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This story is part of The Year Ahead, CNET’s look at how the world will continue to evolve starting in 2022 and beyond.

CES 2022 has at all times been a window into what the world of know-how will appear to be down the road. However this yr, it additionally served as a microcosm of our chaotic, messy and unpredictable lives right now. 

The commerce present was adamant about holding a hybrid present with a robust bodily presence in 2022. And with issues calming down after the delta variant of COVID-19 surged over the summer time, that appeared to be a sensible purpose. Keynote audio system and large title corporations signed on and it was poised to be one of many first huge conferences to return to in-person. 

Then omicron reared its extremely contagious head. 

With just some weeks earlier than the convention kicked off, a raft of corporations pulled out or scrapped their plans to journey to Las Vegas. T-Cell CEO Mike Sievert canceled his keynote fully. Google, Microsoft, AMD and Intel both canceled or modified their plans. A lot of the main media shops opted to cowl the occasion nearly. The present seemed to be on the snapping point. 

So was CES a bust? Surprisingly, no. Quite a lot of huge bulletins, from Samsung’s first OLED tv to Sony teasing its PlayStation VR 2 system infused the present with relevance. The automotive trade has steadily elevated its presence on the occasion and did not disappoint this yr. After which there have been the lifelike robots.

“It was so surreal — want I might have seen it in individual,” mentioned CNET Video Producer Claire Reilly after interviewing Ameca, a robotic with human-like facial expressions.  

The Shopper Know-how Affiliation, which places on the present, mentioned the variety of contributors in the end rose as small and medium-sized companies nonetheless noticed the worth of assembly head to head. 

“It is positively not the identical,” mentioned Avi Greengart, an analyst for analysis agency Techsponential who on the final minute opted to attend in individual. “There’s much less worth, but it surely’s simpler to extract that worth.” 

Here is what we discovered from this yr’s CES. 

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The Ameca humanoid robotic displayed startlingly lifelike expressions.


Engineered Arts/Justin Reynoso/CNET

1. CES could not overcome COVID-19, however that did not matter

Given the up-and-down sample of COVID-19 during the last two years, it should not be a shock that one other badly timed surge disrupted the whole lot. Due to this unpredictability, the CTA from the onset went with a hybrid mannequin that supplied the choice to attend in individual or nearly through a digital platform

That mannequin is probably going right here to remain, and will ripple by way of to different conferences as we reassess the worth of attending one in all these gatherings. Cell World Congress, a cell commerce present in Barcelona, is scheduled to kick off in late February, though the RSA Convention, a safety present, was pushed again to June from February.

A slew of attention-grabbing merchandise, from new laptops from Dell and HP to these Samsung televisions, served as a reminder that there is not any substitute for seeing and experiencing issues in individual. Whereas corporations like Lenovo traveled to New York to arrange native briefings for early hands-on experiences, there’s nothing that may exchange a central hub like CES. 

And those that made the hassle had been rewarded with a CES freed from a few of its extra infamous annoyances. 

“It is rather a lot simpler and extra nice in some methods,” Greengart mentioned. “I can truly seize a cab.” 

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The Samsung Freestyle is a $900 projector that may create a 100-inch image.


Samsung

2. Laptops and TVs are flashy once more, and you will like the brand new ones

TVs and laptops have a circadian rhythm to their product launch cycles which have lengthy been aligned with CES. You may set your clocks by the truth that almost all the huge distributors unveil their major merchandise within the first week of January. 

Whereas lots of the TV and laptop corporations deliberate to skip this yr’s CES or pulled out on the final minute due to the unfold of omicron, they nonetheless did their annual blitz of product bulletins to kick off the yr. 

CNET’s lead TV reviewer David Katzmaier rounded up the big developments in TVs and CNET’s lead laptop computer reviewer Dan Ackerman wrote up the cool stuff happening in laptops.

However, it is price calling out just a few highlights in every class. Samsung finally revealed an OLED TV to compete with LG‘s best-in-class image high quality. TCL unveiled its largest TV ever with a 98-inch Roku-powered behemoth. To not be outdone, LG announced its largest OLED ever with a powerful 97-incher. And Samsung’s Freestyle TV projector with a 100-inch image, 360-degree sound and a $900 price ticket was a enjoyable shock.

In computer systems, the Dell XPS 13 Plus was the most important attention-getter, making daring design selections for probably the most regular, dependable laptop computer strains in the marketplace. The brand new model sports activities an edge-to-edge keyboard, a brand new tackle a customizable touchbar and a touchpad that runs your entire size of the underside of the laptop computer. HP’s ultralight Elite Dragonfly laptop got here with a svelte new design. The Asus Zenbook 17 Fold supplied up a 17.3-inch foldable OLED laptop computer. Lenovo broke the mould with its ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 dual-display laptop, which comes with an ultrawide 17.3-inch major display screen with a 21:10 side ratio at 120Hz. It additionally has a flexible 8-inch second display screen to the precise of the keyboard that can be utilized with a stylus for taking notes and put to many different inventive makes use of.

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The Dell XPS 13 Plus made daring design selections, included its personal model of a touchbar.


Dan Ackerman/CNET

3. Telephones and 5G supplied a meaty unofficial CES

Telephones and wi-fi providers do not historically play a giant function at CES, as an alternative ready a month or so till the MWC commerce present. However they monopolized a few of the headlines as a secondary story working concurrent with the official CES bulletins. 

The most important was the spat between the wi-fi carriers and the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg over a request for Verizon and AT&T to delay the rollout of their upgraded 5G networks due to issues over interference with airplane gear. The request was made on New 12 months’s Eve, prompting the carriers to shortly reject it, organising a possible authorized conflict. 

However the two sides got here to an settlement late Monday, resulting in Verizon making a splashy announcement concerning the coming 5G upgrades (which can go dwell after that two-week delay). AT&T had pulled out of CES and stored comparatively mum throughout this stretch. 

On the cellphone aspect, OnePlus made a splash by teasing its OnePlus 10 Pro out of China (proper in the midst of CES’s media day). Whereas technically a part of CES, Samsung opted to front-run everybody by unveiling its Galaxy S21 Fan Edition on Monday night time. 

On the official aspect, the TCL 30 V 5G and TCL XE 5G made their debut at CES 2022, and will likely be out as quickly as February. HMD World, the End startup making Nokia-branded handsets, showed off five new phones hitting the US within the coming months. They vary from the 5G Nokia G400 ($239) to the retro Nokia 2760 flip cellphone ($79). 

The takeaway: Do not sleep on cell information initially of the yr. 

4. Good glasses might have an iPad second in 2022

When the iPad was introduced in April 2010, it was one of many worst-kept secrets and techniques in tech. Earlier than it even launched, plenty of different tech corporations had introduced their very own tablets — and afterwards, the stampede solely bought extra crowded. 

AR glasses may very well be approaching an iPad-like second in 2022 with supply chain leaks linking Apple to the launch of AR glasses or an AR/VR headset later this yr. The competitors would not intend to get caught flat footed. CES 2022 noticed a tidal wave of AR, VR and metaverse bulletins. 

TCL unveiled each its vision for future AR smart glasses and its NXTWear Air glasses that work as an exterior show that’s the equal of watching a 140-inch TV. Sony confirmed off PlayStation VR 2. Mojo Imaginative and prescient got here with its newest prototype for smart contact lenses. Qualcomm and Microsoft instructed the world that they may partner on chips for future AR glasses. Panasonic demonstrated a pair of $900 SteamVR goggles with a steampunk look. And “metaverse” grew to become the most popular and most ridiculous buzzword at CES 2022, as this wonderful Twitter thread from @NimaZeighami demonstrates

Anticipate much more hype round AR glasses this yr, regardless that the merchandise launched are prone to be little greater than clunky prototypes. Not less than they’re going to give us all tales to entertain the grandkids in a pair a long time.

TCL NXTWear Air glasses are a wearable display that plugs into devices via a USB-C cable (seen coming from the right temple).

TCL NXTWear Air glasses are a wearable show that plugs into units through a USB-C cable (seen coming from the precise aspect).


TCL

5. The EV tsunami is about to come back ashore

Whereas there was no scarcity of far-future fantasy within the automotive class at this yr’s CES (lookin’ at you, Hyundai), probably the most thrilling stuff was extra tangible — issues like the brand new Chevy Silverado EV. GM CEO Mary Barra debuted the corporate’s all-electric pick-up, displaying off various totally different flavors and a few spectacular numbers. Most spectacular? 400 miles of vary on a cost. Additionally spectacular? The $105,000 manufacturer-suggested retail value the Launch Version will carry. Yeah, yikes. Cheaper variations will come although. After which there’s the electric Equinox, which can begin at simply $30,000.

Whereas EVs had been in every single place, autonomy continued to be a significant push. Right here once more GM was making waves, speaking up its newest integrations with Cruise for an autonomous ride-hailing service. Much more attention-grabbing was the discuss round Extremely Cruise, the subsequent step past Tremendous Cruise. This can provide true hands-off driving even on native roads. The Cadillac Celestiq would be the first to supply this when it arrives in 2023. That is simply subsequent yr, individuals. Prepare.

“CES turned out to be the perfect auto present in years,” mentioned Chris Paukert, Government Editor of CNET Roadshow. 

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The Chevy Silverado EV made its debut at CES 2022.


Chevrolet

That is a wrap

Whereas CES 2022 grew to become yet one more unconventional present, it nonetheless has loads of helpful, attention-grabbing and futuristic stuff to nerd out about. There have been robots that would have made the Terminator jealous. BMW confirmed off a car that can change colors, just like the way in which you modify desktop wallpaper in your laptop. Razer’s high-tech face mask from final yr even took one other run at being a wearable air air purifier.

The principle halls in Las Vegas have been eerily empty, and in-person attendees bought to select stickers for announcing how much physical contact they’re comfortable with. However the present did go on — with loads of stuff that the world will likely be speaking about all through 2022.



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