Engadget's CES 2013 Preview: Laptops

With CES looming like an electrically charged storm of news and announcements, it's time for us to give you our best bets on what you'll see come January. During the month of December, we'll bring you a series of CES preview posts, forecasting what you can expect when the news deluge begins. For more of what's to come, check out our hub.

Engadget's CES 2013 Preview Laptops

It's incredible to think that when CES 2012 kicked off back in January we had only reviewed five Ultrabooks. Yep, five. Enough to count on one hand. Even weirder, we still hadn't seen that many by the time we wrapped our coverage of the show. Sure, a few companies teased ultraportables they planned to release later in the year, but these only represented a slice of the 100-plus models slated to launch in 2012. And that didn't even include all the Ultrabook imposters! Ever hear of Sleekbooks? Ultrathins? Whoever said PCs are dead clearly doesn't have to review them for a living.

In any event, the months passed and we've since seen a hundred different models (or at least it feels like it), with most of them running Windows 8. And who could've guessed what a difference an OS would make? Back around CES 2012, we thought regular old, non-touch Ultrabooks would still be easy to come by. We thought the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga, whose screen folds all the way back, would be the strangest-looking laptop we saw.

As it turns out, the Yoga is one of many Windows 8 convertibles we've handled, and it's rare that we review an Ultrabook without a touchscreen. Until OEMs figure out which form factors consumers like best, we expect them to announce at least a few more eye-catching designs at CES. And, just as the original wave of Ultrabooks were followed by a slew of more affordable models, we expect to see some more mid-range offerings -- you know, ones that don't start at $1,200.

The truth is, though, we know of at least three major companies that won't be announcing anything at CES (sorry, thanks to confidentiality agreements, we can't name names right now). That could be a result of Microsoft having a reduced presence at the show, but it also might be that mixed reviews of Windows 8 systems have led some companies to go back to the drawing board and retool whatever it was they had in the pipeline. Meanwhile, as we said, companies that do plan to unveil products are going to play it pretty safe this time around, with budget laptops and older systems getting upgraded with touchscreens, or new color options. Word on the street, though, is that some PC makers will instead choose to launch their wares at the Mobile World Congress trade show taking place in Barcelona in late February. So... see you in Spain, then?