This story is part of, where our editors will bring you the latest news and the hottest gadgets from fully virtual CES 2021.
It will be alike no other, because we experience it remotely from all over the world on our own screens. CES will always do what CES does best: showcase the latest innovations and ideas in technology and set the agenda for what happens in the industry in the months and years to come. CNET will cover each category with our team of experienced journalists and editors who will unearth the most compelling products and the most important stories.
To get you ready for this year’s virtual show, here’s a look at what to expect at CES 2021.
1. There will be less noise and more signal
This year’s virtual CES will feature approximately 1,000 vendors. For context, last year’s show in Las Vegas had 4,500. Typically, one of CES ‘biggest challenges is the sheer amount of information you have to sort through to find the right stuff. CNET still accepts the mission of screening major CES products and trends for consumers. This year will be a little different with less than 25% of the companies involved. Vendors who showcase the 2021 All-Digital CES are more likely to have something new and interesting to talk about, rather than just showing up because they still do it and have already booked the hotel .
2. The pandemic bandwagon will become congested
Companies are going to come up with a lot of technology to help people deal with fears of COVID-19, locked life, work and home learning. In healthcare and smart home spaces, we’re going to see high-tech face masks, smart air purifiers, more hands-free devices, UV-C lights to kill germs, and much more. Certainly, computer makers will rely on more than a third of American employees working from home to showcase devices and accessories to make their working lives easier. And home entertainment providers will introduce TVs, soundbars, devices and streaming services to an audience that still doesn’t have access to nearly all of their living room entertainment.
Note that CNET will be discussing these issues in our panel,
3. Transparent OLEDs will create buzz
With more of us at home, televisions were in great demand. That’s why we’re always paying attention to the next attractions coming to TVs at CES. There’s always a giant TV or roll-up TV or some other awesome – albeit gimmicky – new screen tech that becomes the centerpiece of CES. This year, it will likely be LG’s transparent OLED displays. These go from 10% transparency to 40% transparency, which opens up new possibilities for many creative use cases. Some of the ones LG will showcase at CES 2021 will include a smart bed where the OLED screen pops out of the footboard, a smart subway window where maps and timetables are overlaid on the glass, and a restaurant partition between the cabins where you can see large images of menu items and even watch a chef prepare your meal.
4. The biggest gadget will take center stage
Automakers have been using CES as a platform to talk about what they call the “digitization and electrification” of the car for over a decade now. The problem is, this has mostly been talked about by the biggest automakers in the world, who make beautiful prototypes but have dragged their feet to make real progress. However, momentum is building around 2021, a landmark year for EVs. Automakers are converting some of the industry’s most iconic brands into electric vehicles, including the Mustang, Ford F-150, and Hummer., a number long mocked and questioned by the auto industry. On Tuesday, January 12, GM CEO Mary Barra will deliver the CES keynote address and Chevy has already pledged that new announcements for electric vehicles will arrive. Oh, and speaking of big gadgets, John Deere’s AI and robotics powered tractor is one of this year’s CES Innovation Award winners.
We will talk about all of this during our panel,.
5. Samsung will be bigger than ever
In a normal year, Samsung is still the 800-pound gorilla at CES, with the biggest booth in the living room, the flashiest press event, and a flood of new announcements on TVs, audio, computers, home appliances and original detectors recent years. Samsung will continue to make the usual waves this year, but it has added more fuel to the fire by holding a – ostensibly for his – the same day that the virtual CES show opens on Thursday, January 14. Talk about trying to steal the show! In the past, Samsung has stolen the thunder from its rivals by scheduling this event near Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (or a week or two before). But with the MWC postponed to mid-year, Samsung is essentially co-locating its biggest mobile event of the year at CES for 2021.
6. 5G will be a big deal again
From Roger Cheng: I know we feel like we say it every year, but a lot is in place to really allow 5G to dominate the conversation at CES, especially as this show becomes more virtual and s ‘relies more on panels and discussions than demos of gadgets. The three US operators now have 5G coverage nationwide. All phone makers – including Apple in particular – are on board. Beyond Samsung’s announcement, you probably won’t see as many 5G devices at the show. Much of the discussion will revolve around longer-term applications of 5G, such as how we are harnessing 5G to address some of the issues exposed by the coronavirus. The discussion will focus on using 5G to bridge the digital divide, as well as improving experiences around telemedicine and distance learning and working.