CES 2019 Is Here, And Your Tech Future Has Come Along For The (Driverless) Ride
CES (International Consumer Electronics Show) has come a long way since its 1967 launch in New York. Today, it is considered one of the biggest trade shows in the US, and continues to grow by the year. The event is not open to the public, but attracts tech industry professionals, as well as big names in sports, movies, music, television and more, with Pharrell Williams having already given a talk at a Sony event on the opening day.
But really, it's all about the gadgets, and here are some of the best launches on show in Las Vegas so far this year.
ROYOLE FLEXPAI FOLDING PHONE
Royole beat Samsung to the punch in announcing the first folding phone at the start of November 2018. Now it has been using CES to show-off the tech that goes into the FlexPai. Its touchscreen is 7.8-inches, it has the newest Snapdragon 855 chip inside and is set to have 128GB or 256GB of storage. However, the device is fairly chunky when folded, and weighs 320g. There's no release date yet but it is available to developers in the US – it costs $1,300.
HTC VIVE PRO EYE & VIVE COSMOS
HTC used its CES 2019 press conference to unveil two new VR headsets. First comes the Vive Pro Eye, an upgraded version of its top-of-the-range VR headset which adds eye-tracking – a first for any VR headset. A technique called "foveated rendering" will allow games and apps to render fewer pixels in areas of the display you aren't looking at, improving performance. It's due out in the second quarter of 2019.
The Vive Cosmos (pictured above) is a totally new product, which will eliminate the need for external sensors – one of the main complaints against fully-featured VR headsets. Intruigingly, HTC suggests the headset could be powered by either PCs or smartphones, placing it somewhere between the standard Vive and mobile VR headsets like the Oculus Go.
Photo credit: LG
LG SIGNATURE OLED TV R
Rumours were strong that we would get a rollable TV at this year’s CES, and LG has delivered with its new 65-inch Signature OLED TV R where the screen can rise and roll-up at the touch of a button. LG is touting three different viewing options – Full View, Line View and Zero View. Full View being, er, full view. Line View sees the TV R partially unrolled for specific apps such as Clock to check the time and weather, while Zero View hides the screen so the system can be used purely as a music player. Amazon Alexa integration is added, alongside support for Apple AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.
SAMSUNG 75-INCH MICROLED 4K TV
Samsung unveiled an enormous MicroLED TV called The Wall at last year’s CES. Now it's back with a 75-inch 4K version you can get in your home (if you have a very large house). MicroLED aims to combine the best of Samsung's proprietary QLED tech with OLED, making it the new benchmark for cutting-edge television sets. No backlight is required, so MicroLED displays can be super thin. MicroLED should deliver perfect blacks, peerless brightness as well as an incredibly wide HDR colour palette, all with a significantly longer lifespan than OLEDs. No release details or pricing has been announced, but rest assured it will be very pricey.
SONY PS-LX310BT WIRELESS TURNTABLE
Vinyl's revival is showing no signs of stopping – and now it's going wireless. Bluetooth has been added to the PS-LX310BT turntable allowing its owners to stream music to wireless speakers. (Although it is still possible to connect to wired stereo speakers and USB output). There's also an automatic tone arm that returns to the resting position once a record has finished playing and a built-in phono pre-amp.
FOLDIMATE LAUNDRY-FOLDING MACHINE
Foldimate was at CES in 2018 battling it out with Laundroid to be the AI laundry-folding machine of the show. Neither machine worked in reality. But now Foldimate is back (unlike Laundroid) with a fully working prototype. Feed in a T-shirt to the machine and a neatly folded garment is spat out at the bottom in about five seconds. Foldimate claims its device can fold an entire load of laundry in five minutes, including shirts, trousers and towels. It won’t be able to fold small clothes or large items such as baby clothes or bed linen. Foldimate’s availability is yet to be confirmed, but the company hopes to keep the machine cost to under $1,000.
Hot on the heels of Nvidia’s announcement of its GeForce RTX 20-series graphics cards, Samsung’s Odyssey gaming laptop for 2019 is its first to feature the new RTX 2080. What does that mean? Well, it powers real-time ray tracing for improved in-game lighting for titles like Battlefield V. The 15.6-inch laptop has a 1080p display, running at 144Hz, so it won’t be for anyone looking for 4K but there’s tons of ports (three USB 3.0, USB-C, Ethernet and HDMI) plus a central hinge to keep things cool.
ITUNES ON SAMSUNG TELEVISIONS
In a move that clearly marks Apple's move towards boosting its services offering now phone sales are static, Samsung has announced Apple will allow its iTunes service to work on its televisions. This is a shock exception to the iPhone maker’s policy of not putting its software on other companies’ products, and could also finally be a tacit admission that the Apple TV box has not been the success the company hoped. Now, Samsung TV owners can watch iTunes content as well as the usual streaming services all from the internal UI.
BREADBOT BY WILKINSON BAKING COMPANY
You might struggle to fit this bread machine on your kitchen counter, but if you need to churn out one loaf every six minutes, BreadBot has got you covered. Designed for use in supermarkets by Wilkinson Baking Company, the machine is intended to cut down the time supermarket employees spend baking bread and give customers a visual assurance that they're buying a freshly baked loaf. A largely automatic machine, BreadBot can be programmed so it only bakes loafs when they're needed, potentially cutting down on wastage in the food industry.
ASUS ROG MOTHERSHIP
Asus has launched what is effectively a 17-inch Surface Pro aimed straight at gamers. The ROG Mothership (GZ700) is a gaming laptop with a kickstand and detachable folding keyboard. The Mothership is far bigger than a Surface, of course. The sizeable 17.3-inch 1080p display has a 144Hz refresh rate, 3ms response time and Nvidia’s G-Sync. Power comes courtesy of the mobile version of Nvidia’s RTX 2080 GPU and Intel’s Core i9-8950HK processor, both overclocked, and there is up to 64GB of DDR4 RAM. Windows' Hello facial recognition from the built-in webcam is even supported. That detachable keyboard is neat: it folds in half vertically to take up less desk space. It'll be available during the first quarter of this year.
LG CINEBEAM LASER 4K
LG has given its 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector a welcome design tweak for 2019. Place the more compact CineBeam Laser 4K two inches from the wall for a 90-inch diagonal picture, seven inches away for 120-inch images at 2,500 lumens. That’s slightly smaller than last year’s, but still impressive for the space saving. Controls come courtesy of a gesture-controlled Magic Remote and ThinQ voice commands. There's no price or release date yet.
LG CLOI SUITBOT
Designed to power-up users’ legs, LG and SG Robotics’ exoskeleton for industry takes the physical strain off the wearer while standing, walking and working, and could reduce workplace injuries. New for CES, the SuitBot has an adjustable dual-strap mechanism and a one-piece support per leg. Remember the PorterBot and ServeBot? LG says its line of connected service robots is close to being commercialised.
WITHINGS MOVE ECG
Following the Apple Watch Series 4's lead, Withings’ latest discreet, hybrid smartwatch adds ECG (electrocardiogram) tech. Pitched at atrial fibrillation sufferers, this allows the wearer to take an on-the-spot reading by placing two fingers on the watch case and share with doctors. Due to go on sale in the spring, the Move ECG still needs to clear the FDA. Rounding things out, there’s activity, swim and stair tracking, plus a battery life of up to 12 months.
MATRIX POWERWATCH 2
No-charge smartwatch? Yes please. The second edition PowerWatch combines solar and thermoelectric charging - it’s powered in part by body heat – while improving on last year’s monochrome screen with a 1.2-inch LCD. The focus is on GPS, heart rate, fitness and a rugged build so no third party apps or calls here. Starting at $199 on Indiegogo (RRP $499), shipping is set for June 2019.
Photo credit: Panasonic
PANASONIC GZ2000 TV
Panasonic’s new flagship 4K OLED TV spares no picture quality specs. Tuned by Hollywood colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld, it’s the first TV to support both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision HDR plus it adds HLG Photo for still images shot, for instance, on its new full-frame mirrorless cameras. Also in the mix, there’s Dolby Atmos support plus voice controls via Alexa and Google Assistant.
SONY WH-1000XM3 NOW WITH ALEXA
Already WIRED's favourite pair of wireless headphones, Sony has added Amazon Alexa to its WH-1000XM3 noise-cancelling cans. The headphones already support Google Assistant, but the new update will mean that you can ask Amazon's virtual assistant to play music and answer search queries by pressing a button on the side of the headphones. Best of all, you don't have to buy a whole new pair of headphones as the update will be available through Sony's Headphone Connect App.