Besides encountering all kinds of dual-band, 802.11n, and high-power routers for home use, we expect to see new, more-powerful hybrid routers that use your home's power line to extend your connection into rooms where other desktops or Internet-capable TVs might not otherwise enjoy wired Internet. The routers will also be able to use that connection to expand wireless Internet coverage to hard-to-reach rooms.
Another item generating some buzz is the upcoming debut of consumer routers that operate on a new wireless standard that represents the next step up from 802.11n. The new version will operate on the high-frequency 60GHz band of spectrum, and proponents say that it'll be blazing fast for wireless connections--delivering almost 7 gigabits per second. The downside of the new standard is that, since it operates at such high frequency (most routers today use the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands), it functions at only a very short range before the wireless signal begins to disintegrate.
I expect to see a demo from Wilocity (one of the forerunning distributors of chipsets designed to work on a 60GHz band) on the speed and range of the new standard. This may provide a taste of what a future of fast, short-range wireless on top of slower, long-range wireless will be like. --Megan Geuss
Apps are sure to make a big splash at this year's show. As dual- and quad-core processors become increasingly common, I expect to see a lot more gaming apps that feature console-quality graphics on phones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
The number of augmented-reality apps should pick up steam at CES, promising new "Kinect-like" features such as gesture recognition.
On the business side, apps that provide IT support are likely to be a big hit among companies that let their employees use their own smartphones for work.
Phones and tablets won't be the only things running apps this year: Ford will demonstrate more apps for its new line of "connected cars," which the auto maker says will contribute to a much more enjoyable driving experience. For people who want to view and work with apps on something bigger than a 10-inch display, TV manufacturers such as Samsung will make another big push to promote app-centric "smart TVs." --Armando Rodriguez
For more blogs, stories, photos, and video from the nation's largest consumer electronics show, check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2012.