10 Big Tech Trends at CES 2011

Skype from your couch, 3D HDTV without the bothersome glasses, and more tablets than we know what to do with. Here are a few buzz-worthy trends straight from the CES floor.

The Shape of Things To Come

Because CES sets the tech mood for the whole year, the show is always a good indicator of what areas will get special attention. So far, it looks like 2011 will be all about tablets--and there are plenty of them--while TVs go 3D and get connected. Your car will get smarter as well, and fast mobile networks will better serve smartphones. Keep reading for our list of hot tech trends and products we’ve seen at CES this year.

Check out PCWorld's complete coverage of CES 2011.

Connected TVs

Whether it's from a box that sits next to your TV set, or it's built in to the set itself, the Internet will reach your television. LG is offering both: an Apple TV-like set top box and incorporated apps and movie streaming services. Sony's new smart TVs let you buy songs from ads in commercial breaks, while Samsung’s latest LED and Plasma sets feature built-in WiFi, a Web browser and media searching functions across broadcast listings.

Superfast Mobile Data

4G wireless data is emerging in 2011, and Verizon's offering comes in the shape of the HTC Thunderbolt and the Motorola Droid Bionic.AT&T's response is the Motorola Atrix 4G, with a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, all at just 0.4 inches thick. AT&T will also be home to the HTC Inspire 4G. Verizon says its 4G network will offer download speeds of up to 12mbps--ten times faster than 3G--and T-Mobile aims to double its 4G speeds.

More Video Chatting

Sony, Vizio, and Panasonic teamed up with Skype to debut Skype-enabled TVs, which will work with external accessories (purchased separately). This way, you can chat from your sofa with your TV while your friend uses his Android smartphone, because Skype also bought Qik for that purpose, and iPhone users can already use Skype video calling.

All About 3D – Sans the Funny Glasses

Manufacturers are aiming to bring more 3D products to your household this year. Samsung went for a funky asymmetric design, LG chose to go big with a 76-inch 3D display and also made portable 3D displays that do not require any special glasses to enjoy 3D content. Toshiba also introduced laptops with 3D displays that won't require glasses, and Sony's 3D camcorders can shoot in HD at the same time.

Smarter Car Tech

More tech is moving into a car near you, as GM begins to sell the $299 OnStar concierge service for almost any recent car, while Toyota's Entune in-car multimedia system pairs with your smartphone and can be controlled by voice, similar to Ford's SYNC infotainment system. Entune can also display live traffic, weather conditions, and the best fuel prices.

Windows 7 Tablets

Tablets running Windows 7 are now trying to out-do the iPad with a focus on productivity. While Asus went for a simple slate design (with a stylus), Samsung added a sliding keyboard underneath the screen and Acer replaced the screen and keyboard of a 14-inch notebook with two touchscreens in the Acer Iconia. Dell's Inspiron Duo dual-mode netbook and tablet also fits the tablet bill.

Android Tablets

Also chasing the iPad are tablets powered by Google Android by brands like Motorola, Toshiba, and many others. Motorola's Xoom tablet has a 10-inch display, a dual-core processor, dual cameras and can even work on 4G LTE (with external attachment). Toshiba's Android tablet also runs on a 10-inch screen, has dual cameras and HDMI out connectivity. Powering the devices will be Honeycomb, version 3.0 of the Android OS, specially designed for tablets.

Going Sandy Bridge

Intel’s latest microchip architecture, Sandy Bridge, is expected to be featured in more than 500 computers from all major OEMs throughout the year. The new chips should deliver more power for less battery drain (making it great for laptops), as well as help make all-in-one PCs thinner and more powerful.

Taking Windows Everywhere

Microsoft's CES keynote was all about the next generation of Windows, and how it will be able to run on other chipsets apart from Intel and AMD. Chips that power high-end smartphones, from the likes of ARM or Qualcomm (pictured), will be able to run Windows natively, but don't count on seeing any devices running the next version of Windows any time soon.

Cameras Go Wild

Digital photo cameras are still popular, and they beat smartphones with built-in cameras in most cases regarding picture quality. Panasonic introduced eight new Lumix cameras, while Casio's shape-shifting Tryx camera looks like a treat. Sony's new Bloggie 3D can record HD 3D videos and take photos, and Olympus is sticking with a classic look.

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