CES is an overwhelming tsunami of gadgetry, but it’s also a crucial look at the year ahead for tech. Here are a few of the trends we spotted at this year’s CES that are bound to echo out through the rest of 2020
An avalanche of folding screens
The era of folding screens started inauspiciously when Samsung’s Galaxy Fold almost launched, before widespread technical failures lead to a release delay of nearly half a year. But the Fold did launch in 2019, and Motorola’s foldable Razr reboot is slated to follow in the coming weeks.
CES 2020 only shows that the trend is bound to continue. Both Lenovo and Dell debuted foldable laptops at this years show; Dell’s a concept with no immediate plan for release, and Lenovo’s with a $2,500 price tag and mid-2020 release date. These won’t be the last folding-screen devices this year by a long shot. Last year, Microsoft announced its clamshell “Duo” phone and foldable Surface Neo dual-screen laptop, and while neither have folding screens, they confirm Microsoft’s commitment to supporting a folding form factor. Expect many more folding, dual-screen laptops this year.
The increasing prescence of 8K
Now that 4K TVs have become relatively widespread and affordable, TV manufacturers are pushing on 8K as the Next Big Format. Sets with 8K resolution displays (which are double the resolution of 4K, which is itself quadruple the resolution of Full HD) have been cropping up at CES for several years, but in 2020, they are poised to start hitting in the mainstream. Last September, the Consumer Technology Association formalized a standard for exactly what 8K means, and created a logo for qualifying sets to display. This means that, while companies have been selling so-called “8K” sets already, the industry now more or less agrees on what that means.
Even with that being the case, it would be wise to not pull the trigger on an 8K set yet. Just like when 4K started to take off, there is not a lot of content out there quite yet. TV makers will have to figure out how to navigate this chicken-and-egg scenario, but you have the luxury of just waiting a few years to see how they manage to do it.
Smart toiletries, for some reason
Wish your toothbrush were smarter? No? Too bad! Well, no one is going to keep you from buying a good-old manual brusher, but the pressure to buy an “intelligent” toothbrush is mounting. Smart toothbrushes have been simmering for a while, but this year Colgate and Oral-B both announced iPhone-connected brushes, while other companies dove into the deep end of “smart” toiletries like Bic’s AI-powered razor and, of course, the toilet paper robot, shown above. Obviously you don’t really need any of this, but don’t expect it to go away any time soon as bathroom-brands that traditionally trade in low-price fare continue to look for ways to break into the lucrative high-tech space.
The actual arrival of 5G
If there is one main theme of CES 2020, its long-simmering trends boiling over the top, and 5G is no exception. While there has been more talk of 5G in years past, there are more products sporting 5G capabilities than ever before. From Razer’s 5G router to Lenovo’s always-connected 5G Yoga laptop to TCL’s sub-$500 5G smartphones, the 5G generation of gadgets is starting to hit store shelves. A trend that, rumor has it, will culminate in a 5G iPhone this year. But given the relatively scant 5G coverage in the United States, 5G modems’ power-hungry nature and the fact that you probably don”t even need speeds this fast quite yet, it’s probably best to wait for things to shake out just one or two more years.
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