Cameras and camcorders: Slimmer pickings at CES 2014?

For a few years, interesting cameras debuted at CES. Those days might be over.

Last year Samsung announced a 3D lens for its NX system. Can we wave 3D a big bye-bye this year? Lori Grunin/CNET

As I do every year, I started the process of writing my CES preview by looking back at old ones I've written. I found my piece from 2005; that year, I was hoping for "true 16:9 support to become a standard feature in camcorders with high-resolution sensors."

How fitting. This year high-resolution is back in play as we should begin to see the emergence of consumer 4K models, as usual, from companies that also have 4K TVs they're trying to sell (Sony, Panasonic, JVC and so on). Unlike the consumer 3D debacles of years past, though, this is a trend I really want to take off. Say what you want about the (in)visible differences between HD and 4K during playback, it always makes sense to do your content capture in the highest-quality format that's feasible. This is one case where manufacturers can use moar pixels in the service of good rather than evil.

That's really the one bright spot. We should see more consolidation in the traditional consumer camcorder market, which makes sense; as with compacts, the overwhelming number of options has been more of a hindrance than a help to confused buyers. The really cheap ones have been displaced by phone cameras and point-of-view/action cams. There will likely be a blitzkrieg of those, as well as tons of accessories for mounting them onto your person and your transportation. Hopefully, there will be some truly useful phone camera accessories as well rather than mountains of knockoffs.

Olloclip rolled out a phone case to use with its lens system last year. Here's hoping we see some similarly useful accessories this year. Lori Grunin/CNET

As for cameras, there are several reasons why we don't expect to see much activity there. In addition to shrinkage in the number of inexpensive point-and-shoots we'd expect from a contraction in the market for them, many companies are now reserving their big mainstream camera announcements for the relatively new CP+ show that takes place in Japan in mid-February. And Photokina, the biennial uber-tradeshow for the camera community, takes place this fall.

We don't anticipate much from any new ones at CES, either. Tweaks to product lines, bumps in resolution and lens lengths, improvements in Wi-Fi...the usual.

 

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