CES 2020 preview: what to expect from the world’s biggest tech show

In the first week of January 2020, in Las Vegas, CES will be back for its 50th year to see in what is shaping up to be an exciting year for technology – what with the Tokyo Olympics set to be broadcast in 8K, the PlayStation5 – Sony’s first PS console for four years – due to arrive, not to mention the likely launch of the first 5G iPhones.

The official CES 2020 exhibit dates are Tuesday 7th to Friday 10th January, between which thousands of brands will be showing the latest in consumer electronics – from automotive to robotics to healthcare innovation to high-end home cinema and hi-fi – within the walls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre and several other venues across Sin City.

While concrete information on new product announcements is still thin on the ground, with electronics brands being typically tight-lipped before their official on-site reveals and press conferences (and what we do know we aren’t able to tell you yet anyway!), we at least are able to estimate, with a fair amount of confidence, what we can all expect.

8K ascendancy?

From an AV perspective, the focus for CES remains on televisions; the launch pad for that year’s forthcoming TVs and TV technologies. With the 8K TV revolution seeming determined to evolve past infancy, and the OLED vs QLED rivalry as intense as it’s ever been, we can expect plenty of cut-throat competitiveness on the showfloor.

CES 2020 will also be a progress playground for the TV industry’s next-gen, boundary-pushing concepts, such as modular MicroLED (as pushed by Samsung and Sony), Mini-LED (as brought to bear by TCL) and crazy conceptual OLED designs (as LG has been particularly keen to pursue).

Samsung has been less than forthcoming with its TV line-up at CES in recent years, instead using the show to announce and educate attendees on the technologies that are part and parcel of it instead. It’s likely that could be the case this year, but based on Samsung’s recent pursuits we’ll eat our copy of this magazine if the message isn’t firmly on its OLED-rivalling QLED TVs.

(Image credit: CES)

The Korean brand has been leading the 8K TV charge in the past 12 months, despite being a little pricey. The question on everyone’s lips: could 2020 be the year 8K TV becomes ‘affordable’? With the likes of LG, Sony, TCL, Hisense and Sharp also dipping their toes into the 8K pond and upping the competitive stakes, it’s certainly possible.

Panasonic has been notably absent from the 8K landscape, choosing instead to focus on its 4K OLED fare (and we can’t really blame it) – but will that still be the case next year? The company’s CES 2019 spotlight shone brightest over the turntable launches by its Technics brand, so we envisage a return to a focus on Panasonic TVs this time – if not on an 8K model, then on forthcoming 2020 4K flagships.

And after last year’s headline-grabbing (and highly Instagrammable) LG rollable OLED TV, should we prepare ourselves for more lifestyle artistry from the South Korean stalwart? Perhaps not, but, not least as the company produced our favourite TV of 2019, we’ll be preoccupied by the inevitable presence of its 2020 4K OLED TV line-up anyway.

Sony may, notoriously, be all about quantity at such shows, but if its previous CES launches, such as 2019’s PS-LX310BT turntable and XG95 4K TV, are anything to go by, it won’t be lacking in quality. If we were to bet our hard-earned cash on what would comprise Sony’s CES stand, our money would go on some next-gen TV technology and audio hardware compatible with the 360 Reality Audio object-based sound format it announced at CES 2019.

(Image credit: CES)

3D (audio) isn’t dead

3D TVs may have died a slow and painful death, but 3D audio is reluctant to be put to bed, having somewhat been jump-started this year – not only by Sony’s format (which can be optimally experienced through select Sony headphones and Amazon’s Echo Studio speaker) but also Dolby Atmos Music (supported by the growing number of Atmos-compatible products). The promise of both next-gen audio formats: a more immersive, surround sound listening experience with music.

CES 2020 could be the stage on which more studios and electronics brands publicly pledge their support for the formats. Perhaps we’ll even have a third format to contend with?

A new platter of turntables?

While CES isn’t quite the Holy Grail for hi-fi as it is for home cinema, there will no doubt be plenty of year-defining announcements. Last year’s biggest was undoubtedly the re-launch of the famous Technics SL-1200 DJ deck, which spearheaded what was a fantastic show for turntables, with Cambridge Audio, Sony and Audio Technica all vying for attention with new record spinners. More of the same for 2020? We wouldn’t bet against it.

True wireless headphones will no doubt be in our perpetual eyeline, too, as everyone muscles in on the truly wireless world. And we can predict that ‘Alexa’ and other voice assistants will be at the heart of the ever-present smart home innovations.

What we can guarantee, however, is our commitment to bringing you the latest news and first impressions straight from the CES showfloor. All will be revealed on whathifi.com from Monday 6th January, so let that be one of the first dates you ring in the 2020 calendar.