01/04/2012 12:35 pm ET Updated Jan 04, 2012

CES 2012: Predictions For What To Expect At January's Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Electronics Show, the world's largest consumer tech expo, is less than a week away and the blogosphere is abuzz with predictions for the Super Bowl of tech. The ultrabook, a new kind of laptop, is expected to make the biggest splash at CES.

Wired estimates there will be 30-50 ultrabooks on offer at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, calling them the "year's hottest gadget." According to The New York Times, the term "ultrabook" has been bandied about since May, but what exactly are these trendy gadgets?

In a November post, Peter Pachal at Mashable explained that "ultrabook" is a marketing term invented by Intel to describe a new class of laptop which is thin (<0.71 inches), light (< 3.1 pounds), moderately priced (<$1,000), has a long battery life (>5 hours), flash-based drive for storage and of course uses Intel processors.

These "wispy" laptops aren't the only up-and-coming gadgets to look forward to in Las Vegas. In a preview post, Engadget predicts a rash of "superphones" which will have incredible cameras (13 megapixels!) and HD displays. Other smartphone offerings that the folks at Engadget are looking forward to include an abundance of near field communication capabilities, more advanced handsets for the Windows Phone platform and new additions from Nokia, LG, Motorola and Sony Ericsson.

Other hardware announcements could include a slew of smaller tablets (in the 7-8 inch range), point and shoot cameras with lots of features, cool new media upgrades for cars and super-thin TVs.

On the super-thin TV front, there will likely be a new 55-incher with organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) from LG. This fancy set -- no price has been released, but estimates put it above $5,000 -- is reportedly being introduced at CES. However, the Associated Press reports that it's unlikely to go on sale until the fourth quarter of 2012.

Perhaps most excitingly, 2012 could be the beginning of the end of wires. Inductive, or wireless charging, will supposedly be big this year. Engadget writes, "We're talking more convenient ways to wirelessly top up your phone, possibly integration into your car and home -- all in a way that's far more subtle than that black industrial mat of yesteryear."

While there will be lots of gadgets on offer, ZDNET predicts that this year's show will underscore the diminishing importance of hardware. Andrew Nusca predicts that CES 2012 will be, "one of the worst years in recent memory for new products," because these days it's all about software. Nusca writes, "Displays will be displays. Buttons will be virtual. Glass will be everywhere. The real innovation will only be seen when the device is turned on and used. It can't be touched, only experienced. It's not what OEMs do; it’s how."

Want more CES predictions? Check out the video below, where Patrick Jones talks about the latest buzz.

Get more news about CES 2012 on our Big News Page here.