I’ve been going to CES for more years than I care to remember. Many things have changed over the years. There is now tremendously more floor space than ever before, four times the number of attendees, an enormous increase in the number of exhibitors, and products that wouldn’t have even been science fiction dreams back when I started (more than 47 shows ago). One thing has not changed, however. It’s the question I get when I return: “So what did you see that was new or important?”
In most cases, my answer has been product-centric, but to view CES in that way may miss the point. Yes, individual products are important, as that is what we buy or sell, but it is equally important to view the products together as concepts and use that to take the temperature of the industry and the public. For that reason, this CES report will deal more with the top-level takeaways with some product examples rather than deep dives into this model or that. Don’t worry, you’ll see much of that here at Residential Tech Today as the individual products reach the market. But, sometimes it’s best to take the high-altitude view so that you might place things in proper context.
For now, here are some thoughts on CES as a whole.
Biggest CES Surprise: The attention given to transparent displays
The technology behind transparent displays is not new, have been used in commercial and retail applications for a while. The surprise is that LG Electronics used CES to announce a 77” transparent OLED as a consumer product. Be cautious, however: No firm release date or pricing was announced.
A parallel surprise that was even bigger was Samsung’s reveal of a transparent display using microLEDs. Yes, the prototypes looked good but don’t put them on your shopping list yet. These are still very much in the “technology demo” phase and availability and pricing are still quite a bit off in the distance.
Worst Kept Secret and Biggest Hype at CES: AI
Everyone knew that this was going to be the “CES of AI,” and no one was disappointed. Nary a product in almost any category missed the opportunity to feature AI as a key part of their product lines. This ranged from Samsung’s plastering “AI for All” in huge signage on the Las Vegas Convention Center to LG’s recast of “AI” with their theme of “Affectionate Intelligence” to having “AI” appear in the product description of products large and small, down to virtually every startup in the Eureka Park area.
AI is definitely a “thing” throughout society and its impact on our work and lives will undeniably be significant. The question here, however, that what was seen at CES attempted to show, if not answer, was how it will impact consumer electronics as a whole and residential technology in particular.
Broadest Developing Trend at CES Part 1: Connected TV (“CTV”)
This trend encompasses more than streaming. It is the total picture of what is streamed to and displayed on the TV along with using it as the central window into whole-home management with the TV’s UI key to control things and report what they are doing.
There was a proof point for CTV over at the C-Space area at the Aria Hotel, where the concept was used as a way to deliver ads and stimulate and facilitate product purchases. Brands, streaming services, and others held court in private suites where deals were done that will determine what you see “on TV” this year and how it was paid for regardless of the actual set technology.
Biggest Trend at CES Part 2: BIG TVs
For this one, let’s take the “BIG” literally. While the average screen size in U.S. households is still in the 55” range, you’d never know that after visiting CES 2024. Along with improved video features, significantly updated interfaces and, of course, more streaming options, BIG was definitely better at CES. Look forward to a 110” set from Hisense and a 115” set from TCL joining new 97” and 98” sets from Samsung and LG.
The Thing That Didn’t Get as Much Hype as Expected: VR/AR
Don’t get me wrong, there was VR and AR at CES, and it did attract crowds to some of the booths where it was shown, but it didn’t get the hype that it had in the past. One reason may be that Apple, which hasn’t been to CES in more than two decades, somewhat punked the VR/AR excitement by announcing the price and availability for Apple Vision Pro ($3,499, available for pre-order now and shipping on February 2). Along with that, perhaps the air may have gone out of the balloon for VR/AR. Time will tell for the saga of AR/VR consumer acceptance.
Biggest Crowd or Waiting Line: The Cars
This one might also be placed under the “Largest Crowd”, “Worst Kept Secret,” and “Biggest Hype” categories. Having shown prototypes in their booth for the last two years, Sony’s Afeela, a joint venture with Honda Mobility, made an appearance again and it jammed the Sony booth. It is getting closer to availability with preorders starting in 2025 and deliveries set for the spring of 2026 (pricing likely to start in the $45,000 range.)
Also attracting large crowds were the two prototypes in Honda’s new “0 Series.” Both the “Saloon” and “Space Hub” were clearly concept vehicles and unlike the Afeela, and it’s doubtful that these models will reach the market as shown at CES. Don’t for variations on 0 Series cars at your local Honda dealer until mid-to late-2026.
What is Finally Getting Hot: Wi-Fi 7
With the Wi-Fi Alliance finally certifying Wi-Fi 7 products, expect this to become an important item in 2024 and going forward. There were Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 7 access points and laptops from a number of manufacturers at CES 2024 along with the new Samsung S24 Ultra announced in a separate event after CES. This may be the year when Wi-Fi 7’s higher data rate makes it a must-have.
Most Interesting Product: Pawport
There is always a product concept or two that you didn’t expect to see at CES. Pawport is an extension to your pet door that makes it secure and weather-proof. A simple “dog door” flap allows your pet to walk through, but that means that pests, rodents, or the neighbor’s dog can also walk into the house.
Pawport solves that with a motorized door that fits over the existing frame and only opens via an app or with a waterproof Bluetooth collar tag. The app even lets you set timing that keeps the door closed within a schedule that you set. It’s so obvious, that I also award Pawport this year’s, “Why didn’t I think of that?” prize.
There you have my “CES in brief” report. It was refreshing to see the crowds and exhibitors back at full strength along with many new products. Parsing those products into concept and trend buckets, as you’ve seen here, is often as important as the products themselves. Use this as a guide as you do your own review of what you hear from CES. Fear not, we’ll get to some product specifics soon, as well.