The Best Of CES
A high-tech cascade hit Las Vegas Jan. 8--11 at the annual International Consumer Electronics Show. We were on hand to spot the hottest trends and the coolest new gadgets.
Lenovo Ideacentre Horizon Tabletop PC
Windows 8 popped up in a range of devices, from compelling (Razer Edge, next page) to confounding (Toshiba’s 21:9 ultrawide Ultrabook). This tablet/tabletop-PC hybrid leans toward the former: It’s a PC with a 27-inch display that cleverly converts to a touchscreen multimedia and family game center when laid flat. (Summer; price TBA)
Panasonic RP-BTGS10 Bone Conduction Headphones
These ingenious wireless headphones rest on bones by your ears and conduct audio by vibration instead of amplification, so you can still hear ambient noise. Perfect for athletes, but also for some people who are hearing impaired. (Late summer; $199.99)
With smartphones now rivaling point-and-shoot cameras for quality, this crafty add-on for the iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S III provides a handy grip with shutter, zoom, and shooting-mode buttons. (February; $99)
Dish Hopper with Sling
Dish got flak last year for its ad-skipping Auto Hop, and continues to court controversy. Its new Hopper DVR with integrated Sling (for watching TV remotely on Internet-connected devices) was all the buzz, mostly due to Hopper Transfers, a sure-to-be-hot-button feature that crunches and loads video to your iPad. (Late January; $449)
Huawei Ascend Mate
Part of the growing push by Chinese electronics brands to break into the U.S. market, Ascend Mate also epitomizes the ongoing phablet craze. Its 6.1-inch, 1080p display — and record-breaking 48-hour battery life — simply dwarfs all others. (Release date and price TBA)
Samsung Real KN55F9500 Multi-View TV
The big stories in TV land were Ultra HD (see below) and OLED HDTVs, which produce rich colors and inky blacks. This OLED model amazed with its ability to display two HD videos in 3-D simultaneously to viewers wearing glasses with built-in earbuds. (Release date and price TBA)
An audience favorite and critical hit, this muscle-bound Windows 8 tablet brings high-end PC gaming to a lightweight touchscreen. It also pops into an optional keyboard or a slick joystick frame — and even works with Xbox and other console controllers. (First quarter; from $999)
Kickstarter-originated projects were everywhere this year (Snappgrip was one), as was wearable technology like watches and body monitors. The long-awaited Pebble combines both trends into one pretty package: A programmable smart watch with a customizable face, it displays calls, texts, and emails. (Jan. 23; $149)
Sony SRS-BTX500 Speaker
Seen the Samsung Galaxy S III ads that tout the phones’ ability to connect with other devices by tapping them together? That technology is called near field communication (NFC), and it showed up in a host of gear, especially from Sony. Tap your smartphone on this powerful portable speaker to pump your tunes wherever you roam. (March; $299)
What’s up with Ultra HD?
Here’s how clear the future might look: At 2160p, Ultra HD has four times the resolution of regular HDTV. Though multiple companies showed off Ultra HD sets, including Sony and Toshiba, don’t expect to buy one for a few years. Today’s five-figure prices will certainly drop, but most areas still lack the bandwidth needed to deliver video that big.