CES 2017: A round up of the best tech on show
While there wasn’t a standout new gadget like HTC Vive to get excited about this year, CES still bought us some really interesting new takes on existing technology. Here are some of the top pieces of tech we discovered this year.
First, check out our video highlights from LG, Samsung and Sony
Have TV’s reached peak thinness?
The biggest wow’s at CES were reserved for televisions. The blacks are blacker, the screens are brighter, they’ll display even more colours, and they’re thin. Super thin.
The battle still rages as to which technology will reign supreme. Samsung’s doing QLED, LG is doing OLED. But it’s no longer just LG producing OLED screens. Sony will be selling their new A1E OLED television later this year. We saw the new TV at their booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and it’s very impressive.
LG wasn’t going to let Sony steal all their thunder. And their brand new W7 Wallpaper TV really did steal the show. At just 2.57mm thin, it basically blends into the wall, like a window on the world.
Alexa was everywhere
We’d been predicting that voice technology was going to make a big splash at CES this year. But who could have predicted that smart assistant Amazon Alexa would steal the show?
The Amazon Echo speaker (which includes Alexa) was the most popular gadget of 2016. It’s essentially an assistant you use voice commands with, similar to Siri or OK Google. And it can do a wide variety of things, including turning compatible smart tech on and off, answering questions, playing music and much more. While the concept of a smart assistant isn’t new, taking it out of our phones and computers, and putting it in a speaker that lives in your house has been a bit of a game changer.
Clever Amazon hasn’t restricted Alexa to their own hardware, licensing it for use with many other manufacturers products. And we do mean many. LG launched a robot version of it, and a fridge with Alexa installed. Everywhere you turned there were clock radio versions, different speakers, robots…all with Alexa’s same pleasant voice answering your questions.
It’s important to say that Google has a similar concept, which has launched in the US but isn’t quite available in the UK yet. But in terms of hearts and minds, Amazon Alexa is definitely winning the battle.
So what does this mean for 2017? Smart Assistants are set to be everywhere. And if they’re not baked in to your product, there’s every likelihood that if it’s smart tech, they’ll be able to control it.
Your kitchen is getting smarter
The connected kitchen was a hive of activity at CES.
LG and Samsung featured new versions of their smart fridges. The main features of both expanded their useful camera function, which means you can pull up a live feed from your fridge on your phone while you’re out shopping. New WebOS features mean you can leave messages on the screen on the front of the fridge. And in LG’s case, if you discover you are running short, you can ask Alexa to order you some more, as the Amazon assistant is now built in.
Panasonic showed off a kitchen of the future that really blew us away. Wine fridges have see through doors which double as screens on which you can pull up details on the wine you’re about to drink. Choose a wine, and it will analyse the contents of your food fridge, and suggest a companion dish.
On another screen, a chef will run you step by step through the cooking the dish.
And induction cooktops are everywhere, but not that you’ll be able to tell. On your bench, even on your dining table, so you can hold do it yourself dinner parties, where your guests can cook their own food.
Virtually no news from VR
There was an awful lot of excitement about what Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality Tech we’d see at CES, after an explosion of the new technology the previous year. But the answer was actually very little.
Lenovo announced a new VR headset that will come in much cheaper than Occulus Rift or HTC Vive. Unfortunately it’s just a concept at this point, so we didn’t get a chance to try it out.
Huawei also introduced their first VR headset, but it’s just a Huawei branded version of Google’s Daydream View.
The real winner though was HTC, who introduced a special tracker that turns ordinary objects like tennis rackets or toy guns into trackable VR controllers. They also committed to building a standalone wireless VR headset, which will mean no longer having to be tethered to your computer.
Robots aren’t taking over the world (yet)
While we’re not quite at peak robot, it was interesting to see the technology becoming a little more prevalent. The most helpful robot we met was LG’s AirBot Airport Guide. This cylindrical bot has two expressive eyes that blink and look questioningly up at you. Insert your boarding pass into it, and it can tell you which gate your flight is leaving from, and how long you’ve got till it departs. And, if you’d like it to, it can even take you to the gate.
It’s bound to find plenty of other ways to help. Showing you where different items are in the supermarket is definitely one way it could be useful.
Other than that, we saw a lot of robots that are designed to play more of a nanny role with your children. Like Kuri by Mayfield Robotics, which helps encourage your child to do activities, and also keeps an eye on your house. Leka Robot helps special needs children better understand the things they see around them. And Aristotle by Nabi is a robot that watches over your children while they sleep, like an advanced baby monitor.
Other weird and wonderful Robots include RoboMower – the lawn moving equivalent of a robot vacuum. And say goodbye to folding your laundry with Laundroid, a highly expensive, but useful solution to one of life’s most boring chores.
The big winner in the content world was the new Nvidia Shield. It packs Netflix and Amazon in 4K and HDR, but it also has loads of games too, and can replace your Google Home, so you can chat to your TV and control your entire home. That’s definitely the future.