Last week, we gave 10 Best of CES awards, and the physical trophies have already been delivered, but as a last look back on CES 2014, here’s the list for the record, and why we like those products or technologies. Here they are, in no particular order and see you next year for another crazy week in Las Vegas. Drop a comment to let us know what your favorite CES product was!
1/ Intel Edison
Intel wants to enter the wearable tech market and their Edison SD-Card sized computer may just get them there much faster. We have seen some pretty small computers in the past, some as small as a shirt button, but Intel’s is basically a PC shrunk into the size of a memory card. The choice for using the SD card format is astute because device makers can already have access to a wealth of options to build their hardware. While the card uses the SD Card physical format, it is not limited at all by the SD protocol, so developers are free to build any system they want. We can’t wait to see the first prototypes.
2/ Toyota FCV Hydrogen Car
We love Hybrid cars, but we also have to recognize that they were always supposed to be a step-gap measure before something more sustainable and convenient was introduced. For a long time, Hydrogen has been a possible solution, but many challenges remain. With the Toyota FCV Hydrogen car, Toyota could very well popularize Hydrogen, just like they did with Hybrid and Electric cars. When the company talked about those cars in the 80s many people in the industry were laughing – not so much today. With their track record of long term vision and innovation, we’re hopeful that Toyota can get Hydrogen cars to the next level. The FCV may be the missing link!
3/ Audi Virtual Cockpit
Ever since I saw the virtual dashboard of the Nissan GTR, I knew that this was the future. Yet it took many years for this to become what Audi showed at CES: a great-looking Virtual Cockpit powered by a powerful processor. This enables super-fast 60FPS graphics and virtual instruments that can be customized to match the car interior. One of the best feature of this new Audi Virtual Cockpit is the huge improvement in data entry. Now you don’t need to turn the dial to enter letters in the system: you can draw the letters with your fingers directly on the dial, thanks to a touch-sensitive surface. This dramatically improves data entry and leads to a much smoother experience. Now we just want the rest of the car industry to follow Audi’s lead.
4/ Samsung Bendable TV
There is no question that CES is truly where the best Televisions are being demonstrated. The progress in display quality over the past 20 years has been breathtaking, and this is a huge deal because the largest amount of information that we perceive is visual. Although the competition was ferocious, we named the Samsung Bendable TV as one of the Best of CES because it’s great to see designs that get out of the comfort zone of thin and frameless. With the bendable TV, you choose of you want a large experience or an immersive experience. Obviously, the image quality is sublime as well – but that was expected.
5/ Lenovo X1 Carbon 2014
The Lenovo X1 Carbon series was already a hit, but the 2014 version brings upgrades like an Intel Haswell processor (great for battery life), a hiDPI IPS touch display (we recommend this option) and an adaptive keyboard row made of virtual buttons that makes things more readable and easier to use. At 2.94lbs, the X1 is the lightest 14” that we have seen to date, and at 0.7” it is quite thin as well. Now, you can probably find slightly thinner laptops, but keep in mind that the new X1 Carbon has been designed for getting work done, which means that it has a full-size Ethernet and HDMI ports which eliminate the need for dongles. We have seen quite a few people kicking themselves for not having an Ethernet dongle in the CES 2014 press room, so this can be a real problem. Finally, the battery can be charged from zero to 80% in less than one hour – awesome, isn’t it?
6/ Sony FDR-AX100 4K Camcorder
Sony is the one company that knows 4K from end-to-end. Movies are produced and edited on many of its professional products, and their TVs and AV products are tuned to play that content back the way it’s supposed to be. But Sony also believes that user content is key to a healthy 4K industry. To that end, their engineers have built a semi-pro 4K camera that effectively fits in the palm of your hands, but yet, delivers an excellent image quality. It was tough for them to pack the kind of processing power needed to compress 4K images on the fly, but the final product looks amazingly small and portable.
7/ NVIDIA Tegra K1 Processor
Mobile processors have reached an inflexion point: with K1, this is the first time that a processor designed to run in tablets and smartphones has a real graphics feature-parity with the most powerful PCs. In fact, Tegra K1 uses the same building blocks used to create computing monsters like the GeForce Titan, or GPU-driven supercomputers. On one fell swoop, NVIDIA has leapfrogged every single other mobile graphics vendors, and they even have to add support for this into the Android OS, because the graphics API (OpenGL ES 3.0) isn’t ready for this level of features yet. In the meantime, Tegra K1 devices are expected to run with OpenGL 4.4, which is the equivalent of what PC and Mac use. We’re excited by this discontinuity and we are looking forward to see higher quality applications, including games, but also automotive apps, arrive in the hands of consumers.
8/ LG WebOS for Televisions
It took a while for the industry to realize that TVs were never going to be “computers” with which you interact with keyboards and mice. However, the quest to make TV simple again has been a long and treacherous road. In the past two years, LG has transformed itself from a pure hardware company to one that is much more sensitive to software and design. With the acquisition of Web OS from HP, LG now has the (non-Android) software foundation it needs to build a great TV interface. By treating all content sources in a homogenous way, LG makes TV easier and makes a big step towards making TV simple again. This is not the end of the road, but this so the most innovative TV interface of CES 2014.
9/ Bang and Olufsen Beosound Essence Sound System
At Ubergizmo, we like to reward design excellence alongside technological innovations. When it comes to Bang and Olufsen, unique and elegant design is the most prominent feature the company has been delivering to the consumer electronics industry. Before Apple made it an iconic user interface component of the iPod, the wheel was a key element of many B&O products for decades, so, at CES 2014, I was pleased to see that the Danish company reinvented the wheel in its most minimal form as the best way to interact with music.
Beosound Essence combines two components: the Beosound Essence Remote and a white box full of connectors that you have to hide. The box provides for AirPlay streaming, DLNA streaming, Spotify Connect, QPlay and thousands of global internet radio stations and you manage everything from the small aluminum wheel remote.
Beosound Essence includes a wall-mounted BeoSound Essence Remote and a box costs $995, each additional wall-mounted or table top BeoSound Essence Remote cost $200. We can debate over the insanely high price tag, however, “when you love you do not count the cost”!
10/ Basis Carbon Steel Edition with Advanced Sleep Analysis
We have seen tons of smart watches at CES, and a few of them started to look like real watches instead of cheap pieces of plastic. Pebble Steel, the new version of the utterly famous pebble smartwatch got tons of awards by other publications. And we really love the new Pebble design, which is elegant and make the device look like a real watch that men would like to wear.
However we feel that Basis came at CES with an equally elegant brand new product design and with an innovative new feature that is hard to deliver: Advanced Sleep Analysis, that automatically monitor people’s sleep quality. We have not tried the Basis smartwatch yet, so we have no idea how accurate the heart rate monitor is. The HR is one of the key element that collects the necessary data to automatically detect when the user is asleep and to provide a good sleep analysis.
The new Basis Carbon Steel Edition is available now for $199 on the Basis website and the Advanced Sleep Analysis feature will be available in the on January 21 in the version 2.0 of the Basis app for iOS, Android and Web.