Tech Guide

Here's what to expect at CES this year: Smart homes, robots, TVs and more

Key Points
  • CES 2018 kicks off next week; it's one of the biggest consumer electronic shows of the year.
  • Autonomous vehicle tech, laptops, TVs and smart home products are all expected.
  • One expert says this year will be about fulfillment of promises made in previous years.
LAS VEGAS, USA - JANUARY 08 : A woman tries virtual reality and wearable technology product during the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA on January 08, 2017. (Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Anadolu Agency | Getty

This year's CES, formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show, kicks off next week in Las Vegas. In previous years, it's been home to major announcements, including new computers, TVs, smart home appliances, autonomous car technology and more.

This year might change a bit compared with last year, according to at least one expert interviewed by CNBC.

CES 2018 "is a 'fulfillment' one where we won't see as much 'vision' but more companies delivering on the promises made last year," Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told CNBC.

"We will see improvements and refinements versus big-picture vision. We will see home automation work better, be more reliable and support more ecosystems," he said.

Here's what you can expect from the show.

Autonomous technology

A woman gets in a self-driving Chevy Bolt EV car during a media event by Cruise, GM’s autonomous car unit, in San Francisco, California, November 28, 2017.
Elijah Nouvelage | Reuters

Autonomous cars have become a staple at CES over the past few years — and that likely won't change this year. Manufacturers from BMW to Audi offer test drives of new vehicles — Audi even drove an autonomous car from San Francisco to Las Vegas for CES 2017. "Cars will be announced with very sophisticated driving systems that aren't automated fully, but help prevent accidents better," Moorhead said.

Smart home

The Echo Plus looks great around the house
Todd Haselton | CNBC

Expect to see lots of smart home gadgets during the show. Last year, for example, LG introduced new refrigerators with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant built in. This year, we already know that Amazon is partnering with appliance makers to build Alexa into new products such as microwaves and conventional ovens. Huge players in the space, ranging from August smart locks to Ring (makers of the Ring doorbell) and Philips Hue will be at the show with announcements, too.


Qualcomm CEO Steve Mollenkopf speaks during a keynote address at CES 2017 on January 6, 2017 in Las Vegas.
Getty Images

Qualcomm and U.S. wireless carriers are likely to discuss 5G, the next generation of wireless networks, which should begin rolling out over the next couple of years in the U.S. AT&T confirmed this week that it will roll out 5G to customers this year, and it will offer much faster speeds than 4G LTE, the current standard. It'll be used for everything from streaming 4K video to mobile devices to connected autonomous cars.

New TVs


Samsung, LG and other firms typically use CES as a launchpad for new TVs that will hit the market later in the year. "We will see sexier, higher resolution, larger 4 and 8k TVs," Moorhead said.

LG has already said it will show off the largest 8K OLED TV, which may be an early highlight of the show. Also, expect to hear about advancements in smart TV software, the interfaces that you interact with on connected television sets. LG, for example, has used CES to show new versions of its webOS software.

Laptops and tablets

Devin Hance | CNBC

While Apple doesn't use CES to announce new products, its competitors still do. Expect to see new laptops from major brands, including Samsung and Lenovo, which typically use the event to show off new machines.

"PCs will be more refined with the addition of longer-lasting batteries and LTE and a few super-thin laptops with big gaming graphics," Moorhead said.

Microsoft recently announced a partnership with Qualcomm for new Snapdragon-powered always-connected laptops. They aren't on the market yet, and we expect to see some of the new ones firsthand during the show. One big question we'll be looking to answer: How will these compare with Intel machines?


LG robot designed to clean airports.
Source: LG

Don't expect Rosie from The Jetsons just yet, but we'll certainly see some new robots at CES. LG has already confirmed it will show off new concept robots during the show. Another firm, Seven Dreamers, will show off a new robot named Laundroid that's capable of folding laundry.

Smart glasses and VR

Intel virtual reality Vive interactive demo at NYFW on Feb. 11, 2016.
Adam Jeffery | CNBC

We'll likely see new mixed-reality headsets — or existing ones with new features — that use Microsoft's Windows 10 platform during the show. Additionally, firms such as Occipital and Madgaze plan to show off new smart glasses that use augmented reality to place digital information on top of the real world.

Oculus used to make big announcements during CES, but it already made a few late last year when it announced the standalone $199 Oculus Go headset. Facebook's competitor in the space, HTC, will be at the show with the HTC Vive. Perhaps we'll see new announcements around that platform.


Huawei's Mate 10 Pro comes in two colors, mocha brown and midnight blue.
Saheli Roy Choudhury | CNBC

CES was once used for new smartphone announcements, but we probably won't hear much on that front here from brands you're familiar with. Still, Huawei is expected to announce its plans to take on Apple and Samsung in the U.S., potentially with its new and maybe even carrier partnerships — the first of its kind for Huawei. Its sub-brand, Honor, is also expected to have similar announcements. While Huawei might not be a household name in the U.S. right now, CES could be a turning point for that.