Dispatches from the World's Biggest Tech Show
Our 30 Favorite Tech Products from CES 2017
The 2017 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was last week. Thousands of exhibitors showed off emerging tech — everything from thin TVs and concept cars to smart clothing and emotive robots — each of them vying to debut the “next big thing.” We were there to take it all in. If you missed it, here’s a quick recap. Not included: smart hair brushes and radiation-blocking underwear.
Additional contribution by Eric Adams.
This is the first wearable ring that has an optical heart rate sensor built into it. It tracks your activity, heart rate and sleep. It’s presumably more comfortable to wear to bed than a smartwatch or other wrist-bound devices. Another plus is that you don’t have to take it off in the shower — it’s waterproof up to 5 ATM. The only time you’ll have to take it off is to charge the device every five days or so. The Motiv Ring can be pre-ordered now for $199 and is expected to ship in spring 2017.
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Dell’s XPS 13 was arguably the best lightweight laptop running Windows 10 throughout 2016. Now Dell has announced a newer, lighter, thinner 2-in-1 iteration — and it’s a big deal. It weighs 2.7 pounds, can be configured with a Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and comes with several ports, including two USB-C’s and a microSD slot.
Lenovo Smart Assistant
More competition for Google Home and Amazon Echo is on the horizon. Lenovo, one of the best-known PC manufacturers, just announced its own tubular smart speaker. It’s integrated with Alexa, compliments of a partnership between Lenovo and Amazon, and can basically perform the same tasks as an Echo — like playing music, answering silly questions and ordering things on Amazon. Lenovo also partnered with Harman Kardon for a special-edition speaker with higher-fidelity sound. However, this better speaker will cost $180, while Lenovo’s regular smart-assistant speakers — sans Harman Kardon — only costs $130. They are expected to ship May 2017.
The Mohu Airwave is a wireless antenna that brings the dream of free TV even closer to reality. It allows customers to stream live TV (such as local channels) and also navigate their streaming device — Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast — all in one place. No extra subscription needed. It will cost $150 and should be available spring 2017.
PowerVision PowerRay Fishfinder
Onboard fish-finders are antiquated, according to PowerVision. Their new underwater drone is capable of diving to 100 feet underwater and streaming 4K video back to your mobile device or VR headset. If you don’t want to fish with it, it’ll no doubt enhance your vlog content.
LG Signature OLED TV W
LG’s incredibly thin — 2.6mm thin — OLED TV rests completely flat again your wall. At their CES press conference, LG’s execs said the “W” could stand for a number of things: “wall,” “wallpaper” or simply “wow”. The 65– or 77–inch TVs also boasts 3840 x 2160 (4K) resolution, a new webOS 3.5 operating system, and companion Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars (because a TV that thin won’t have speakers).
Nikon D5600 DSLR
Announced back in late 2016, the Nikon D5600 is a solid entry-level DSLR. But it was just revealed at CES 2017 that the D5600 will come with Snapbridge, meaning its photos instantly appear on your connected device without having to connect via wi-fi — yes, it’s even simpler to share photos. The D5600 is a solid DSLR to begin with, featuring a 24.2MP sensor and a 3.2–inch touchscreen.
HP Updates the Spectre x360 and Envy Curved All-in-One
HP has updated its lauded Spectre x360 Laptop and Envy All-in-One PC. The Spectre x360 now comes in a 15.6–inch display with 4K resolution. It also comes with a larger battery, a better Nvidia 940MX graphics chip, a smaller bezel and faster charging capabilities. The new curved 34–inch Envy All-in-One builds off of its predecessor with a micro-edge border (i.e. a smaller bezel) and an Ultra WQHD display. Basically it looks slicker and has better image quality.
TCL Mercury Blackberry
Back in December, TCL bought the rights to make BlackBerry phones. At CES 2017, they teased their first Blackberry prototype, Mercury. Expect the phone to have a physical keyboard (naturally), run on the latest Android Nougat operating system and charge via USB-C. Keep your ears open for more information. Head to The Verge to see all that the tech world knows so far spelled out.
Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT
This flash drive is a juggernaut. It’s boasts the title of “the world’s highest-capacity USB flash drive” and comes in two sizes: 1TB or 2TB. If you need a lot of storage in a portable package, take notice. PC Mag has more details.
Toyota execs were honest at their CES 2017 press conference about the fact that completely autonomous cars are a long way off. But that didn’t stop the company from unveiling this futuristic beauty, the Concept-i. It’s a semi-autonomous prototype that’s currently being tested in Japan. The Concept-i comes with its own built-in virtual assistant, named “Yui,” that learns your driving habits over time and, in some cases, will be able to take over full command of the car’s driving. It’s still a car that’s meant to be driven, and since it looks like something straight out of Minority Report, you’re crazy if you wouldn’t want to drive it.
Logitech G533 Wireless Gaming Headset
The affordable, comfortable and wireless gaming headset you’ve been waiting for is here: the G533. The latest from Logitech, the G533 takes the same Pro-G audio drivers and DTS Headphone:X surround sound as its predecessor, the acclaimed G933 Artemis Spectrum wireless headset ($200), and fits it within a simpler and more budget-friendly package.
Acer Predator 21X
It’s a $9,000 gaming laptop. And it’s huge. 21 inches and 17.6 pounds of huge. Acer unveiled this beautiful monstrosity to a stunned audience. Yes, it’s expensive (and did we mention huge?), but it’s also a beast of a gaming computer, featuring a 2560 x 1080 IPS curved display, two GeForce GTX 1080 X graphics cards, an Intel Core i7 processor, up to 64GB of RAM, four speakers, two subwoofers and five cooling fans.
Coming late March 2017, Panasonic’s GH5 is a big upgrade of their 2014 GH4. It’s 13 percent bigger in size, comes with an impressive 5-axis in-body image stabilization, and 50 percent brighter (3,680k pixels) electric viewfinder. The camera is designed to capture beautiful videos, and it does it well, shooting 4K video at 60 fps, in 8-bit 4:2:0 color.
Samsung Chromebook Plus and Chromebook Pro
Samsung and Google have a Shaq-and-Kobe partnership (in their prime) going right now. The two giants teamed up on two new Chromebooks, the Plus and Pro. The Pro has a better processor, an Intel Core M3 (versus the Plus’s ARM); but both computers have beautiful 12.3–inch, 2400 x 1600 touchscreen displays that flip 360 degrees to work in a totally flexible tablet mode. Both come with 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, two USB Type-C ports and a nearly 8–hour battery life. Most noteworthy, however, is that both laptops have full support for Android apps and come with a Note 7–like stylus pen. The Plus is expected to cost $450 and arrive in February. Expect the Pro later in the year at a higher price.
Sony Bravia OLED A1E
Not to be outdone by LG’s Wallpaper OLED TV, Sony announced its own ultra-thin OLED TV, the A1E. And it’s a beauty. Sony’s first-ever OLED TV features a stand and speakers that make it look like it’s floating. The 4K HDR smart TV runs Android TV, with Chromecasting already built in — so you can ask your Google Home to play whatever you like, and it will.
ZTE Blade Pro V8
At $230, the Blade Pro V8 is an affordable Android phone with several high-end specs, including a dual camera system, 5.5–inch full HD display, fingerprint sensor and a solid 3,140mAh battery. The Chinese-manufactured smartphone doesn’t have the fastest processor (it has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625) or the latest Android OS (it runs Marshmallow), but its two 13MP cameras are impressive for the price.
InspEar Custom Earbuds
Billed as the first “bionic ear,” these new earbuds allow you to fine-tune what you do and don’t hear in any environment. And they promise to revolutionize not just your hearing, but your interactions with your technology. Use subtle voice commands to control your smartphone or connected smart devices, receive real-time translations while chatting with people in other languages, and listen to high-quality music without compromising awareness of your surroundings. When they come out later this year, we’ll let you know if they (a) boost low-talkers and (b) finally bring an end to noisy-bar syndrome.
Blue Ella Headphones
Blue announced its first planar magnetic headphones, Ella. Unlike traditional over-ear headphones with dynamic drivers, planar magnetic headphones work, as The Verge‘s Chaim Gartenberg describes, by “pushing a thin diaphragm to generate sound.” Expect truer sound quality, and for the Ella headphones to be available for pre-order in late January 2017.
Lumigent Smart Desk Lamp
If you thought you needed a smart desk lamp, here you have it. Made by Japanese manufacturer Cerevo, Lumigent responds to “Hi Lumi” and can perform a number of things you’d expect, like brightness adjustment or the positioning (it has something akin to a robotic arm). It also has an 8MP camera for taking photos or recording conference calls. The Lumigent is a CES 2017 Innovation Awards Honoree.
Chrysler Portal Concept
This “minivan for millennials” promises to banish the anti-minivan bias for the next generation of youngling-spawners currently launching their families on Kickstarter. It’ll achieve this miracle with tech. Lots of it. Green-friendly electric propulsion with a 250–mile range, dynamic exterior LED lighting, configurable interiors that let you slide the seats back and forth on rails, hyper-connected interfaces that will keep the crowd engaged, a retracting steering column for autonomous mode, zoned audio that lets passengers listen to their own soundtracks without headsets, and — buckle up! — a group selfie-cam built into the ceiling. Millennials are going to eat this up. But don’t worry: even if you’re not in that demo, you’ll probably still dig it just fine.
Outdoor Tech Rhinos Headphones
At $130, Outdoor Tech’s new Rhinos over-ear headphones offer a truly unique value proposition — they’re rugged and wireless and affordable. The headphones stream wirelessly over Bluetooth 4.1 and have an impressive IPX6 water-resistance rating. They also have a built-in mic and can operate as a walkie talkie when using the ODT Audio app. Expect the Rhinos to be available mid-2017.
Razer Project Valerie
We don’t associate multiple displays with laptops, and that won’t change anytime soon, yet that didn’t stop Razer from building the completely ludicrous, completely amazing Project Valerie. The concept laptop has three 17–inch 4K IGZO displays (two of the displays slide out from over the main display), weighs roughly 12 pounds and supports Nvidia Surround technology for immersive gaming. Want to hook up your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive to it? It can handle that.
SanDisk Extreme PRO USB 3.1 Solid State Flash Drive
The fastest USB flash drive to date is here. The SanDisk Extreme PRO reads speeds up to 420MB/s and can write speeds up to 380MB/s. In practical terms, that means it can transfer a two-hour 4K movie using a USB 3.1 port in less than 15 seconds. If you share large files regularly, meet your new best friend. The drive comes in two sizes: 128GB ($80) and 256GB ($180) and will be available in late January 2017.
Technics Grand Class SL-1200GR
Beautiful turntables are in right now — well, they’ve always been in, really — and the new SL-1200GR by Technics should keep it that way. At its core, it’s a simpler and more lightweight version of 2016’s SL-1200G, with a lower price; rumor has it that the SL-1200GR will cost half as much as its 1200G predecessor (thankfully).
These audiophile earbuds pack considerable innovation: high-quality, durable titanium housings; replaceable silver-plated copper cable; and changeable acoustic filters that let you fine-tune the audio according to your preferences toward bass, treble, or Echobox’s reference standard. Plus, they come with thick memory-foam tips that expand to fill your ear canal when warmed up by your body heat, so they’ll stay in place and more effectively block sound than even the best electronic noise-canceling earbuds. As for the sound quality? It’s sublime. ($400 too steep? The brand also just launched its affordable $100 Traveller earbuds.)
This compact, urban electric runabout has, in Honda’s words, “emotional intelligence.” Probably more so than most of us, actually — it can read the driver’s emotions and recommend music or other mood-enhancing strategies. (Presumably that means that if you get in the car and it starts playing Alice Cooper or Ozzy, you should consult your therapist immediately.) It’s also meant to be part of a larger ride-sharing program, eliminating downtime when you’re not using it yourself, and making YOU money. How’s that for mood enhancement?
Kodak Brings Back Ektachrome Film
Kodak announced that they will be reviving their classic film line, Ektachrome. Production ceased back in 2012, but now the company says they’re reviving it to coincide with the resurgence of analog film. The new 35mm film be available in Q4 of 2017.
HTC Vive Tracker
Virtual Reality fans should be stoked about the Vive Tracker. The small device works with the HTC Vive VR system and can be attached to any accessory — baseball bat, tennis racket, toy gun or swords — to be integrated into the VR experience. So far, HTC says there are only a couple games and experiences that the tracker is compatible with, but expect developers to come up with plenty of new ways to use it by the end of 2017.
LG Hub Robot
Some critics knock voice-activated assistants like Amazon Echo or Google Home for not having faces; without a face, the argument goes, it’s more difficult to connect. That’s why companies like LG are unveiling the next generation of smart home assistants, like the Hub Robot. It uses Amazon Alexa to play music, set timers and do other simple tasks — but because it has a face and spinning axis, the robot can turn to face whoever it is speaking to. The face alternates between friendly expressions and can also display images and video clips. And, when music is played, the face even bobs around. Currently, there’s no release date for the adorable robot.