CES 2021: all the news and highlights from the first all-digital CES

CES 2021 news
(Image credit: LG)

CES 2021 is live! The world's biggest annual consumer electronics show is under way this week – and it's a markedly different affair this year.

Rather than taking over Las Vegas for several days, CES 2021 – the 51st edition of the event – is an all-digital experience for the first time. Companies are sharing their latest and greatest innovations online via the organiser's media hub, as opposed to at a physical event in the Las Vegas Conventional Center. (A heads-up for forward planners: CES is due to return to Las Vegas from 5th to 8th January in 2022. We hope.)

Other than tip-top reporting from a fresh-faced, jet-lag-free What Hi-Fi? team, that means some of the year's biggest consumer electronics have been unveiled this week. There have been plenty of product announcements in from the camps of Samsung, Sony, LG and JBL and more, as you can see below.

Here we round-up the CES 2021 news and highlights in the worlds of TV, audio and in-car entertainment...

CES 2021

(Image credit: CTA)

CES 2021 TV news

CES 2021

LG webOS 6.0 (Image credit: LG)

All You Need To Know Round-ups

LG 2021 TV lineup: everything you need to know

Sony 2021 TV line-up: models, sizes, specs, everything you need to know

Samsung 2021 TV lineup: everything you need to know


Buying an 8K TV? This logo will ensure it has all the latest 8K specs

TCL announces ultra-slim OD Zero Mini-LED TVs + Google TVs this year

Hisense launches TriChroma laser TVs

Panasonic's flagship OLED TV for 2021 is the JZ2000

LG unveils flagship G1 and C1 OLED TVs

LG Display announces its smallest OLED TV panel to date

LG unveils web0S 6.0 and updated Magic Remote for 2021 TVs

LG QNED TVs see Mini LED technology debut in its 2021 LCD line-up

From bedroom to bistro – LG showcases its latest transparent OLED TV

Sony's new Bravia CORE streaming service goes big on IMAX Enhanced movies

Sony Bravia XR TV range brings cognitive intelligence to picture processing

Sony teases new microLED displays on YouTube ahead of CES 2021 reveal

Samsung announces 2021 'Neo QLED' TVs with Mini LED backlight tech

CES 2021 audio news

CES 2021

JBL L100 Classic 75 (Image credit: JBL)

Groundbreaking LG Rollable phone turns into a tablet in CES 2021 teaser

LG Éclair is a pastry-sized soundbar that supports Dolby Atmos and DTS:X

Anker Soundcore wireless earbuds go big on features but not price

TCL unveils first Roku-friendly, truly wireless soundbar

Technics teases potentially cheaper AirPods Pro rivals

Sennheiser launches IE 300 earbuds with premium sound and pro design

Panasonic unveils Final Fantasy Edition Dolby Atmos soundbar

V-Moda adds Bluetooth and noise cancelling to M-200 headphones

Sony launches new 360 Reality Audio wireless speakers and video streaming service

JBL kicks off 75th anniversary celebrations with limited-edition L100 Classic speakers

JBL SA750 is a modern-retro Class G amplifier with streaming

JBL Charge 5 Bluetooth speaker looks to improve on the very best

JBL Tour is a new range of premium wireless noise-cancelling headphones

JBL's Live Series headphones offer wireless and noise-cancelling for less

JBL Bar 5.0 MultiBeam: a compact soundbar with "Virtual Dolby Atmos" technology

CES 2021 car audio

CES 2021

McIntosh MX950 Jeep Cherokee (Image credit: Jeep/McIntosh)

Panasonic and Klipsch team up to support in-car Dolby Atmos Music

Harman Kardon brings 3D spatial audio and live music concerts to your car

Mercedes MBUX Hyperscreen is a giant 56-inch OLED 'in-car cinema'

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L serves up 19-speaker McIntosh sound system

CES 2021 dates: when is CES?

CES 2021 officially takes place this week from Monday 11th to Thursday 14th January, a week later than the show's usual dates. A heads-up for forward planners: CES is due to return to Las Vegas from 5th to 8th January in 2022. (We hope.)

The first day (today) is the 'media day', when over 20 companies will host their biggest press conferences of the year. Essentially, this is when you can expect a slew of new product announcements, which we'll be dutifully reporting on here on whathifi.com.

Exhibitors will be able to use the following days to show off their newly announced kit through online demos and presentations.

CES 2021 kicks off today at 11:30pm GMT (6:30pm ET, 3:30pm PT), to be more precise, with an opening keynote by Verizon's chairman and CEO, Hans Vestberg. The keynote will discuss, "5G as the framework of the 21st century, the essential tech of the present and accelerated tech of the future to move our global community forward, such as telemedicine, tele-education and more".

On Tuesday at 12:30pm GMT (7:30am ET, 4:30am PT), Samsung, Fox Sports and ATSC will host a 'Next Generation Television in Focus' session concerning the advent of 8K Ultra HD and NEXTGEN TV. "A revolution in TV is coming, and with it will come advanced display technologies giving consumers a taste of truly immersive viewing experiences. How are consumer expectations going to change and how are leading manufacturers aiming to meet — and even exceed — those expectations?"

The CES 2021 schedule can be viewed here.

CES 2021

(Image credit: CES)

CES 2021 preview: what will be announced?

CTA, the event's organiser, is expecting more people to 'attend' than ever before, owing to its digital nature. Over 1000 companies are set to offer over 100 hours of programming. Big AV hitters Sony, Samsung, LG, Philips, Panasonic, TCL and Hisense are all officially involved, as are audio companies including Audio-Technica and Pioneer. 

Brands who are not officially linked to the show will no doubt use the CES timeframe to make announcements of their own, too.

LG picked up a 'CES Best of Innovation Award' ahead of the show, with its OLED TV technology being recognised in the gaming category (why? Because it's introducing the LG Bendable CSO (Cinematic Sound OLED) gaming display, which can switch from a flat screen to curved at your command.) 

But more headline-grabbing is its announcement of its first Mini LED-backlit TVs, which will represent the pinnacle of LG's LCD TVs for 2021 and which we will hear more about during CES. The LG QNED Mini LED TV range will be 10-strong and combine quantum dot and NanoCell technologies, with up to 30,000 Mini LEDs per panel. Featuring 4K and 8K panels ranging up to 86 inches, 2500 dimming zones and a claimed contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, this could mark a revival for the company's LCD portfolio.

Never one to shy away from crazy OLED concepts, LG will also be making a splash with its latest, pandemic-friendly (!) transparent OLED display (pictured below).

CES 2021

(Image credit: LG)

Press conference: Monday 11th January, 10pm GMT (5pm ET, 2pm PT)
Sony is nothing if not prolific at CES, so while we're cautious to presume anything this year will be typical, we're at least hopeful that the Japanese giant will have plenty of new products in store for us in January. New 2021 Sony TV ranges and presumably plenty of PS5 talk will no doubt be on the cards, and our fingers are crossed for more Sony audio product reveals than were at CES 2020, too. Could CES 2021 mark the introduction of the highly anticipated Sony WF-1000XM4 (successors to the WF-1000XM3)?

2021 looks to be quite the exciting year for Samsung. It has already confirmed plans to launch a consumer MicroLED TV early in the year, and in November it registered a host of new QLED TV technology trademarks – which we'd presume would be at the core of a new-and-improved QLED offering for 2021. One thing we do know about the 2021 QLED range is that it will feature a HDR10+ Adaptive mode, which, like Dolby Vision IQ for Dolby Vision content, promises to enhance HDR10+ content according to the brightness of your room.

Samsung has also confirmed the launch date for its Galaxy S21 phone as 14th January (a month earlier than usual), when we could also see new Galaxy Buds Pro true wireless earbuds (pictured below) to take on the Apple AirPods Pro.

CES 2021

(Image credit: Voice / @EVLeaks / Evan Blass)

TV reveal: Friday 8th January, 10am GMT (5am ET, 2am PT)
Panasonic is due to unveil its 2021 TV line-up the week before CES kicks off. The company is behind some of the best TVs of 2020, so we are expecting plenty more where that quality came from in the new sets, which hopefully sport next-gen HDMI features for gamers this time.

HARMAN ExPLORE: Thursday 7th January, 2pm GMT (9am ET, 6am PT)
While not officially associated with CES, Harman is hosting a 'HARMAN ExPLORE' virtual event that will 'offer a behind the scenes look at what’s in-store for 2021' from the Harman-Kardon and JBL brands. Expect new audio hardware – headphones, portable speakers and high-end kit – as well as plenty of automotive audio talk. It's 2021 marks JBL's 75th birthday, so we're expecting the brand to celebrate in style.

CES 2020 highlights

CES 2020 marked the 50th year of the Consumer Electronics Show, and predictably TVs stole a lot of the spotlight, with 8K TVs from SamsungSony and TCL, an impressive-looking 4K OLED flagship from Panasonic, and new rollable and 48in LG OLEDs all giving us a glimpse of the sets that could be in our living rooms in a few months. The 8K push this year isn't surprising considering the Tokyo Olympics is set to be broadcast in 8K in the summer.

Car technology and audio also basked in the limelight, as did true wireless headphones from the likes of Technics. We even got confirmation of the Playstation5 logo ahead of the PS5 release date later this year.

Despite obvious trends emerging, thousands of brands showed a vast range of consumer electronics – from smart robots to high-end hi-fi – within the walls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre and several other venues across the city. 

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.