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CES 2012: 5 Trends To Watch

From mobile handsets and ultrabooks up to huge OLED TVs, here are a few expected highlights of the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

The Consumer Electronics Show kicks off in Las Vegas next Tuesday, and gadget makers are getting ready to show off their latest tech products for the coming year.

Every year, a few big product trends emerge. In 2011, it was all about Android tablets; in 2010, 3D televisions and e-readers dominated the show; and in 2009, netbooks were a big topic. So what does 2012 promise? Here's a look at five CES trends that people are already talking about.

OLED

Organic Light Emitting Diode displays promise more vivid colors, faster response times, and smaller device footprints compared to LCD/LED TVs, but the technology has yet to break into the television market. That may be about to change at CES 2012, as LG announced Monday it plans to show what it calls the world's largest OLED HDTV.

LG's new TV has a 55-inch display, 0.16-inch depth, weighs 16.5 pounds, and promises a response time that is less than 0.0001 milliseconds (the average LCD has a response time between 5 and 2 milliseconds). OLEDs were also a hot topic for CES 2009.

Ultrabooks

Intel introduced the concept of Ultrabooks -- laptops with slim designs, solid state drives, and longer battery life -- in May. Since then we've seen a number of Ultrabooks come out, including the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, Acer Aspire S3, and Toshiba Portege Z835.

But the real onslaught of these MacBook Air competitors is expected at CES, with as many as 30 to 50 Ultrabooks making their debut in Las Vegas. Intel's President and CEO Paul Otellini is delivering a keynote address at CES next Tuesday when he may discuss the forthcoming Ivy Bridge Core processors, the miniaturized successor to 2011's Sandy Bridge chips that are at the heart of current Ultrabooks.

Quad-Core Phones

Get ready for blazing fast smartphones loaded with quad-core processors, such as Nvidia's Tegra 3 and Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4.

The first round of quad-core smartphones are expected within the first three months of 2012, and many tech watchers expect to see these devices at CES.

4K

No we're not talking about kilobytes, but a type of display resolution that has four times the pixel density of 1080p HDTVs, the current gold standard for mass market high-definition displays.

LG plans to show off an 84-inch 4K 3D HDTV with Internet connectivity during CES. Toshiba is also working on a 4K 3D display, so perhaps we may see more than one 4K set next Tuesday in Las Vegas.

Ice Cream Sandwich

Tablets have been a big topic at CES since 2010, when device makers scrambled to get out in front of the looming release of Apple's iPad. CES 2012 is expected to have more of the same, thanks to the release of Google's latest Android flavor, Ice Cream Sandwich.

Unlike 2011, where the Motorola Xoom was the only device running Google's tablet-specific version of Android (Honeycomb), ICS is already available to any manufacturer who wants it.

Electronics maker Coby plans to debut four ICS tablets at CES, and it's a good bet other tablet makers will follow suit.

That's an early look at what's coming to CES 2012, but check back with PCWorld all this week as more details emerge about the year's biggest consumer electronics show. You can also bookmark our dedicated CES 2012 section here.

Connect with Ian Paul (@ianpaul) on Twitter and Google+, and with Today@PCWorld on Twitter for the latest tech news and analysis.

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