The city of Las Vegas has spent a ton of marketing dollars convincing visitors that “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But early each January, the tech industry descends on the city for the CES trade show to reveal its latest creations hoping they do the exact opposite and spread far and wide.
Simple math, however, means that can’t happen for all of the gadgets and devices that get a loud and shiny rollout at CES. A lot of times the products don’t live up their promise, or they solve a problem that no one really has. But occasionally you see things that genuinely live up to technology’s promise of making lives better (or at least cooler).
To help separate the hype from the reality, we found 7 CES gadgets that are genuinely worth caring about.
SEVENHUGS SMART REMOTE
There was a time when universal remotes were a big deal. But the hassle of setting those old ones up usually outweighed the convenience that was gained. This new smart remote is what you really wanted all along. You simply point the remote at a device and it adapts to those specific controls. Aim it at your Sonos speaker and you can change the volume, then direct it at your Nest thermostat and you can adjust the temperature without doing anything in between. The Smart Remote is compatible with over 25,000 devices and new ones are continually being added.
LG 4K OLED W-SERIES TV
Remember the Monty Python sketch where the waiter offers the overserved diner a “wafer-thin” mint? Well, LG created a “wafer-thin” TV. The 65-inch W-series TV is a scant 2.57 millimeters thick. With the exception of wallpaper, nothing that currently hangs on your wall is as thin. The display can be so thin because it connects to a Bose soundbar that houses a lot of the inner workings of the TV—speakers, HDMI inputs, etc.
RAZER PROJECT VALERIE
The portability of a laptop is tough to beat, but so are the larger and/or multiple displays of desktop PCs. Razer merged the two with Project Valerie, a laptop with three (count em’) 17-inch 4K displays. The screens fold out from the center on both sides of the computer to create an immersive experience. The entire package weighs 12 pounds and is 1.5 inches thick, so it won’t be confused for a MacBook Air, but for certain PC gamers or people with hundreds of windows open at the same time, the added real estate makes it worth it.
We continually hear about how coding is the language of the future and how our kids need to know how to program in order to succeed in life. But kids (much like grown-ups) aren’t going to do anything if it isn’t fun. And fun is what Lego does best. It’s new Boost toys allow brick builders to program their creations to perform certain functions like walk and play music using a coding app that is so easy to use, even parents can figure it out.
While PC manufacturers have experimented with adding touchscreen functionality to laptops for a little while, Apple devotees have been S.O.L. Rather than waiting for Tim Cook to come around, Neonode created the AirBar peripheral to turn a MacBook Air into a touch-enabled device. The AirBar plugs into the USB port and attaches magnetically to the bottom of the laptop’s display. It emits an invisible light field that can sense the touch of a finger and even something as light as a paintbrush.
POLAROID POP CAMERA
The film vs. digital camera debate ended years ago, but that has not sated the desire for actual prints of photographs. At CES, Polaroid unveiled its newest camera, the Pop, to celebrate the brand’s 80th anniversary. The Pop camera produces 3x4-inch prints with the iconic Polaroid border. Anyone who has used similar cameras knows that you can burn through prints quickly and replacing the cartridges isn’t cheap. What’s nice about the Pop is that it is also a traditional digital camera, with a 20-megapixel CMOS sensor, so you can snap away and only print the really good shots.
OUTDOOR TECH RHINOS
Everything Outdoor Tech makes is pretty bomber, so it’s no surprise that the new Rhino headphones can stand up to a lot (even the name sounds tough). The Bluetooth headphones have a seriously legit water resistance rating, so if they happen to fall into a river for a sec while you’re out hiking you’ll be all good. With the Rhinos built in microphone, you can even use the headphones as a walkie-talkie when you’re out of standard cell range.