CES 2022: What to Watch for This Year

What's in store for the largest consumer electronics show of the year?

CES 2022, scheduled for January 5 to January 8, will be back in Las Vegas after 2021's all-digital event. Here's what we expect to see.

CES Begins Now

Before digging into specifics, know this. CES is already here.

While the show officially starts on January 5 and runs to January 8, companies start planning months ahead for the show. However, most announcements go live between New Year's Day and the first day of CES. Other announcements are embargoed under a non-disclosure agreement but will leak anyway, leading to a steady stream of new information leading up to the show's first official day.

In short, keep your eyes peeled. Companies will reveal thousands of products in the run-up to CES.

A Focus on Health Tech

The concerns that forced CES to go all-digital for 2021 caused a rush towards health tech, a category that was already trending upwards in prior years. You can expect to see every company reference continuing public health concerns, and many will have at least one product that wouldn't have appeared any other year.

Tech companies should continue to offer a variety of masks that either promise to improve the effectiveness of a standard mask or combine the mask with other popular tech. AT CES 2021, Maskfone, from Motorola, combined a facemask with audio. The xHale mask promised high-tech filtering that's suitable for athletes. LG, meanwhile, touted the effectiveness of its personal, face-mounted air purifier.

Not all innovations will be focused on masks. Another area of health focus will be telehealth. Telemedicine was already a growing field, but with the need for social distancing, several companies are working towards a more seamless televisit for routine care needs.

While you'll see plenty of real health tech innovation, be warned. Companies often show unproven health tech at CES, and the claims made aren't always backed by science. You're sure to see many UV-light sanitizers, for example. While UV-light can sanitize, it only works well under specific conditions that some companies won't bother to acknowledge.

More Digital Conferences?

CES attracts more than 170,000 attendees, and that vast number doesn't include companies hosting off-site events not officially tied to the show. The show's identity revolves around in-person attendance. However, the Consumer Technology Association, the organization responsible for CES, is opting for a hybrid event in 2022 which includes the normal in-person conference and digital exhibits.

Companies have hosted scores of digital events through 2020 and 2021. They usually suffer a stuffy, stilted presentation, not to mention the video and audio quality issues that can occur when multiple presenters are at the same video conference.

Lots and Lots of Televisions

The gravity of CES has shifted towards the home theater industry over the past two decades. Although always a strong presence at the show, it has become more critical as large slices of the consumer tech industry, like smartphones, gaming, and home computers, have moved to other targeted events.

CES 2022 will continue to see fierce competition in the television space, and not only from the usual suspects. Manufacturers like Vizio, TCL, and Hisense are challenging big names like Samsung, Sony, and LG, delivering excellent TVs at lower prices. The ongoing battle between the new and old-guard brands always leads to big, flashy announcements at CES.

An LG OLED television displaying the video game Control at CES 2020

Lifewire / Matthew S. Smith

All major TV brands are shifting away from traditional LED televisions and toward newer, better technology. OLED televisions from LG, Sony, and Vizio lead the change, but they're not alone. TCL and Samsung are exploring mini-LED technology, which uses thousands of tiny LED backlights to improve contrast and brightness.

Gaming will also take center stage, thanks to the Microsoft Xbox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5. Their popularity means TV brands will spend more time talking up gaming-focused features in hopes gamers will pick up a new TV alongside a new console. As for handheld gaming, Valve Corporation's Steam Deck, with its tentative release in December 2021 should continue to be part of the CES conversation.

Tons of Laptops, Too

CES is also an essential show for companies that make PC hardware. Asus, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, and HP come to the show packing their latest and greatest. AMD, Intel, and Nvidia also traditionally make hardware announcements during CES.

New laptops are often the focus, particularly for Asus, Acer, and Lenovo, companies headquartered in China or Taiwan that use CES as an opportunity to show North American consumers what they'll offer over the coming year. Expect to see many gaming laptops, most packing displays that refresh at 144Hz, or faster.

An Acer ConceptD laptop sitting next to CES 2020 Innovation Award

Lifewire / Matthew S. Smith

Lenovo will pitch its latest ThinkPad and ThinkCentre hardware, focusing on home offices and remote work. Dell and HP, which have strong enterprise brands, will come in strong with new professional-grade hardware. These systems will be impressive, but they also won't be cheap.

While laptops are likely to remain the center of attention, expect the PC hardware industry to cast a very wide net. The surge in demand for monitors, webcams, keyboards, and other devices people need to work from home was high in 2020 and 2021. That demand hasn't let up, and CES 2022 will give big brands a chance to detail more products for the work-from-home lifestyle.

And Plenty of Home Tech

The smart home category was already hot. Once an also-ran lumped into other categories, home tech received dedicated space at recent shows, spotlighting the acceleration of smart home tech as a key classification.

Unlike most categories, where a specific type of product tends to dominate, the smart home has no apparent center of gravity. Health products like air purifiers or home air quality detectors will continue to be popular at CES 2022, but they're far from alone. In 2021, Cuisinart showcased a food processor that also cooks for you. And Loftie had a smart clock that promises to make your morning alarm a bit more gentle. Finally, Xandar showed off its smart home radar that can detect and track residents.

Also, expect announcements from large companies, like Samsung and LG, which often use CES to show off their latest smart appliances. This category has struggled to achieve mainstream acceptance, but that hasn't stopped the big brands from trying.

In 2021, LG demonstrated a refrigerator that can detect users with voice recognition and continued to push its InstaView technology, a window that lets owners browse their fridge before opening it.

Car Tech Makes a Comeback

The automotive industry, increasingly forced to embrace high-tech electric powertrains and in-car infotainment, became a popular fixture at CES in recent years. Significant brands like BMW, Ford, and Mercedes debuted high-tech concepts and whisked away attendees in self-driving electric cars. The show's North hall was almost entirely devoted to automotive tech at CES 2020.

A Mercedes AVTR concept on stage with host explaining its features

Mario Tama / Getty Images

CES 2022 should be a welcome return to normality, at least within the realm of a new normal.

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