Consumer Reports: What to expect from CES this year

International CES, the huge annual consumer technology trade show, opens tomorrow at the Las Vegas convention center. We'll get our first glimpse at the latest innovations and high-tech gadgetry that's headed to the marketplace in 2017 and beyond.

Q. At last year's show, Samsung made headlines with their new smart refrigerator. Was that a fad, or can we expect to see even more connected appliances?

This year we do expect to see more appliances with WiFi built-in, and can be controlled with your smartphone.

Also, one of the big chip manufacturers told us all their vendors are asking for voice recognition capabilities. So you won't just be able to control your home with your phone but also with your voice.

Q. Cars now have a large presence at CES. What can we expect to see this year on the automotive front?

This year we expect to see even more autonomous features and cars and/or prototypes with near self-driving capabilities. Many companies working on self-driving technologies will be in Vegas, including automakers such as Honda and BMW, as well as parts suppliers such as Delphi, Continental, Autoliv, Mobileye, and Velodyne.

Delphi, which is hoping to sell its self-driving car system to an automaker by 2019, is setting up a demonstration involving everything from tunnels to bridges to clogged city streets—described as the most challenging test yet for a near-production automated vehicle. And Fiat Chrysler is expected to unveil its first electric car and some near self-driving features in its Pacifica minivan.

We also expect to see V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) and V2i (vehicle-to-infrastructure) technology rolled out. V2V is technology that enables cars to "talk" to each other, sharing data on their speed and positioning, giving them the ability to alert drivers of potential dangers. V2i technology enables cars to communicate with their surrounding public infrastructure. Audi recently announced they including this capability select 2017 model cars. Called Traffic Light Information, it enables the car to communicate with the infrastructure in select cities and metropolitan areas across the U.S. The car receives real-time signal information from the advanced traffic management system that monitors traffic lights via the on-board 4G LTE data connection.

Q. What are some home electronics trends you'll be watching for this week?

We expect to see more home assistants. Amazon Echo saw some competition with the Google Home this year. The week we'll see other digital home assistants like the Olly and the Rokid Pebble that have artificial intelligence, which allows you to speak to them using natural language and lets them respond more intelligently because of what they know about you. For instance, if you ask Google Home to play some music, it may suggest a playlist based on what you've listened to in the past. And,We think more and more companies are going to be showing off products that can be run by these home assistants.>

We also expect see more companies release their take on mesh home Wifi systems, following the footsteps of the eero and Google WiFi. Instead of one, often ugly, wireless router, mesh systems consist of multiple units that work seamlessly together to provide you fast Internet service throughout your whole house.

Q. And what about TVs? Will there be any major product news this week?

No major advances for TVs this year, which is good for consumers considering a leftover 2016 set, as it won't be out of date immediately.

  • 4K is now in the mainstream and prices continue to fall.
  • More models now have HDR (High Dynamic Range), which can yield better contrast and more realistic-looking images.
  • But the level of HDR performance will continue to vary based on brands and even models, making it a tough decision for consumers.
  • We expect at least one major brand to join LG offering OLED TVs, which topped our ratings this year
  • 3D, already ailing, is likely dead in 2017, except in theaters
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