Apple's iPhone4

Consumer Tech Products To Expect In 2011

The first week of January can only mean one thing: what’s coming out in consumer tech in the next year. Last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (the mecca for new gadgets) there seemed to be two prevailing themes: 3D TVs and smart phones. We all saw how well 3D TV went over. (Really, you didn’t want to sit in your own living room wearing uncomfortable, goofy glasses?) While we expect that smart phones will still be a major draw, my prediction is there will be a couple more prevailing technologies this year that everyone will be buzzing about: tablets and power.

I’m heading out to CES in Las Vegas this week, and plan to report back here on what I see at the show that’s cool (and what’s not). But here’s my preliminary take on what’s going to be hot in tech over the next 12 months.

Phones

Undoubtedly the most anticipated release will be the iPhone on the Verizon Wireless network. Finally, we will all be free to enjoy America’s favorite handheld device AND enjoy the luxury of not dropping every other call. The rumor on the Vegas Strip is that Verizon will make the announcement during the CEO’s keynote at the show.

While everyone is ooohing and aaahing over the marriage of iPhone and reliable 3G and 4G service, Google will be making strong headway with the Android platform, and a buffet of new Android phones will hit the market from HTC, Motorola, Samsung and other major handset developers. As a user and lover of an Android phone, I am extremely excited to see what comes on the market in this space. Right now, Sprint’s Evo is shaping up to be a hell of an iPhone competitor.

Tablets

 

While it took four iterations of the iPhone for a serious competitor to emerge in the Android corner, iPad might see some challengers from this growing platform in the next couple of months. Expect to see several tablets debut this week that will surely eat into Apple’s next iPad release (expected in March). The best thing about the emergence of the tablet wave is that consumers will now be presented with a very nice selection of sleek, affordable tablets that can be used for personal and work life. Expect Samsung, HP, and Microsoft to lead the way.

Power

This is obviously a timely topic from a commercialization standpoint, but it’s also finding its way in the CE conversation. Over the last five years, we’ve seen more and more companies crop up that address our changing needs for how we power all of our devices. From universal chargers (one power device for all of your gadgets), to wireless charging, to solar-powered chargers, to vehicles being embedded with charging technology, power has a vital place in the conversation of gadgetry. I think this year at CES we’re going to see some technology that will change the way consumers charge up. The big issue on the table? Saving energy. Expect to see Duracell, Radio Shack and even phone carriers such as T-Mobile to have cutting-edge power solutions that hit retail shelves this year. And there are plenty of smaller companies holding their own in this space too — Powermat, Call Pod, and iGo, to name a few.

We’ll see if my predictions are on target.CES is known for not only debuting big ideas in consumer tech, but also small ones that are equally cool and noteworthy. I’ll see as much as I can in three short days. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for short cab lines. Until then, Happy New Year!