Nvidia typically announce Android-compatible mobile processors, but beyond that it's usually quiet until a few months later, when Mobile World Congress takes place in Barcelona.

However, rumors point to a fruitful 2015 for Android devices. Samsung may introduce new additions to its already extensive family of tablets. Acer and Asus remain prolific, and we expect to see both mid-range and high-end Android tablets from both manufacturers. 

Perhaps the biggest rumor in the Android realm is that Sony will debut its next-generation flagship devices at CES 2015. We certainly hope that's not the case, however, because it feels like Sony just released the Xperia Z3 family. An Xperia Z3 Ultra of sorts seems more plausible.

There are also rumors that LG has something up its sleeve — supposedly a reprise of its curved smartphone, the G Flex, which debuted around the same time last year. We're also expecting to see some product announcements from low- and mid-range manufacturers like ZTE and Alcatel One, though their devices don't always make headlines because their products are not immediately available in the U.S. 

And don't forget about the PC!

For PCs, the biggest news that will cut across all brands will be the unveiling of Intel's 5th-generation Broadwell-U chips. Consumers got a taste of Broadwell last year with the low-wattage Broadwell Y, otherwise known as the Core M. This time around, Broadwell U brings the new 14-nm process to more powerful Core i3, Core i5, and Core i7 chips. As we've seen with the Core M, the new process significantly reduces power consumption compared to the 4th-gen "Haswell" chip. The upshot? Notable increases in battery life on new laptops.

CES will see the usual conga line of new ultra-light laptops, convertibles and 2-in-1s, some of them debuting new technologies. Expect to see at least several tablets and laptops equipped with Intel's super-wicked RealSense depth-camera technology. Pen lovers who've glommed onto Microsoft Surface Pro series should also keep their eyes open for competing tablets with active pen support at CES.


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