What to expect from the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show

The official launch of the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is still a few hours away, but tech-heads are already storming the conference to get a look at some of the latest consumer gadgets released in the flood of pre-show announcements.

And while most of the major keynotes are scheduled to occur over the next three days, some larger manufacturers such as LG and Samsung have already released a wave of announcements, with the former already announcing the release of the world’s thinnest smartphone.

In a press conference that occurred early this morning, LG announced the Optimus Black – a 9.2mm thick smartphone the company says is the world’s thinnest. It runs on the Android operating system, features a 2 megapixel camera and a range of power consumption features.

The company also announced its new “Smart TV” program, that allows users to access content through HDTVs and Blu-Ray players along with streaming capability. This is basically a software package that allows users to access services like Netflix and YouTube through a remote, similar to Google TV’s user interface.

Samsung has also launched a range of new 3D HDTV sets with sizes ranging from 46-65 inches, (along with what promises to include more comfortable viewing glasses), with some of these sets including Bluetooth support and even cameras so users can chat over in-built Skype support.

Sharp has also jumped in on the pre-CES announcement bandwagon, announcing a 70-inch LCD television range, along with some new 3D Blu-Ray players and a range of soundbars.

The CES has been a mixed bag over the past few decades. While the conference has played host to some of the biggest tech advancements in history, such as the VCR, the CD and the DVD, it has also been the launching pad for failed technologies such as the HDTV and Mini Disc.

But this year there are plenty of announcements still to come. With Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer set to deliver his keynote later today, along with major announcements and pricing details still expected from manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Pioneer and Research In Motion, the 2011 CES look set to be one of the busiest ever.

Here are the top five trends set to dominate this year’s Consumer Electronics Show:

Tablets

Apple kicked off the tablet wars last year with the iPad and now the rest of the manufacturers are catching up. Samsung will kick off the battle with its Galaxy tab, but manufacturers such as LG and even Microsoft are expected to announce a range of tablet devices.

Some analysts are even expecting over 100 new slates to be delivered this year, all but confirming the tablet is here to stay.

3D Television

Consumer 3D televisions were announced during the 2010 CES, and even though take-up has been relatively slow the major players aren’t giving up yet. Already Samsung and LG have announced a range of both 3D televisions and 3D Blu-Ray players, and Toshiba has even delivered a prototype of a glasses-less 3D television set.

There may not be a lot of 3D content available to consumers so far, but tech companies aren’t giving up just yet.

Storage Devices

One of the best aspects of the CES is that not everything is about the larger, more expensive gadgets. There are often trends around smaller consumer devices and this year storage is set to be one of the most popular developments.

The launch of USB 3.0, a better, faster version of the current USB technology, will make itself known this year. Kingston is already set to reveal a range of USB 3.0 thumb drives and no doubt portable hard drive makers will be gearing up for their own announcements as well.

4G Smartphones

The take-up of mobile broadband data has exploded over the past 12 months, but telcos are already looking ahead.

Overnight Motorola announced the ATRIX 4G phone, designed to run faster than any 3G phone available on the market. It has a 1.2Ghz processor and 1GB of RAM – which is an unusually large amount for a phone. HTC has also unveiled its Inspire 4G phone, and Samsung has released the Infuse 4G as well – expect more over the next few days.

Set-Top Boxes

The set-top box is becoming more popular as new iterations of the device allow consumers to jump online and stream media from other gadgets in their home. Expect more this year, as Microsoft is tipped to announce one of its own later today.

Along with LG’s new Smart TV set-top box, some Google TV boxes are also expected from Logitech.

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