Top 10 Tech from CES 2020
The coolest stuff from the Consumer Electronics Show
New Year’s Day may be January 1, but the techie new year doesn’t officially start until later in January at the world’s largest Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This year’s show did not disappoint in revelations that will keep us buzzing the rest of the year.
Included are concepts and actual products available now—smart home gadgets, wonderful wearables, new tech headphones, impressive TVs, computers, gaming, cameras, environmentally friendly cars and more. What’s not included is anything from Apple, since the company split off years ago to reveal its products at its own shows. However, Apple did make an appearance at the 2020 CES, participating in a security roundtable.
Here is a rundown of some of the best new products revealed at 2020 CES.
Best auto tech: Fisker Ocean SUV
Electric vehicles to date have not typically been deemed luxurious or spacious, until now. Fisker, an automaker based in California, seeks to change that with the Fisker Ocean. This full-size SUV is also an EV and is being hailed as the world’s most sustainable vehicle.
Inside, materials made from recycled, abandoned fishing nets and plastics from the ocean are being used in the environmentally-conscious interior. A state-of-the-art heads-up display integrated into the windshield will be complemented by a large 16-inch center touch screen and a 9.8-inch cluster screen.
In true California style, 9 windows/panels roll or slide away to open the entire cabin with one touch—creating an open-air feeling, while still maintaining a full roll cage safety structure around the passengers. There is also 25 square feet of cargo space in the trunk and other thoughtful storage nooks, like purse storage under the front console below the inductive charging pad for two cell phones.
The Ocean will have an electric vehicle range of approximately 250 to 300 miles. An optional full-length solar roof adds the possibility of more than 1,000 free miles a year. Available with 4-wheel drive and high-performance dual motors, it’s meant for a variety of driving situations, without sacrificing comfort.
The in-house lab at Fisker is also working on new electrification technology for future models, and has more than 10 patents filed on solid state battery technology.
This is the company to watch for revolutionizing the automotive industry for our future driving climate. For now, you can reserve your Fisker Ocean, with scheduled delivery of 2022, for a deposit of $250. Purchase from $37,499 ($29,999 with the U.S. federal tax credit if applicable). A Lease option is also available.
Best camera: Autel Evo II 8K, 48MP drone
CES always has cool camera tech, but few entries were as drool worthy as the Autel Evo II—a collapsible camera drone, capable of 8K video and 48-megapixel stills. An auto setting lets the drone manage itself, with 12 navigation sensors to avoid obstacles. The drone maintains an impressive 40-minute flight time and weighs in at less than 2.5lbs. There is 8GB of internal storage and an SD card slot. The controller has a built-in display.
Autel revealed two advanced models. The Autel Evo II Pro—which boasts a larger 1-inch sensor actually reduces resolution to 6K video shooting and 20 megapixel stills, but provides better overall image quality due to the larger sensor as well as improved lowlight capability, HDR video shooting and an adjustable aperture.
The company is also producing a model with a thermal imaging camera that can be added to the Autel Evo II, alongside the standard 8K 48 megapixel camera.
The Evo II is on pre-order for $1,495 and the Pro version is $1,795 through numerous big box retailers and specialty drone websites. Contact the company for information on the thermal imaging option.
Best soundbar: TCL Alto 9+
There are plenty of great soundbars on the market. However, not only does the TCL Alto 9+ have superior sound, it makes great listening a snap if you have a Roku TV.
What makes the sound so great is a combination of Ray-Danz—a unique audio dispersion method that uses two side-firing speakers and an array of reflectors to bend the sound around the room, with a third, front-firing speaker delivering accurate voice positioning. Add to that Dolby Atmos for depth on the horizontal and vertical planes, plus a wireless subwoofer to round out an amazing sound package.
But what I predict will really make the TCL Alto 9+ popular is the ease of adding it to the Roku TV menu, and controlling the soundbar from existing Roku remotes. The easy setup and sound quality was demoed at CES, and has me ready to turn in my Bose system. Those with a non-Roku TV can still use the soundbar with the included stand-alone remote.
When available, the TCL Alto 9+ is rumored to retail for around $400. Product information is not yet posted on the TCL website.
Best speaker: Belkin Soundform Elite Speaker
Speaking of sound, there is finally a compact speaker capable of an impressive audio experience, while cradling and charging your wireless device. The Soundform Elite from Belkin also allows you to play and control your music using voice commands through Google Assistant. You can talk to the speaker to find answers on Google Search, manage everyday tasks, and easily control smart devices around your home.
But with a speaker, sound is paramount. A partnership with Devialet, one of the world’s most innovative companies in sound technology, delivers full-resonant bass and crystal-clear mixes. Vibration-cancelling technology not only adds to sound quality, it also ensures uninterrupted device charging.
You can create a whole home system by either pairing with additional Soundform Elite speakers or any Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker.
Best headphones: Technics EAH-AZ70W True Wireless
They are not the first, but Technics EAH-AZ70W True Wireless headphones might be the new one to beat in the category. Not only do the compact in-ear headphones have state-of-the-art noise cancellation, there is a true focus on sound quality. The audiophile innovations are rumored to be drawing consumer attention away from the Sony WF-1000XM3 and Apple AirPods Pro.
Technics was able to pack a lot of features into a rounded design. While not tiny, they were able to keep the headphones lightweight. Molded earpieces offer a snug fit and good insulation- critical for effective noise cancelling. While not advertised as a sports model, they are splash proof with a rating of IPX4, so no worries about biking to work or wearing outside on a drizzly day.
Innovative sound is achieved by a new large diameter 10-millimeter driver that uses a graphene-coated hard plastic diaphragm in conjunction with an airflow optimized acoustic control chamber. This creates treble detail and enhanced bass response for excellent overall sound.
The Technics EAH-AZ70W boasts Dual Hybrid Noise Cancelling. To achieve this, FeedForward Noise Cancelling (FF-NC) is used to address exterior noise while Feedback Noise Cancelling (FB-NC) cancels noise from inside the ear. Technics added some analogue and digital processing which further reduces noise generated both inside and outside the ear.
Three onboard microphone systems increase call quality and sharpen voice transmission while suppressing ambient noise. There is also an ambient sound mode, to momentarily minimize playback volume to hear what’s going on around you, as well as noise cancelling controls, which you can switch back and forth from with a simple tap. Antennas are integrated in both left and right units, creating robust Bluetooth connectivity.
The only downside I could find is the battery life—six hours when showcased at CES—while using noise cancelling. However, this is apparently something engineers are working on before release, so check the stats before buying.
Best TV: Samsung Q950TS 8K QLED TV
There’s a lot to like about Samsung’s latest flagship QLED Q950TS. It’s an 8K QLED with a vastly improved picture, high peak brightness, great contrast and good color saturation. The bezel is nearly invisible. Screen sizes range between 55 and 98 inches, and are priced up to $60,000 for the largest model (I just won’t eat this year).
The innovative speaker system really stands out- with side, top and back firing speakers- a big upgrade compared to the 10W down-firing speakers on other flagship TVs. Samsung claims the speakers comprise a basic 5.1 surround system, which can be combined with a soundbar for an immersive experience.
However, according to CNET.com, there’s virtually no 8K movies or TV shows to watch on an 8K TV, and if there were, one would need a 5G connection to receive the programming. So, while these displays are amazing to view at the trade shows, they are not practical for most consumer use for now.
Best laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
We’ve got foldable screen phones, and now Lenovo is kicking off the first foldable PC with an OLED display. The innovative computer maker is hoping to bridge the gap between tablets and laptops with a portable device designed for productivity.
The laptop is built from a combination of lightweight alloys and carbon fiber, covered in a leather folio cover. Unfolded, the device has a 13.3-inch display. Folded, the width is cut in half and X1 looks like a fancy leather notebook. At 2.2 pounds, the X1 is easy to handle and slip into a bag.
The X1 fold’s multi-link hinge keeps the OLED screen perfectly flat so that the center crease is only slightly noticeable at an angle when viewing content. The fold hinge has been rigorously tested to withstand hearty use.
Lenovo has not revealed much about the X1 Fold’s processing power, other than stating it will be powered by an Intel Core chip with Hybrid technology and that the graphics will be integrated Gen 11 UHD. However, we do know the computer is limited to 8GB of RAM, which could be a detractor for power users. Storage is great though, with a 1TB SSD.
The ThinkPad X1 Fold is expected to ship with Windows 10 Pro in “Mid 2020” at a starting price of $2,499. The Bluetooth Mini Fold Keyboard and Active Pen will be sold separately.
Best wearable: Suunto 7
More capable than just a smartwatch, the Suunto 7 is your fitness partner and so much more. This sporty wearable ties in a host of Google apps, such as calendar, Google Pay, Maps and Keep for note taking. You can even use your Google Assistant to call an Uber. Stay in the moment with smart ways to text, email and see who’s calling, without pulling out your phone.
When it comes to health, you can access Google Fit, plus Runtastic, Lifesum and Strava. All day battery technology will keep you running- literally! The Suunto 7 smartwatch is available in five colors, with a list price of $499.
Best gaming tech: Alienware Concept UFO game console
Like the portable Nintendo Switch? Then you are gonna love Alienware’s Concept UFO. Unveiled at CES, the Concept UFO will look familiar to Switch fans, but the larger device adds the capability to stream games without a laptop or play without connecting to an external monitor. The device consists of two removable controllers on each side of an 8-inch display. When removed, controllers can be attached together to form a gamepad. There’s a kickstand on the back that allows the UFO to become a portable monitor, and it can plug into a display for a more conventional console experience.
While the Concept UFO is still a prototype, gamers that demoed it at CES seemed enthused. It might just be the next best evolution in video games, a powerful handheld that feels much more nimble than booting up a PS4 or Xbox One console.
Expect Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Sony to launch their version of portable streaming devices (some are already in beta testing), using their data centers for processing.
Best smart home tech: August Wi-Fi Smart Lock
I am famous for carrying an armload of packages from the car to the front door, then fumbling around for keys in my bag. This nifty device enables you to walk up to your house, and your front door will automatically unlock via a WiFi signal from your phone, without taking your phone out of your pocket or bag. Yipee!
The new August Wi-Fi Smart Lock, to be released soon, remotely locks or unlocks a door via built in Wi-Fi and allows you to double check door status remotely. You can also grant virtual guest keys, and track who’s coming and going. August Wi-Fi Smart Lock works with popular voice assistants and is easy to install on an existing deadbolt lock, allowing you to use existing keys when necessary.
Here is a full list of new product launches from this year’s CES.