The annual Consumer Electronics Show took place the first week in January, and as always, about 175,000 people made the pilgrimage to Las Vegas to try to take in the 2.23 million square feet of exhibit space and 4,000 exhibitors displaying their products at the show. We divided and conquered, and what follows are the top picks from Techwalla contributors who attended the show. Read on for an insider look at some of the coolest and most desirable devices and tech that you may want to put on your radar for 2017.
1. HiMirror Plus
Smart mirrors aren't really a thing just yet, but the HiMirror Plus--successor to the $189 HiMirror--might actually be a useful skincare tool. HiMirror Plus is a makeup mirror (it's got in-line LEDs that can be set to mimic five different environments) and a picture-taking skincare assessment.
The mirror has a large camera attached to the top of it, and this camera takes a photo of your face every day to analyze your skin's color, quality, and any changes over time. The mirror can see things like wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, and redness; give you an overlay of your "problem" areas; and let you know if your skincare routine is a scam or not (you can also scan skincare products and track what you're using in the mirror's "virtual beauty box"). I can totally see myself using this, if only for the sake of having tons of photos of my face logged for future reference. The HiMirror Plus will be available in January, and will retail for $259. - Sarah Jacobsson Purewal
2. Samsung Q9F LCD UHDTVs
Samsung’s Q9F Series “QLED” sets use new metallic core quantum dot technology that allows for equal passage of the red, green, and blue color primaries through the liquid-crystal pixels in the display.
The end result is images with fully saturated color and an extremely wide viewing angle. I was impressed enough with what I saw from the Q9F Series that I think that the sets will mark a sea change for LCD TV technology when they arrive later this year. No pricing has been announced, but as the company’s flagship TVs, you can count on them being expensive. - Al Griffin
3. Pai Ocean Pets
A great example of the impending augmented reality revolution, Pai is launching Ocean Pets, which lets kids use included molds and their putty to create their own fish for a virtual aquarium. Kids can freeform their creations, too, but they won’t have as many features available in the aquarium.
Once the creature creation gets scanned into the app, kids can care for their Ocean Pets and learn about the ocean and its inhabitants. Coming soon, $30, for ages three and up. - Melissa J. Perenson
4. Play-Doh Touch
Play-Doh is synonymous with with childhood fun of playing with molded putty. The $40 Play-Doh Shape to Life Studio set goes along with the free Play-Doh Touch app. Using the two tools in tandem, kids can create their characters freeform or using including stampers, cutters, and tools.
Using the app, kids can scan their character into the app and then interact it with the character as it comes alive and moves through its digital world. - MP
If you love virtual reality, you’ll love LucidCam. It’s a point-and-shoot VR camera that allows you to create your own VR movies. No more waiting for those pesky studios to create more content. Only the size of a smartphone, it features two cameras that mimic the way we see, filming (or taking stills) in full stereo 3D.
You can view your home VR movies on any device, from an Oculus Rift to an HTC Vive or even something simple like Google Cardboard. LucidCam’s content works anywhere. It will go on sale in April for $599. If you pre-order now you can get it for $399. - David Isaac
Who wouldn’t love a machine that folds your clothes for you? That’s the promise of FoldiMate. All you do is hang your clothes on two hooks. Into the machine they go--and out comes a neat stack at the bottom. It will also de-wrinkle and treat your clothing with fabric softener or fragrance.
The whole thing is very Jetsons-like, and the logical upgrade for your laundry room. The promise of FoldiMate is so exciting that 125,000 people have reserved a unit with a small deposit, even though it only exists in prototype form and won’t be ready until 2018. Foldimate will cost about $700. - DI
7. Vuzix Blade 3000 Smart Sunglasses
The Vuzix Blade 3000 Smart Sunglasses may be the beginning of the end of all of us staring at our smartphones. Basically, it delivers all the features of your smartphone in the shape of normal-looking sunglasses--with the all-important addition of a full-color, see-through interactive display projected in front of your eyes. Follow directions to your destination. View Skype calls. Comparison shop in your favorite store with no one the wiser. You’ll see all of it on a display that uses regular lenses only 2.0mm thick.
Vuzix sees big potential for these augmented reality smart glasses. And while you might be thinking, “hey, wait, these sound like those awful Google Glasses that failed a few years ago,” we just have this to say: Yeah, kind of. Except these are much more refined and less geeky looking. Plus, the world might be ready for these now. Google Glass was just a few years ahead of its time. We just want to get text messages without having to look down. The Vuzix Blade 3000 Smart sunglasses will be available in the Summer of 2017. - DI
8. Project Ariana
Meet Project Ariana, the brainchild of Razer, maker of gaming peripherals. Ariana is a projector that extends the image of your video game until it is cast on your entire wall. It uses information that’s already in the game--except that information is hidden when you look straight ahead in the game and is only seen when you look right or left to the sides.
Now you don’t have to turn to the side in a game. Everything is projected in front of you. Talk about a gaming advantage. The device won a CES award and could be huge in the gaming world. Availability and price has not yet been announced. - DI
9. X-Fi Sonic Carrier
Say hello to Creative’s little friend. The X-Fi Sonic Carrier, which just might be the mother of all sound bars. The sheer size of the thing is monolithic. It literally extends the entire length of a 60-inch screen. A group of us got together for a private demonstration at Creative’s suite at CES to hear the Sonic Carrier for ourselves. The woman running the demonstration said we were the quietest group of Americans she ever met; that’s because we were all checking our body parts to make sure they were still there.
One reviewer called it “hell-shattering.” Creative might consider renaming it “Hell Shatterer.” It contains a startling 17 drivers--11 front and side-firing and 4 up-firing. It delivers 2000 watts of peak power and comes with a 600 watt wireless subwoofer. An astonishing 8 processors run this mammoth sound bar. Thanks to those processors, and Creative’s always excellent software, the Sonic Carrier not only produces awesome sound, it takes crappy sound and makes it awesome. Immersion is what Creative was after. And immersion is what you shall receive. The X-Fi Sonic Carrier will cost $5,800. It has a tentative release date of April. - DI
10. Crazybaby Mars Speaker
Crazybaby's Mars levitating Bluetooth speaker is awesome. I mean, look at it--the thing's literally levitating. But this speaker is also surprisingly practical: The top part (the "craft") that's levitating can be used as a standalone portable Bluetooth speaker. The "craft" is waterproof (IPX7, which means you can submerge it in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes), has six hours of battery life, and weighs 13 ounces.
It's also got magnets (the same magnets that let it hover above the base) inside it, so you can stick it to anything--your fridge, a bike, a metal sheet, whatever. The "craft" also has a medium-high frequency driver inside it, while the base contains a subwoofer--so it's still worth it to use the two parts together. I think this speaker looks and sounds awesome, and it's both a sexy-looking home speaker system and a portable Bluetooth speaker in one. The Mars is available now, and it sells for $299. - SJP
11. LINK AKC Smart Collar
I really want to love all these dog collar gadgets and activity trackers, but the truth is that most of them just aren't that useful, especially if your dogs are indoor layabouts (like mine). But the LINK AKC Smart Collar looks like it might be a game-changer, because it's packed with sensors and handy features.
This curved, lightweight gadget comes with its own premium leather collar (small through XL--still not small enough for toy breeds) and does more than just track your pup's activity level and location. The LINK AKC Smart Collar has some neat features, such as a light and a buzzer that can be activated remotely. The buzzer is particularly cool if you're trying to train your dog in an off-leash environment. The gadget is durable, water-resistant, and will fit on most standard collars if you prefer to use your own. It's got approximately five days of battery life, which is pretty good for something with built-in GPS, and it will start shipping in January for $199 (though a GPS-tracking subscription will cost extra). - SJP
12. Waves Nx
Three-dimensional audio sounds like a gimmick, but it's actually pretty cool: When you turn your head, the sounds stay put, whether you're watching a movie, listening to a live concert, or playing around with VR. But who wants to buy a special pair of headphones just to experience 3D audio? Not me--and not you. That's why the Waves Nx exists.
The Waves Nx is a gadget-and-app combo: The gadget attaches to the top of any pair of headphones (but not earbuds...though they may be working on that), and the app uses the info from the gadget to track your head in space and deliver 3D audio to your ears. And what's even cooler is that you can try out the tech before you make a purchase. You can download a Chrome extension that will use your webcam to track your head (this preview is free for 30 days). The Waves Nx head tracker is available now, and retails for $79. - SJP
13. Omnicharge PRO
Portable batteries are necessary, but they're rarely interesting. Unless they're the ridiculously versatile Omnicharge PRO, an Indiegogo-backed gadget that will charge all (literally all) of your devices. Let's start with the basics: The Omnicharge PRO has a 20,400mAh battery, which is enough battery power, according to an Omnicharge rep, to fully charge your Macbook Pro.
This portable battery pack is ready for every device you can throw at it, too--it's got a ton of different ports, including a standard power socket, two fast-charging USB ports, a barrel port, and a DC input, as well as built-in Qi wireless charging. Oh, and it's really small. Not credit card small, but it weighs about 1.4 pounds and measures five inches across. The Omnicharge PRO will start shipping to non-Indiegogo-backers in February, and will retail for $299. - SJP
14. LG W7 Signature OLED TVs
Clocking in under 3mm thin, the new W7 Signature OLED UHDTVs from LG finally achieve the wallpaper form factor we’ve long expected from OLED.
The sets, which are compatible with both the Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range video formats, attach magnetically to a wall mount plate and come with a separate Dolby Atmos soundbar that contains the TV’s electronic components. A 65-inch version of the W7 will ship in March, followed by a 77-inch version later this year. Pricing has not yet been announced. - AG
15. Sony Bravia A1E OLED TVs
While Sony introducing 4K OLED TVs at CES didn’t come as a surprise—rumors had been swirling for some time that the company would source OLED panels from LG—what did surprise was how good the Bravia A1E looked. The slab-like sets have a stand-less design, with a rear-mounted easel containing the electronics and a built-in subwoofer.
With actuators positioned directly behind the OLED panel, the entire screen vibrates like a speaker cone to emit sound. Picture enhancements are handled by Sony’’s 4K HD1 Processor X1 Extreme, which wrings every last bit of contrast and detail from regular HD and 4K video. Like many other cool new TVs being rolled out at CES, pricing and shipping details weren’t released, but the sets should be available in 2017. - AG
16. TCL P Series LCD TVs
One of the big TV stories at CES is how many new products are equipped to handle the Dolby Vision high dynamic range format. Of course, many of these are expensive, high-end Ultra HDTVs from companies like Sony and LG.
But not all new Dolby Vision-capable TVs are expensive. Case in point TCL’s P Series, which will be sold in 50-, 55-, and 65-inch screen sizes. P Series sets start at $499 for the 50-inch model. Along with Dolby Vision, the TVs feature built-in Roku streaming and 72 “Control Zones” in a full-array LED backlight. Look for the P Series sets to arrive this spring. - AG
17. B&O Play Beoplay M5 Multiroom Wireless Speaker
Bang & Olufsen’s B&O Play division is known for its design-centric, yet good-sounding, audio products. At CES, the company introduced the Beoplay M5, a compact, cylindrical multiroom wireless speaker clad in an attractive dark-gray wool cover (other color options are forthcoming). With five separately powered drivers, including three tweeters encircling its cabinet, the M5 was designed to deliver dynamic 360-degree sound.
With Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect, and Chromecast built-in capability, it’s also designed to accommodate music streamed from almost any source you can think of. The M5 sounded great in the demo I checked out, delivering clear-sounding vocals and impressively full bass. You can buy the Beoplay M5 now for $599. - AG
This gadget has appeared at CES before under a different name, back when it was still under development. This year Activ5 is finally here--almost; it ships in the next month or so.
Currently on pre-order for $100 (the non-pre-order pricing is twice that), Activ5 is a palm-sized device that guides you through over 100 low-impact, isometric exercises that you can do anywhere. It even has guided workouts for strength training and quick daily programs. - MP
Now this is gnarly: Gnarbox is a pocket-sized, $299 computer for editing and backing up video from your phone while on-the-go. This small computer run an Intel quad-core CPU and connects to your iOS or Android phone via Wi-Fi.
With it you can do file transfers and metadata tagging, and you can edit your full 4K video or even RAW images. It has a rechargeable 4000mAh battery and built-in ports and microSD card slot, too. Due out in the next couple of months. - MP
20. Mattel Aristotle
Think of Aristotle as a baby monitor on steroids. Aristotle is a cylindrical, AI-driven speaker and LED light that works with an optional camera, and is targeted completely at those with infants and young children. Driven by Microsoft’s Cortana for cognitive voice technologies and connected to Bing, Aristotle features full COPPA compliance, and keeps many voice interactions local without going to the wider cloud.
For parents, you’ll have access to voice controls for lighting, music, and even tracking and reordering diapers (from the online vendor of your choice). Having an issue and wondering what to do with your infant? Ask and Aristotle can find the answer. When you leave your baby, that’s when the full baby monitor mode kicks in: It can detect and alert you when your child is crying, and even turn on the lights in a calming manner and play music to soothe the baby. As your child ages, Aristotle can answer questions and and read books. Not bad for $299. Due this summer. - MP