CES 2018: The Vegas story
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The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2018, the four-day annual technology show in Las Vegas which started on 9 January, showcases some of the most exciting forthcoming technologies, gadgets, concepts and trends across a variety of categories. Among the series of announcements made by companies in the consumer tech, health and automobiles space, we look at the ones we found to be the most exciting.
Sony Life Space LSPX-A1
The LSPX-A1 is part of Sony’s LifeSpace UX concept line-up. It is an ultra short throw 4K projector that will be able to reproduce a 120-inch image just 9.6 inches from the wall. It also has organic glass tube tweeters, a separate subwoofer and three mid-range speakers. There is an artificial marble finish on top, and an aluminum frame with a half-mirror finish. Sony says this will be priced at around $30,000 (around Rs19 lakh). A tentative launch is set for spring.
Panasonic calls the SP-10R, which it has added to the Technics line-up, the “most premium turntable ever”. It has brass, rubber and aluminum platter drives and weighs almost 7kg. The focus is on sound accuracy and reducing noise and distortions that may creep in due to external factors. This is one of the reasons why there is a separate power supply box which is designed to reduce humming sounds and vibrations. The original SP10 was launched in 1969 and was the first direct-drive turntable. This iteration is a high-tech throwback to the classic. Pricing and availability details are awaited.
Sony adopted the OLED displays in their flagship Bravia A1 television last year, and will continue using it for the 2018 flagship model as well. The A8F will be available in 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes. It will run new algorithms to reduce blurring during fast-moving visuals, and the Acoustic Surface speakers (integrated within the display) will support 3.1 channel sound instead of the predecessor’s 2.1 channel sound. The Bravia A8F will support Dolby Vision HDR, run Android TV, and ship with Google Assistant
After acquiring French fitness product maker Withings, Nokia has unveiled a new mattress pad with built-in sensors that will track your sleep, including how long you sleep, how restfully you sleep, and even your snoring. You can access the data the next morning through the Nokia Health Mate app. The Nokia Sleep is priced at $99.95 and will be available early this year.
Volkswagen ID Buzz Concept
Carmaker Volkswagen and chipmaker Nvidia have announced the integration of Nvidia’s Drive IX platform in forthcoming Volkswagen cars. VW’s I.D. Buzz Concept will feature an in-car virtual assistant powered by Nvidia hardware and software. This will let the car recognize its driver and passengers, for example, and personalize the in-car experience—such as language commands, entertainment preferences and seat positioning.
Garmin Forerunner 645 Music
The Garmin Forerunner 645 Music is for those who want to listen to their favourite playlists while running or exercising. You can hook it up to your PC to transfer music (up to 500 songs) or use a streaming service like iHeartRadio on the watch. There is also the Firstbeat training analysis mode with guidance, built-in GPS, and up to seven days of battery life. It goes on sale at $445, significantly more expensive than Fitbit’s $270 Ionic smartwatch.
HTC Vive Pro VR
HTC has given the Vive virtual reality (VR) headset a significant boost in terms of specs—as the “Pro” name suggests. For starters, the Vive Pro’s dual OLED screens now have a combined resolution of 2,880x1,600 pixels, which is 78% more than the predecessor. There are built-in headphones, and the strap mechanism has been redone for improved balance. There are no details on the minimum PC specifications required. This will roll out sometime in the first quarter of 2018, and pricing details are awaited.
Acer Swift 7
Measuring just 8.98mm in thickness, the Swift 7 (SF714-51T) is the world’s thinnest laptop. It is a somewhat surprising that this laptop will run the Intel 7th generation Core processors as the 8th generation has been around for a while now. But it more than makes up for that with the nano-SIM card slot for LTE connectivity on the move. The other specs include 8 GB RAM, a 256 GB solid state drive (SSD) and Windows 10. Prices start at $1,699.
Google Smart Display Platform
Following its recent disagreements with Amazon, Google is working on Smart Displays, which will directly complete with the latter’s Alexa-powered Echo Show. It will be powered by Google Assistant and respond to voice commands. Altec Lansing, Anker, Bang & Olufsen, JBL, LG, Lenovo and Sony are already making Smart Display products.
Late last year, Sony revived the Aibo robodog series—pre-orders for the $1,800 robotic pets are now being shipped to customers. Sony gave Aibo its moment in the spotlight at CES 2018. At present, Aibo can understand a handful of commands in English (it is still largely meant for a Japanese audience), shake hands, and can be asked to sit. It has a quad-core processor, a gamut of motors and gyroscopes, OLED eyes, and a webcam inside its nose. The robodog has multiple touch-sensitive zones for petting, to which it responds with actions like snuggling.