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CES 2020 preview: PCs, laptops, tablets and gaming

Laptops and tablet move into new, experimental forms, while gaming PCs amp up the power.

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The Asus Zenbook Pro Duo. 

Sarah Tew/CNET
This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

CES has always been a computer-heavy show, and 2020 isn't looking terribly different. Besides new laptop designs, updated favorites and ever more powerful gaming PCs, we expect to see new components from some of the companies that power modern tech, such as Intel, AMD and Nvidia

These are the PC trends and themes we expect to see at CES 2020.

Flex screen vs. dual screen

Re-examined, reimagined displays aren't just for phones anymore. We've seen a steady uptick in prototypes and experimental designs for laptops and two-in-one tablets that play with the traditional clamshell in unexpected ways. Following the hype surrounding the Samsung Galaxy Fold and folding Motorola Razr, we've seen some prototypes of flexible-screen laptops, which take a slatelike tablet and fold it right in half, creating a display side and an onscreen keyboard side. 

Less outré, but probably more practical, are designs for dual-screen laptops, where the screen splits at the hinge and doesn't actually flex. We've seen extra-screen laptops like the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo, or even ones that look like two iPads hinged together at the side. Expect to see at least a few companies at CES 2020 show off versions of these, even if they're not quite ready for retail yet. 

Lock 'em down

Business laptops are boring by design, but one way to build a little buttoned-down buzz is to add new security features. Physical sliders have replaced sticky notes over webcams, and besides Intel-powered approaches like vPro, we might see more ways to keep laptop screens private or to keep track of errant PCs so they don't walk away from a busy office. 

The year we cared about AMD again

Most of the PCs we test and review use Intel rather than AMD CPUs, and the same is true of Nvidia on the graphics side (especially on laptops). But AMD is powering both new 2020 living-room game consoles, the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, so there's at least a chance that we'll hear some interesting technical details about new game hardware at AMD's annual press conference. Probably some new processors and GPUs for computers, too. 

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HP's Emperium 65, a Big Format Gaming Display, or BFGD. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Smarter screens and faster games

Computer displays continue to evolve at a rapid pace. In some cases, high-end technology like OLED screens and HDR is driving it, or moonshot projects like HP's 65-inch BFGD monitor. In other cases, esports are the driver, pushing a very specific set of specs, like 240Hz refresh rates on 1,920x1,080-pixel-resolution 24-inch screens. 

But overall quality will continue to be a driver, too, with new calibration tools and a bigger emphasis on delivering a creator-friendly experience. 

As always, gaming laptops and desktops will be a dominant force at CES. Without the generational shift we had going from Nvidia GeForce 1080 to the 2080 GPUs, we expect the new gaming hardware to be more incremental side, but don't worry, most of it will still be expensive. 

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