How to Watch CES 2013 Warner Crocker01/05/2013 CES 2013 is about to happen. About to happen is a good way to describe what occurs at this gigantic trade show that, in my view, is slowly losing some of its luster. Products are put on display, products are hyped, merchandisers bet on what will be the hot items for the coming year (mostly, during the fall), and everyone hopes that at least something appears that is exciting enough to capture the public’s imagination that might turn into a real product. The bloggers are ready. CES 2013 is gearing up and there will be more words written about new gadgets, new technology, and new promises than we can consume in a month of Sundays. As in past years, most of what we’re going to see will get leaked ahead of time, so there will be few surprises at the press conferences and on the show floor. It all takes place in Las Vegas, the magical kingdom, where night is turned into day and hopes and dreams abound. The smoke and mirrors that make up any CES require eagle eyes to sort through all the hype (and incredible email filters to sort through all of the press releases.) Much of what we’ll see will never make it into the hands of consumers, but this is the land of hopes and dreams. Remember that each of the last several years had been christened “The Year of the Tablet.” Well that was partly true, as up until recently the year of the Tablet has been “The Year of the iPad.” Who knows what this year will be called, but I’m betting that it won’t be anything hyped in a keynote.Advertisement I’ll again be watching from afar this year and commenting on the themes and trends we see emerging. Intriguingly it makes it easier to spot trends, both negative and positive, when you’re not caught up in the grind that can be the show. That’s not to criticize anyone attending the show on the ground. The gang from GBM will be all over Las Vegas bringing you the latest and greatest. But there’s a way to watch any CES and sort through the hype. Keep in mind that for many gadget makers, while they have invested much already, CES 2013 is a way for them to gauge how much more to invest to bring the product to market. In the meantime, here’s a list of things to consider as you digest the news. These first three fall into a broad category for just about any gadget you hear about. If a device can’t be touched at the show by bloggers or reporters you won’t see it until late fall of 2013 at the earliest. If ever. If it is under glass, well don’t hold your breath. If it is called a prototype, move on. If there is no release date or the release date is “later in 2013″ then you know there are still quite a few things to work out. If there is no price point announced then you know that all the parts and suppliers haven’t been nailed down yet. The “Years of the Tablet” have passed in my opinion. Yes, there will be lots of Tablets on display, some with interesting hybrid form factors and other novelty approaches. Tablets are what Tablets are going to be for awhile. (That’s not a bad thing.) The real battle is going to be on price point and you won’t hear much news about that with many of the new Tablets that are announced. These next items relate more to Tablets and Slates specifically.Advertisement If new device is being pitched by using the iPad as a comparison tool instead of the device’s own features and benefits then you probably don’t want to take it too seriously. Listen for what version of Android the device will be running. Anything being talked about at CES 2013 that isn’t running Jelly Bean out of the box shouldn’t merit your full consideration. You’ll hear lots of promises about the how it will be upgradeable to the latest and greatest. If you haven’t caught on by now that this has a good chance of not happening, you are not paying attention. Vague answers about upgrade paths should raise doubts not excitement. If there isn’t a price point attached, we don’t care. And some other things to look out for this year.Advertisement Thin is in. Great. Every thing be thin. This isn’t a selling point anymore. TV, TV, TV. Or should I say, Apple TV. Everyone is talking some sort of way to grab your remote. And as always Apple continues to dominate the conversation without even making an announcement. Keep in mind that all the tech innovation promised will depend on the media conglomerates cooperating. Smartphones. There will be more than we can keep up with. But most of the real smartphone news won’t happen until later in the year at other shows. There is no big Microsoft presence this year. Microsoft changed its strategy. That’s curious given the imminent launch of the Surface Pro, and the continuing push for Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8. And perhaps telling.