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It was a record year across the board for the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES). More than 150,000 people converged in Las Vegas to check out gadgets, computers and electronics from more than 3,100 exhibitors from around the globe. Plenty of new computer technology and games were spread across the 1.85 million net square feet of show floor in the Las Vegas Convention Center and neighboring hotels. And for good reason, consumer electronics are forecast to top $1 trillion in 2012 for the first time, including more than $202 billion in the U.S. alone.
Ultrabooks were everywhere during the show, opening up new gaming capabilities for those on the go. Dell debuted its XPS 13 ultrabook, an 11-inch ultrabook that’s only 6 millimeters at its thinnest and features a carbon fiber base, which means it weighs less than three pounds. Future ultrabook laptops will implement tablet features and have touch screens, voice recognition and longer battery life.
Innovation is always a key driver at CES, but this year there were plenty of leftover trends from the past few shows. 3D isn’t going away. In fact, there were more large-screen autostereoscopic (glasses-free) 3D devices than ever before from big companies like Sony, LG, Samsung and Panasonic.
Although it will still be years before price points on these devices come down for the mainstream, new laptops from Toshiba (Qosmio F755 3D) and new smartphones bring the third dimension to smaller screens at an affordable price. Stereoscopic 3D has seen price drops and larger, thinner screens. There is also continued support for 3D content, something that has been sorely lacking thus far, in the form of new Blu-ray 3D movies from Hollywood studios and new games for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
The push toward 3D games also continues, with Intel demonstrating the power of its new 22 nanometer, a three-dimensional transistor technology named Ivy Bridge. As the line continues to blur between computers and smartphones and tablets, Intel processors have migrated to smartphones and tablets from companies like Lenovo (K800 smartphone) and Motorola Mobility. Intel’s 3D support, which joins NVIDIA’s multiyear push in 3D gaming, means that most computers these days will offer some type of stereo 3D options.
Another trend that continues to revolutionize the way people game -- and live -- is the cloud. More cloud services were introduced by big companies like Sony and Lenovo and by innovators like Gaikai and OnLive. Sony’s new PS Vita portable entertainment device, which had a strong showing, allows gamers to start playing MLB 12: The Show on the PS3 and then continue that experience on the road, or vice versa.
TVs continue to get smarter. Just about every TV on display at CES came with Internet connectivity and the ability to use apps, play games and watch YouTube and other videos on the big screen. Lenovo even showed off a new TV (K91) with a built-in Android 4.0 tablet. With cloud options and wireless connectivity for more smartphones and tablets, the need for a game console in the near future could go the way of the HD DVD player.
Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer didn’t announce the NextBox gaming device at CES, but he did show off Kinect games playing on PCs. Now PC gamers will be able to utilize motion controls and voice to interact with their games and entertainment. Microsoft also demonstrated Windows 8, which promises to offer game developers an open Windows Store with multiple business models to deliver games straight to the millions of PCs that will be running the software later this year.
PC gamers have plenty to look forward to in 2012 and beyond, including new ways to game across multiple platforms and devices. It’s not hard to look at the key trends over the past few CES shows and see that PC gaming is not only here to stay, but evolving at a far more rapid rate than any console can ever compete with. Convertible tablets, which flip to become netbooks, were everywhere and are more powerful than ever. Moving forward, the PC could be the only way to game, and the very definition of what format that PC will come in (tablets, ultrabooks, smartphones, smart TVs) will evolve as well.
All photos: Getty Images
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