What Happens in Vegas - CES 2014 Roundup
What Happens in Vegas - CES 2014 Roundup
Highlights of the 2014 International CES
After an avalanche of announcements this week, the 2014 International CES comes to a close today, January 10 (U.S. time, that is). There are people who question whether this yearly Las Vegas-based tech show still matters, as blockbusters are getting increasingly few and far between, not to mention that there will always be hyped-up products that for whatever reasons never made it to the market in the end. Or the fact that big boys like Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook have no real presence at the show, as they prefer to do their own things at their own schedules. For us, we remain optimistic. After all, this is still the biggest show in the tech calendar, and surely, with more than 3,200 exhibitors across 1.92 million net square feet of show floor (this is a record, according to the Consumer Electronics Association), there has to be some innovations going on, right? And thankfully, there are, especially in the fields of mobile, wearable tech, and of course, television.
If you’ve missed any of our coverage (both here and on our Facebook pages: 1, 2), don’t worry, we’ve got you covered right here as we recap the latest tech trends and best new products. And if that's not enough, scroll to the bottom for a list of all CES-related news and articles.
'Bigger and thinner' was the trend for CES 2013, but at CES 2014, "bigger" is now the norm. One of the largest mobile devices we saw at CES 2014 is the Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G, which comes with modest upgrades such as LTE CAT 4 support and a new custom interface. Not wanting to be left out of the phablet space, Lenovo unveiled the 5.5-inch Vibe Z, which is also the company's first LTE phone. Home town rival ZTE is also out in full force, and its Grand S II caught our eye with its voice control technology.
Adopting a market strategy similar to Samsung, ASUS flooded the event floor with five new mobile devices this year. The 5-inch PadFone X can dock into a 9-inch tablet and is exclusive to U.S. telco AT&T. The Taiwanese company also introduced a new line of smartphones under the ZenFone brand, the ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5, and ZenFone 6. There was even time for a new member in the PadFone family, the 4-inch PadFone Mini, which docks into a 7-inch tablet. ASUS' motive for doing so is clear - it wants a presence in every market segment.
Traditional heavyweights also have something to show for. Sony took the wraps off its heavily rumored Xperia Z1 Compact, which is now already widely agreed to be the world's best premium compact Android smartphone. And Samsung, the world's biggest phone manufacturer may soon become the world's biggest tablet maker as it unleashed four new Galaxy 'pro' tablets, two of which have a 12.2-inch display. All four tablets run on Android 4.4 KitKat, and sport a 2,560 x 1,600-pixel display.
And how can we forget NVIDIA and its Tegra K1 mobile processor. Available in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions (surprise!), the K1 has a 192-core graphics engine, which NVIDIA claims brings true console-level gaming and GPGPU to mobile devices.
Last year, it was about 4K UHD and OLED. This year, it’s again about 4K and OLED (from the usual suspects like LG, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba), just that they’re now wider and bigger, and with more twists, literally. The two TVs (okay, prototypes) that went head on with each other are Samsung’s bendable 4K LED-based LCD TV and LG’s 77-inch bendable 4K OLED TV. We say ‘bendable’ because with a press of a button, both can transform from a curved TV to a flat TV.
Besides all the giant, high-res TVs, a few other things that stood out are Sharp’s subpixel-overdosed, but 4K-friendly Aquos Quattron+ 1080p LED TVs, and on the smart TV UI front, LG’s WebOS smart TVs, Panasonic’s intention to bring Firefox OS to their smart TVs, and Philips’ Android-based TVs.
And of course, Polaroid and Vizio’s wallet-friendly 4K TVs offer us a glimmer of hope that we can finally afford one next Christmas.
AMD launched the Kaveri APU that is the successor to their Trinity and Richland desktop APUs. The latest Kaveri APU is a step closer to the true vision of AMD's initiative, the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA). The main thing that distinguishes the Kaveri APU is that both CPU and GPU cores are considered compute cores. Hence, either is able to execute a process, but only if its instructions are compatible with the compute cores. At the same time, both cores share system resources like system memory that leads to lower power requirements. Kaveri-powered systems were also spotted on the show floor.
For portable storage solutions, Seagate announced its first 4TB hard disk drive with USB 3.0 connectivity. Since the drive is fully USB powered, there isn't a need to lug a power brick around. There were also announcements of 4K UHD, G-Sync, and even curved LCD PC monitors.
Literally thinking out-of-the-box, Razer has its Project Christine, a concept PC housing which is truly modular. Different PC components can be plugged in and will automatically sync with the rest of the system. How cool is that!
This time round, we witnessed powerful notebooks got thinner (e.g. Aorus X7 dual-GPU gaming notebook), already small notebooks got even smaller (e.g. Sony Vaio Fit 11A), already light notebooks got lighter (e.g. the new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon), notebooks with a new paint job (e.g. Acer Chromebook), and of course, notebooks that can easily turn into a tablet or vice versa (e.g. ASUS Transformer Book Duet, Lenovo Miix 2 series of dockable tablets) thanks to their hybrid form factor.
What’s more interesting however, is how frequently Google is popping up in the products offered by manufacturers. Toshiba has just joined the Chromebook movement, making it the fourth major manufacturer to offer devices that run Google's Chrome OS. Android also made it onto the ASUS Transformer Book Duet as one of the device's two OSes.
Also, notebook vendors seem to have caught the 4K UHD bug too, as evidenced by Toshiba's pair of 4K UHD laptops, the Tecra W50 and Satellite P50t.
Though majority of them are fitness trackers (who doesn't want to live healthier?) and smart watches (who doesn't want to be constantly reminded that there's a missed call?), there’s also a fair share of wearable cameras and glasses/displays.
Thanks to mobile and wearable tech, CES is exciting again.
For cameras at CES 2014, it’s business as usual. There wasn’t any ground-breaking news in the digital imaging segment though Nikon did release some information about the D4S, which is currently under development. The D3300 was also unveiled.
Many camera manufacturers announced compact cameras with longer zooms and Wi-Fi functionality, like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60, in a response to the increasing threat from smartphones. Samsung has even announced a dual-grip 60x optical zoom bridge camera that looks like a DSLR. There were some rugged cameras too, such as the Fujifilm FinePix S1, which the company claims to be the world's first rugged superzoom. This camera has a 50x zoom lens, and is dustproof, freezeproof, and splashproof.
And oh, did Sony just ditch the NEX brand for its compact mirrorless cameras?
On the camcorder front, we've some new Sony Handycams (including an Action Cam and one that does 4K), a pair of rugged camcorders from JVC, a few Legrias from Canon, and a bunch from Panasonic.
While CES has not traditionally been a platform for gaming, for the last few shows, we did notice an increase in focus. And at CES 2014, we saw gaming came out and made its mark. The usual suspects such as Roccat, TT eSports, Mad Catz, and EVGA came forth with a plethora of new gaming peripherals. The future holds a slew of gaming mice, headsets, and keyboards targeted at the needs of the gamer. There were also a number of slick PC cases unveiled by In Win.
Virtual reality gaming also took some significant steps forward towards fruition. Oculus Rift, which has been in development for years, released a new prototype in the form of Crystal Cove. The new headset comes with an OLED display that's intended to deal with motion blur. If that isn’t virtual enough, the Virtuix Omni was also showcased at CES 2014. This is a full immersion virtual reality machine that not only gives you a 360-degree view, but also uses your body movements to control your in-game character.
Finally, the biggest gaming news came from perhaps the shortest press conference at CES 2014. Valve unveiled a total of 13 partners that have teamed up with them to release a barrage of Steam Machines. The Steam Machines are an effort by Valve to put a console spin on PC gaming.
Too short; not enough? Then scroll down for a list of everything we've covered at CES 2014.
CES 2014 News & Articles