From dubious-looking electric cars, to the latest in smartphones, wafer-thin TV's and beds that kick you out for snoring, here's everything we spotted on the show floor at CES 2017.
We've spent the last week scouring the halls and show floors of the Consumer Electronics Show in gaudy Las Vegas, and we've found something worth writing home about. A few new smartphones big and small, expensive and inexpensive, and a few world firsts, were on display — and will be coming to Australia.
Razer's insane three monitor laptop
Razer showed off a lot of cool gadgets at CES, but the coolest was definitely its prototype of a gaming laptop with THREE 4K displays. That's right, this beastly laptop has three 17.3-inch displays pushing millions of pixels. It's one of the coolest things we've seen.
Dubbed Project Valerie, the laptop is powered by an Intel Kaby Lake processor and Nvidia's 1080 graphics card. We just saw a prototype, but Razer says the final version will have the two side monitors slide out of the main monitor, for easy storage.
If this thing does come to market — and that's a big if — prepare for it to be expensive. But price, weight and the fact that it will inevitably be hot enough to cook food doesn't even matter. It's a 12K gaming laptop. Hell yeah.
Razer's futuristic Project Ariana
Speaking of Razer, the gaming company's conceptual gaming projector promises to deliver VR-like experience without needing a VR headset.
When pointed at the screen, Project Ariana's depth-sensing cameras can expand the edges of the TV onto the wall, making your game world more immersive. It can also work with the other lighting products in the room to alter colours across devices, so if a character goes into rage mode, not only does the screen go red, all the lights in your setup go red too.
We won't see Project Ariana until at LEAST very late 2017, but if it can hit the market, it could be a cool alternative to VR headsets for gamers that want truly immersive experiences. Unfortunately, my Brooklyn living room isn't big enough for VR, let alone something like this, but I love it anyway.
Super Game Boy is back
The massive success of the NES Classic Edition proves that all of us ageing millennials are obsessed with classic gaming. And what gets more classic than Nintendo's original Game Boy?
The team at Retro-Bit showed off a brand new, souped-up Game Boy that shares the same form-factor as the original, but packs in so much more. It will play original Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges. It also has a 10-hour battery life and a shatter-resistant display.
The best part? This little guy is only $US80 ($109)! We can't wait to get our hands on one and relive playing the original Tetris, Super Mario Land 2 and Link's Awakening.
Press conferences are typically a dull, boring affair filled with speeches. Until Intel took (mostly) everyone into a room at CES 2017 and told them to put on an Oculus Rift headset.
When I was a kid, self-driving cars were the sci-fi future. They were the stuff of Isaac Asimov's Sally and the Johnny Cab from Total Recall. I didn't actually think that they'd ever happen — the concept itself was a long way from reality, a lot more fi than sci. But smarter brains than mine, with the help of some surprisingly old-school tech, have built cars that can drive on everyday roads.
B&O Play is the Danish audio brand's more accessible, younger, funkier sibling, and it has a new wireless speaker to take on Sonos in your home. Design has always been a hallmark of Play and its much more distinguished older brother, and accordingly the new M5 is an utterly beautiful device — probably the most stylish I've ever seen.
It's CES, and every laptop manufacturer is taking the opportunity to refresh its product lines with Intel's latest seventh-gen Kaby Lake CPUs and Nvidia's Pascal GPUs — both of them much more efficient than their predecessors. That combo means gaming laptops that can actually game away from a power point, and Gigabyte's new machines are no different.
Amidst a swathe of competing high-end screens on show at CES this year, LG has another iteration on its flagship OLED TV. The 77-inch OLED TV W, which will be the first released into Australia under a new 'Signature' sub-brand, includes a bundled Dolby Atmos soundbar, supports all of a quickly growing list of HDR standards, and measures just 2.57mm thick.
Nvidia started out as a graphics card company. Nvidia basically invented the performance GPU. But Nvidia does a lot more than desktop graphics these days. VR, AR, mixed reality, self-driving and autonomous vehicles, deep learning neural networks — all these use technology that started out running the first 3D-accelerated PC games 20 years ago.
Step aside, LG. You're not the only player in the game with a perfect-black-level OLED television any more. Sony just announced a new OLED 4K TV at CES, and it ups the ante with a new, more powerful imaging processor and sound that comes from behind the screen rather than below it.
Beds are beds, right?
No. Beds are smart now. The newest in a long line of gadgets that we're not sure necessarily needed to have electronics integrated into them is a bed that can tell exactly how well you're sleeping, and then do a whole bunch of funky shit, including warming your feet, to make your life better.
Not content with making every other technology product under the sun, Samsung now has a gaming laptop in its repertoire. It actually sounds pretty good on paper, too, if you want a powerful 15- or 17-inch machine that'll run double duty for workday tasks and casual PC gaming.
In front of thousands, the pitch sounded good. Bring PC gaming to the hundreds of millions who can't, or haven't experienced it before. It's a sensible, reasonable goal for a publicly listed company like NVIDIA to aim at. And the idea of putting a gaming PC in the cloud has a certain logic to it.
Problem is, we've been here before. It didn't work. And even if the streaming technology was sound, it still wouldn't work for Australians.
The biggest problem with Chromebooks was that they had no apps. Not really, anyway. Sure, there were a few decent ChromeOS apps, but it made no sense that they couldn't run the zillions of apps that Google's own Android mobile OS enjoyed. That problem is finally sorted.
Faraday Future's CES livestream revealed its flagship vehicle at 1pm today, and you can watch it all right here.
Last year the start-up revealed an, er, interesting electric Batmobile concept, this year? On stage issues galore. Ouch.
Samsung had a tough 2016, both in Australia and around the world. Most of that came from its difficult and ongoing Galaxy Note7 recall, but it's also facing renewed competition within the TV market — from LG's OLEDs and LCDs in particular — and across all different kinds of tech. But Samsung is one of the world's largest gadget brands, and it's gearing up for a big year.
Imagine a pair of completely wireless earbuds that can block out the ambient noise of crowds or busy offices or loud restaurants, but that still let you have a perfectly audible — amplified, in fact — conversation with the person in front of you. Think of a hearing aid, but that connects to your phone via Bluetooth, with dynamically adjustable noise cancellation and boosting. Think of Apple's AirPods, but on steroids.
If you're a big-name TV maker, 'LCD' is a dirty word. OLED is a different technology, but in recent generations LCD panels have been rebranded with modern monikers, from LED to ULED to Samsung's own SUHD. Now, Samsung has a new line of TVs it's calling QLED, with a quantum dot LED-backlit LCD panel that promises huge improvements to picture quality.
CES is kicking off with its traditional showing of really fancy TVs. Combining all the good top-end stuff we're already used to like Dolby Vision HDR with new 'nano cell' tech that reportedly improves colour quality and viewing angles, LG's three newest Super UHD panels are the most advanced the company has produced — and promise the best ever picture quality from a LCD.
TVs that seem to disappear
TVs are always a big draw at CES, and this year was no exception. Mercifully, the curved TV gimmick finally looks like it's on its way out.
In the biggest trend to emerge, Sony, LG and Samsung all moved the core components of their flagship TV sets to outside hardware. In the case of Samsung, all of the ports and brains of its new models are housed in an outside box. Sony built the guts for its top TV into a subwoofer that doubles as a TV stand.
But for my money, the most impressive TV was the new W7 from LG. This OLED TV is just 2.5mm thick — literally thinner than my finger. Everything that actually powers the TV is jammed into a futuristic-looking Dolby Atmos soundbar. I want it.
LG also had a prototype OLED TV that is 40 per cent translucent. I'm not sure if I see the use case quite yet, but anything that brings us closer to Minority Report is good with me.
Honda's self-balancing motorcycle
Honda showed off its new Riding Assistant technology that keeps your bike balanced when it's moving at speeds less than 5km/h (like when you're pulling out of the garage or stopping at a traffic light). The tech will even work when the rider isn't on board, meaning you never have to worry about your bike falling over on its side ever again.
This is still a concept, so we might never the tech in actual bikes, but it sure does look cool.
LEGO's new robots
LEGO has had robotic kits for years, but the problem is that the builds always involved a lot of work and some mild coding skills. Granted, it's a nice way to learn something new, but sometimes you just want to quickly build a robot buddy.
With LEGO Boost, the lazy amongst us can finally build robotic toys. Using a companion app, you just drag and drop different actions to control the robot, rather than having to tediously code in commands.
The kit comes with five different projects, including a cat, a robot, a guitar, a bulldozer and a LEGO stacking machine.
Intel's Compute Card is so tiny
A few years ago at CES, Intel introduced its Compute Stick, its tiny-arse computer that fits into something about the size of a Chromecast. Now Intel has something even tinier — and potentially more useful — its new Compute Card.
The size and thickness of a few stacked credit cards, the Compute Card packs in a ton of power into the svelte package. You get a Kaby Lake processor, Wi-Fi, memory and storage. The idea is that you can then insert this card into a dumb monitor or other type of dock, and voila, instant computer system.
Intel is hoping it can get a lot of manufacturers on board to support the Compute Card — think everything from kiosks, smart TVs and smart appliances. For TVs especially, this could provide a smart upgrade path for new kinds of apps and processes. Just swap your old Compute Card out with another.
It will be a while before this hits the market. Intel's first partnership is with the Foxconn-owned Sharp, for giant displays at shopping centres and hotels. But maybe if we're lucky, one day we'll be able to just carry our computers with us in our wallets.
Sony's crazy thin E Ink watch
The concept, which was shown under glass, can change design and colour — meaning you can switch up your fashion statement depending on what you're wearing or your mood. Strikingly, the E Ink display is thinner than a credit card.
If this thing ever does come to market, it might be Japanese only — but it's such a cool idea, we can't help but hope the tech makes its way into a proper product eventually.