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Engadget's CES 2013 Preview: Digital Cameras

Zach Honig

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.

Las Vegas has seen its fair share of digital camera launches, but with the PMA show all but defunct, manufacturers are shifting their focus to overseas events, like Photokina in Cologne, IFA in Berlin and even newcomer CP+ in Yokohama, Japan. That trade show trio helps to keep the international airlines in business, but it doesn't do us much good at CES, when nearly every other consumer electronics category gets a major products boost. That's not to say there won't be any new cameras at all -- PMA does have a small presence at the show, and major players like Canon, Nikon, Samsung and Sony all invest in significant floor space (they'll need some new products to fill their shelves, after all). But announcements are largely spread throughout the year.

Last year's show brought consumer and advanced amateur models, alike. Fujifilm introduced the X-Pro1 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, Canon showed off the PowerShot G1X with a 1.5-inch sensor, Samsung boosted its SMART line of point-and-shoots, while Polaroid delivered the SC1630 Android hybrid. By the end of 2012, all of these additions faded from memory, overshadowed by more powerful ILCs, advanced compacts from Sony and the Samsung Galaxy Camera, respectively. That's not to say that any of these products were insignificant, but they surely weren't blockbusters, despite CES-fueled excitement at the time.

Looking forward to 2013, we can expect another batch of updates. Wireless connectivity and downloadable apps will likely lead the pack when it comes to brand-new features, and while Android may make an appearance in another compact or two, it won't be the star of the show. We may see larger sensors in smaller bodies with cheaper price tags. As much as ever, in-camera filters will represent a large portion of each model's feature description, and touchscreens will continue to proliferate, especially among higher-end models.

We'll also see cameras making their way into a larger variety of other devices. For better or worse, manufacturers will embed cameras in pricier TVs, adding value for customers who frequently use Skype or other video chatting tools. Tablets, laptops and smartphones will also get updated sensors and optics, though we don't anticipate capabilities that'll force your point-and-shoot into early retirement -- not yet, at least. Eye-tracking may also have a more substantial presence within select laptops and desktop computers, bringing additional cameras into the picture. We could also see camera-equipped robotic vacuums (for remote monitoring and navigation), and maybe even some home appliance surprises (the answer to "who stole my yogurt?" could be provided by a video log). Sure, that last one may sound a bit far-fetched, but with thousands of companies competing for your attention, there's no telling what crazy implementations we'll see this January.

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