Every year 140,000 consumers from 170 different countries cram into a showroom in Las Vegas that to catch a brief glimpse at our technological future. Unlike popular electronic expos, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is open to the public. For $200, and the ability to buy your tickets online within 30 minutes after sales starts you get the golden ticket.
CES is a complete mixed bag of electronics. Big companies like Apple (never been), Google (stopped attending a few years ago), and Microsoft (first year without attendance) are never on the floor, which lets third party developers shine at CES.
Sony Xperia Z – A beautiful Android smartphone with amazing features. A 5 inch 1080p display, 13 MG camera, 1080 HDR shooting. This thing is a monster. Water (up to one meter for 30 minutes) , dust , shock , and crack resistant. It has wet finger tracking technology so hypothetically, you could tweet in the shower… if that’s your thing. Under the hood this beauty has 2GBs of RAM and a quad core processor. I would trade my iPhone for this any day.
Fitbit Flex – Its a wristband that measures your steps taken, calories burned, distance traveled, hours slept, active minutes, and even the quality of your sleep. You can set fitness goals online, and when you achieve 20% of said goal, the Fitbit notifies you by lighting up a single led on the wristband. They launch later in spring, and I am actually excited to get my hands on one.
Curved TVs – Samsung and LG have somehow both made the world’s first curved TV (they both claim to be the first even though they are separate TVs). The curved look gives ample viewing from pretty much any angle (except from the back). Standing directly in front of the TV apparently gives a surreal IMAX feel. Both are 3D and 2D compatible and worth more money than I can ever hope to have.
Self Parking Audi – Jumping head first into the self-driving auto industry, Audi’s “piloted parking” A7 is quite amazing. In their CES video, the Audi was brought to the entrance of a parking complex, and then left. The driving presses a button on her smartphone, and off the car goes, looking for an empty parking space and parking itself. When the driver comes back, she presses a button and once again and the car pulls out and drives to where it was left. It really is mind blowing, and if you are not convinced, watch the video here.
Polaroid IM1836 – The world’s first android powered camera with interchangeable lens capability. This thing has great specs (18.1 MPs, shoots 1080p, and has a 3.5 inch touch screen), but it has some gripes. You can edit and upload photos right on the screen but only over wifi or bluetooth. You get interchangeable lenses, but this thing only has one button, so its a point and shoot. Developers also flashed that you can make phone calls, send texts, and download apps but remember this thing has a super expensive lense on the front (so be careful with it) and it is heavy and clunky to carry around (like all DSLRs are). I would have preferred a camera with less apps and more buttons.
iPhone Cases – At the show, there was aisle upon aisle of just iPhone cases. Brand names like Otterbox and Speck made appearances along with half the population of China. Waterproof cases , dust proof cases , shock resistant cases , speaker enhancement cases, scratch resistant cases, kawaii booster cases etc. Towards the end it got horribly unoriginal and annoying.
Necomimi Brainwave Cat Ears – Cosplayers around the world rejoice! They have now made robotic ‘cat ears’ that you control with your mind. A little sensor attaches to your forehead and based on your current state the ears will perk up, droop down, or twitch accordingly. Surprisingly, at least from the videos I have seen, they actually work.
In conclusions, this was an odd year for CES. There really wasn’t a ringleader so instead of one company flashing their advertisements and money in front of thousands of people, the little guys all shone equally and I really like that. I saw a lot of cool and funky gadgets that I definitely am looking forward to in the coming years (pointing at you augmented reality eyeglasses).