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CES 2019 preview: PCs, laptops, tablets and gaming

Nvidia is looking to shake up the gaming laptop scene with powerful new GPUs, while other PCs pitch added privacy.

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Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Bigger, faster and, yes, more expensive computers are coming to CES 2019. A lot of that will be driven by Nvidia's new laptop graphics cards, known (unofficially for now) as the RTX 20-series. There will also be plenty to see on the more modest end of the price spectrum, from Chromebooks to budget two-in-one hybrids. 

For sheer numbers, you can't beat the cavalcade of laptops, desktops, tablets announced at the show each year. These are the PC trends and themes we expect to see at CES 2019.


Gaming laptops get an RTX boost

There should be an ongoing list of the worst-kept secrets in consumer technology. For right now, at least, it's the laptop versions of Nvidia's RTX 2080 graphics cards. The desktop versions have only been available for a couple of months (and are already roiling some PC makers, who say their high performance is matched by an even higher price increase over the previous generation), and the inevitable laptop versions are sure to follow. 

Basically, anyone in the gaming laptop, uh, game, will have a new or updated model with RTX graphics, even as some of the details about GPU names and capabilities are still said to be up in the air.

This one goes to... 17

The 17-inch laptop has been something of an endangered species of late. Apple killed its version many years ago, and since then even gaming laptops have shifted towards 15-inch models. That may all change at CES 2019, where we expect several 17-inch laptops to be high-profile launches across multiple categories and price ranges. 

The question remains: Will consumers really want one of these giant laptops, or at that point, do you just go all-in on a desktop?

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A rare (for now) 17-inch laptop.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Keeping your secrets safe

Computer security is easily one of the most consequential topics in technology. The big-picture stuff, like network security and virus protection usually gets handled much further up the corporate IT ladder, but the old-fashioned, one-on-one kind of security issues and data theft? That's on you. 

Look for several PC makers to step up computer security at the individual machine level. That may include more types of screens with special features for warding off prying eyes or webcams that shut down (sometimes with a physical shutter or kill switch) for when you want to make sure no one is watching, but using a sticky note just looks unprofessional.

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Yeah, that's a pretty big screen. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Bonus: Big displays -- like, really big

Last year, we saw several prototypes of Nvidia's BFGD concept, which stands for Big Format Gaming Display. These were 65-inch no-compromise computer monitors, designed specifically for PC gaming. Since then, we've heard nothing but vague updates and delays

Will CES 2019 be where we finally see the finished products, expected from HP, Asus and others, and find out what they'll cost? 

Originally published Dec. 19, 2018.
Update, Jan. 2, 2019: Revised introduction.

CES 2019: All our coverage of this year's show.