I’ve been holding off writing much about CES this week because, as a news-cycle bottom-feeder, I like to wait for the dust to settle a little before wading into a week’s tech developments. And so, without further ado, here’s my take on CES 2014, the distillation of a dozen best-of CES lists into a highly-concentrated astronaut-food-package of news: The CES 2014 Rundown Rundown.
TVs (“4K”, curved and/or projection)
The big deal this year was what they’re calling “4K” TVs. No need to look up what that means, here at TWIT we aim to please: 4K is the newest thing in pixel density. If HDTV is 1080 pixels wide in a 16:9 format, 4K is just what it sounds like: roughly 4000 pixels in the same format. The trends this year seemed to be concave screens, though Sony’s 4K “Ultra Short Throw” projector made CNet, Wired and Gizmodo’s lists by allowing you to press it up against the wall you’re projecting on. The most talked-about traditional TV seems to be Vizio’s 55″ 4K set, because they’ve cracked the $1000 price point for the first time. The Verge and Wired both went for that one, while PC Magazine went for Vizio’s 120″ offering, and nobody could help but mention Samsung’s new oddly bendable televisions. Digital Trends picked LG’s 77″ curved OLED as their top pick for TVs.
Oh and Sony has a 4K camcorder that “only” costs $2000. In other news, people still make camcorders.
The one thing every single reviewer included in their list was the new line of smart watches by Pebble, “Pebble Steel.” They seem to win because of what they aren’t: ugly, clunky, or awkward. I won’t say anything more about them, because you can read about them at all these sites.
Wearables That Aren’t Pebble’s New Smart Watch
Everybody felt like they had to talk about something, but none of it seems to have been very exciting. The Verge gave wearables their “Biggest Disappointment” award, while everyone else tried to explain why their pick was actually pretty great. Wired picked Intel’s smart earbuds, Digital Trends picked Thalmic’s Myo bracelet, CNet picked LG’s Lifeband Touch and Lumus’s DK40 Smart Glasses, SlashGear picked the Jaybird Reign (another wristband), and ZD Net picked Epson’s Moverio BT200 smart glasses.
Honourable mention goes to the wide array of baby-focused tech, none of which I’ll mention here because it’s really not worth anyone’s time.
The winner overall seems to be Samsung’s new line of Notes, the Galaxy Note Pro series, which now come in a 12.2″ screen model. Dissenting voices were heard from The Verge, which hailed the Lenovo Thinkpad 8 as the best, along with PC Magazine who decided it would be best to split the difference and have best Windows and best Android tablet categories so they could mention both.
While Sony’s Z1 Compact phone seems to have made a few waves, the hype all seems to be about an accessory for the iPhone, Mophie’s new Space Pack, which is a case that provides not only extra battery power for your iPhone, but also extra storage space and a manually configurable file directory system, fixing what may be the biggest drawbacks with the iPhone’s design.
Oculus Rift Crystal Cove
While only a prototype, it may be the most talked-about innovation at CES 2014. Oculus Rift has produced a virtual reality headset that seems poised for the market, getting rave reviews from just about everybody.
If you’re not already aware, Steam is a software-based gaming platform for computers created by game producer Valve. In the past year its CEO Gabe Newell has been talking about the up-and-coming release of dedicated hardware to turn your living room into a Steam-powered gaming center, and this week they did just that. The biggest innovation is, of course, that Valve won’t be making the machines. With twelve different manufacturers displaying their offerings, it’s an entirely different model from the current one-size-fits-all approach taken by Sony and Microsoft, and one can easily imagine the most dedicated of gamers getting a super high-end system to take advantage of their specially-installed low-latency internet to fight ever larger virtual space battles, while someone like me could buy a low-end system to play portal 2 in my living room.
Razer’s new Project Christine, while still a concept rather than a commercial product, also drew a lot of attention, as they try to remake the gaming PC as a plug-and-play modular device. The idea seems to be that you could just stack up your parts and upgrade them as you go, without actually disassembling your computer. I’m not sure it’ll ever catch on, but it’s a nice idea.
In the “also there” category: Audi showed off a fancy car, Fuji and Polaroid have new instant-print cameras, T-mobile pissed some people off, MakerBot released a new home 3D printer you probably still can’t afford, and Michael Bay had a bad day.
See you all tomorrow for the regular weekly run-down!