published Thursday, January 17th, 2013

In Tune: CES 2013 hints at beautiful, connected future

If you're not one to obsess over new technologies, you may not realize companies gave a sneak peek of the future during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.

Like many techies, I look forward to events such as CES as much as some people look forward to summer vacations and birthdays. It might be years before I can afford the devices paraded by the press like chum in front of a shark tank, but just looking is usually enough to set my salivary glands into overdrive.

Here's the skinny on some of the trends that emerged this year.

■ Ultra high-def. After sprouting up like mushrooms the last couple of years, new 3-D TVs have faded into the background in favor of ultra-high-resolution sets. Practically every major manufacturer showed off TVs with three times the image quality of 1080p ("regular" high-definition) models. Granted, there isn't a ton of UltraHD content available, and the announced models start at $20,000, but the screens were eye-catching enough to warrant drafting an argument for buying one with your significant other.

■ Goodbye buttons. Based on Intel's announcement that all future Ultrabook laptops must include touchscreens and the presence of countless voice-command-enabled and gesture-controllable devices, CES made it pretty clear the humble physical button is headed the way of the dodo.

■ Smart everything. Remember how pretty much every household appliance in "The Jetsons" operated automatically? CES didn't feature a real-life Rosie, but there were plenty of devices that screamed "THE FUTURE IS NOW," including an oven that adjusts burner levels based on where a pot is placed, a washer that can download new cycle presets and a "smart refrigerator" that sends expiration notices and shopping list suggestions to your smartphone.

Those are just three trends that rose to the surface, but tons of other amazing gadgets were tucked away in CES' massive showroom, including bendable displays, 3-D printers for the home and gutter-cleaning, autonomous robots.

Even if you don't follow technologic trends as avidly as techies like me, the truth is, these are the devices that will someday -- probably sooner than you think -- be in your home. And the sooner you know what to expect, the sooner you can decide whether you need to move your furniture around.

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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