We expect Blu-ray Disc to continue its successful march forward, this time with the announcement of players capable of supporting the newly finalized 3D Blu-ray specification. The good news about 3D Blu-ray is that the new discs will be backward-compatible with 2D players. The bad news is that to get 3D playback, you'll need a new player and a new HDTV that support 3D (the Sony PlayStation 3 will support 3D Blu-ray through a firmware upgrade).
Though 3D players are clearly on the roadmap, plans for Blu-ray Disc recorders remain uncertain. Blu-ray recorders with TV tuners have been available in Asia for some time now, but vendor roadmaps in the United States continue to omit them (purportedly because of the numerous copyright restrictions broadcasters and studios would impose on such devices). JVC announced a professional recorder last fall, but that $2000 model lacked a TV tuner--which means that you wouldn't be able to record the Vancouver Winter Olympics in high-def.
More Blu-ray players should gain connectivity in the next year, too. We expect BD-Live to be de rigueur on all but the most inexpensive models, and that more value players will support Web-based streaming services like YouTube and Netflix on Demand.
Cameras and Camcorders
Pocket camcorders: Now that the public has accepted the Flip design, we should see a jump in specs and features in the next year: higher-quality optics, wireless sharing and uploads, more in-camera settings, optical zoom lenses, and 1080p video captured at higher-bit-rate AVCHD formats.
At CES we expect to see point-and-shoot cameras adopting some of the marquee features of pocket camcorders, too: hybrid portrait/landscape capabilities that enable the shooter to reposition the camera for shooting stills or video, and built-in USB connectors that simplify file uploads and sharing.
Interchangeable-lens cameras: At CES we'll see smaller, more feature-packed interchangeable-lens cameras that offer large sensors, great still and video quality, and the flexibility to use different lenses in a relatively compact camera. These devices will begin to reach the U.S. market in the first half of 2010.
On the digital SLR side of the spectrum, you can expect to see high-definition video capture become nearly ubiquitous. Last year HD video recording crept into the feature set of DSLRs from Nikon, Canon, and Pentax; and DSLR still cameras became a viable option for professional videographers and independent filmmakers. Expect this trend to continue in 2010, possibly paving the way for redesigned DSLR bodies that make shooting video easier.
TransferJet and Wi-Fi Direct: Most current cameras require a separate USB cable for sharing and offloading photos and video. We've also seen a number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices in the past year, but wireless file transfers may get a serious boost this year from devices that work with TransferJet and Wi-Fi Direct. Both technologies support wireless, peer-to-peer sharing between compliant devices, though the logistics differ a bit. What does it mean for consumers? USB cables may be gone for good very soon.
Mobile phone news tends to be a bit quieter than other electronics categories during CES, as vendors look forward to the Mobile World Congress coming up in February and CTIA following in March. Even so, some big news is in store for CES. Rumor has it that the Google Nexus One may be available as early as January 5, so maybe we'll finally get a real, confirmed peek at this much-hyped smartphone.
Meanwhile, LG and US telco Sprint certainly have something up their sleeves. The companies have issued invitations to the media for the same event, advertising that Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will be attending. If Microsoft weren't involved, I'd have guessed that the announcement related to LG's entrance into the Android world. LG may indeed be launching an Android phone at CES, but the spotlighted event is more likely to mark the unveiling of an LG-manufactured WiMax-capable Windows Mobile phone.
Palm's press conference this year probably won't be as splashy as the Pre/WebOS affair of 2009, but it will probably announce an updated version of the WebOS.
Samsung and HTC are likely to introduce a few Windows Mobile phones -- and possibly even some Android goodness -- at CES.