The annual CES expo in Las Vegas saw plenty of innovation on the show floor, not least a new selection of Ultra High Definition 4K TVs. Libby Plummer took a trip to Sin City to see what’s hot in tech for 2013
CES 2013 was the biggest in the show’s history, taking up 1.92million square feet of exhibit space, with more than 3,250 exhibitors unveiling around 20,000 products while the show was attended by more than 150,000 visitors.
Among those products launched were some truly impressive examples of technical wizardry.
“Innovation abounded at the 2013 CES and executives from every major industry that touches technology were here this week,” said Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association in a statement made at the end of the January show.
Many of the big launches at this year’s show revolved around the TV market, which has seen plenty of innovation in recent years in the form of HD and smart TV. This time, it was all about OLED and Ultra HighDefinition (Ultra HD).
LG used CES to unveil the US version of its 55-inch 55EA9800 OLED panel which will set US punters back an eye-watering $12,000 (around £7,455). Main rival Samsung also showed off a 55-inch OLED TV in the form of the F9500, while Sony unveiled the world’s first 4K OLED TV, although this 56-inch panel is still just a prototype at this stage. Panasonic also showcased a 56-inch OLED screen.
Another highlight was Samsung’s curved OLED panel which sports a concave screen that has been designed for an immersive, IMAX-style view. Samsung also pushed the envelope with its prototype phone with a flexible OLED screen that rolls up like a bank note.
It’s taken a long time for OLED TVs to become a reality for consumers since they were first showcased some years ago. Meanwhile, Ultra HD has made it to market much quicker.
One of the biggest buzzes at the show was around a host of new Ultra HD, or 4K, products – sporting a 3,840 × 2,160-pixel resolution, which is four times that of 1080p Full HD.
With both LG and Sony already having launched 84-inch Ultra HD TVs in the UK, Samsung decided to go one better (one inch better, to be precise), previewing the 85-inch UE85S9000. Meanwhile, LG unveiled 65- and 55-inch 4K panels to complement its existing 84-inch offering, as did Sony.
Most of the big TV manufacturers were also quietly showing off slicker, tweaked versions of their smart TV offerings, with improved interfaces for their internet TV services.
While most of the 4K news came from the TV sector, Qualcomm unveiled its new Snapdragon 800 Series processor, which will enable 4K recording on smartphones. Showing what the new chip is capable of at the company’s CES keynote speech, Qualcomm CEO Dr Paul Jacobs was joined onstage by Mexican film director Guillermo del Toro, who introduced a clip from his upcoming film Pacific Rim – shot in 4K and played back via a specially made tablet containing the new chipset. It’s expected that we’ll see products using the chip by the end of 2013, including smartphones, tablets and TVs.
CES isn’t traditionally known for big gaming announcements, with most of the key manufacturers usually sticking to the E3 show to unveil their latest consoles. However, the 2013 show saw headline-making reveals from Nvidia and Razer, the latter unveiling the long-awaited Razer Edge, formerly known as ‘Project Fiona’. This portable console consists of a 10.1-inch Windows 8-powered tablet along with a removable gamepad case with control buttons and analogue joysticks (which critics complained was rather unwieldy for a portable product).
Keeping up the gaming theme, the Nvidia Project Shield was more of a surprise announcement. This portable console seems to be a slightly more compelling option that the Razer Edge, thanks to its compact design and the fact that it enables users to play both Android games and PC games (the latter, via streaming).
The other big story at the show was cameras – with some existing models getting significant upgrades plus a couple of new innovations.
Canon introduced its unusual Powershot N which features a square-ish symmetrical design, which is designed for both left- and right-handed users. It does away with the usual shutter button on the right-hand side in favour of a ring around the lens that can be pressed from the top. Time will tell whether the design will be a success, but it’s good so see something different from one of the big brands.
Fujifilm updated two of its existing models in the form of the X20 and X100S. Both sport the distinctive vintage styling of their popular predecessors, with the X20 high-end compact featuring an improved electronic viewfinder along with a new sensor for higher resolution images with less noise. The fixed lens X100S compact also includes a new sensor along with several other small but significant tweaks, including a faster burst mode.
Carrying on the vintage theme, Samsung introduced the retro-styled NX300 – the new flagship of its NX range of compact system cameras. An update to the NX210, the new model has a new sensor, bigger screen and a new hybrid autofocus and once gain features built-in Wi-Fi for uploading photos direct from the camera.
Taking this one step further, Polaroid introduced the first Android-based camera to feature interchangeable lenses. While Polaroid was the first brand to unveil an Android-toting camera at last year’s CES (the SC1630), the camera never made it to the shops in the UK. The iM1836 (which is actually made by Polaroid supplier Vivitar) follows on from the Nikon Coolpix S800c and Samsung Galaxy Camera Android snappers.
Also big news at the show was Sony’s new flagship smartphone – the Xperia Z. Seemingly getting its big mobile news in before the rush of the MWC show in February, Sony impressed the crowds with its new handset which has a huge 5-inch screen, a water resistant chassis and a unique Battery Stamina Mode which turns off everything but the phone’s vital functions whenever the screen is off, in order to save power.
Other highlights from the show included Onkyo’s first foray in headphones, with the introduction of a range of high-end in-ear and over-ear models.
The show also included a small selection of white goods with Samsung’s T9000 Wi-Fi connected smart fridge with 10-inch touchscreen stealing the show. Meanwhile, LG showed off a selection of products including NFC-enables ovens and Haier showcased the largest washing machine in the world.
While some of the concepts we saw at CES will undoubtedly not make it into the shops for quite some time, if at all, they still offer a remarkable insight into what we can expect to see in t
Products to watch
Nvidia Project Shield
This standalone games console features a fold-down 5-inch display and a full manual controller. Not only does enable you to choose from the huge selection of Android games that are available, but it also lets you stream PC games.
Joining the S340B portable wireless speaker, Pure has added two new products to its Jongo multiroom music system, in the form of the powerful T640 speaker and the A140B wireless hi-fi adaptor. The brightly coloured products offer a cheaper alternative to the likes of Sonos.
Sony Xperi Z
Sony’s latest flagship handset sports a huge 5-inch display along with the maker’s brand new Bravia Engine 2, designed for crisper detail. What’s more, it’s water resistant, and a new Battery Stamina Mode conserves power by turning off all non-essential apps when the screen is off.