The Best of CES 2017

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CES 2017 included almost four thousand exhibitors, literally hundreds of thousands of products, and exhibit space equal to more than 30 football fields. Picking a handful of products from this overwhelming display was a daunting task. Our 2017 picks are the combined efforts of Tech50+ Editor-At-Large John Quain, Contributing Editor Linda Moskowitz, and Chief Content Officer Gary Kaye.

Televisions – For the second year in a row, our top pick is an OLED UHD TV from LG Electronics. The LG Signature W7 is a wafer-thin 4K Ultra HD OLED set that you can just about just stick to a wall. It’s just 0.15-inches thick. More important, LG has managed to boost brightness levels to rival LCD HDR (high dynamic range) sets. The only issue is price: The W7 65-inch model is available for pre-order for $8,000.

Smart Home – All the buzz at CES may have been about working with Amazon’s Alexa, but Lenovo made some noise with its own version of Echo called the Lenovo Smart Assistant. It looks like Amazon’s Echo, but has better sound and costs less (about $130) – and understands all the same Alexa commands.

MotorcycleHonda Riding Assist – A motorcycle that doesn’t fall over, the Honda Riding Assist may be the perfect tech for boomer bikers. Rather than using Segway-style gyroscopes, Honda achieves the balancing act by mimicking what humans do, making minute movements back and forth and sideways to keep the bike upright (it’s all based on Honda’s robotics research). No word yet on when it might appear in a consumer bike.

Self-Driving Car – Delphi Drive – Every automaker is working on a self-driving car. Delphi’s platform may be the most, well, human-like driver. The company is working with Intel and Mobileye to deliver a complete platform for autonomous vehicles. Expect BMW and Audi to be the first to use the system in the 2021 time frame.

Home Appliances – LG Smart InstaView Refrigerator – It’s a refrigerator and a communications center: the LG Smart InstaView has a 29-inch touch screen on the door that can be used to look up recipes or leave notes the family. Out shopping at the grocery store and forgot what’s in the fridge? Don’t worry, you can use your smartphone to access cameras inside so you can see what you still need to get. And yes, the fridge works with Amazon’s Alexa.

Samsung FlexWash and FlexDry – Samsung’s new four-in-one laundry system offers two washers and two dryers in one system. The FlexWash front loader is a full five cubic feet and its top loader is an additional cubic foot for that small off-color load that is needed immediately. Different settings can be used at the same time. The FlexDry system is able to handle the full load in the front of the dryer and to delicately dry a few things in the top dryer. There is also a “Delicate Rack” zone in the top allowing for flat drying with a controlled heated air flow.

Sleep Technology – Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed – Turning it up to 11 on the tech scale, Sleep Number is adding features like automatic foot warming to help you fall asleep to its top-of-the-line bed. Nightlights come on automatically should you wake to take care of business, and while you are in bed, it automatically adjusts to new sleeping positions, whether you’re on your side or rolled over onto your back. And yes, it will try to quell a spouse’s snoring by automatically raising their side of the bed.

Drone  PowerVision PowerRay – Drones are not just for flying. The PowerVision PowerRay is an underwater remote-controlled submersible. It has a built-in 4K camera (for those Doris Day Glass Bottom Boat shots) and a fish finder. No word on when it will officially launch but we can think of more than a few anglers who’ll appreciate its skills.

SmartphoneAsus Zenfone AR – On a show floor filled with new devices to capture and show virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR), it was inevitable that someone would come up with a way to include those features in a smartphone. Asus has done just that with the Zenfone AR. It has a sophisticated three camera array so it can shoot pictures, track motion, and depth. It has a powerful Qualcomm 821 processor and a first, 8 GB of RAM. It has a big 5.7″ AMOLED display and supports both Google’s Daydream VR format as well as Google’s Tango AR platform.

SmartwatchMatrix PowerWatch – Battery power, or lack thereof, is perhaps the biggest limitation to the mobile life. Many smartwatches can’t even last a full day on a single charge. The MATRIX PowerWatch is the world’s first smartwatch that you never have to charge. Powered by your body heat, it measures calories burned, activity level, and sleep using advanced thermoelectric technology. It is the only smartwatch to feature a power meter which displays how much electrical power you are generating.

Home Wi-Fi RouterLinksys Velop – This is a  whole-home WiFi mesh system. Each unit comes with three radios (one 2.4 HGz and two 5.0 GHz) to provide top broadband Internet speed all over the house. It is a vertical off-white tower that stands approximately 12″ x 3″ square and has two LAN/WAN ports. It comes with parental controls, a guest network and automatic updates and covers about 2,000 square feet per node. It also connects with Amazon’s Alexa which can turn the guest network on/off in addition to requesting credentials of both the main and guest networks. Velop is sold in 1-pack ($199.99), 2-pack ($349.99), or 3-pack ($500).
Laptop ComputerLenovo Thinkpad X1-Carbon – If there is a reference standard for road warrior laptops, it’s a title that’s been held for some years now by the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 line, updated to the X-1 Carbon. Now the fifth generation of the product gets even better.  Lenovo claims it’s the lightest 14″ business machine in the market, coming in at just under 2.5 pounds, and squeezing into what is basically a 13″ chassis. This year it’s available in both basic black and a new silver model. Of course it comes with the latest Intel processor and boasts up to 15 hours of battery life. It will be available in February for a starting price of $1349.

Convertible 2-in-1 Computer – Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 – Dell updates its XPS 13 introducing the smallest 13-inch 2-in-1 in the world. The InfinityEdge design is a 5.2mm border all around making this a 13.3″ display in an 11″ size laptop. It weighs 2.7 pounds and is made from a single piece of aluminum which is bonded edge-to-edge with Corning Gorilla Glass NBT for additional strength. The screen moves from laptop to tablet to tent to stand and has an extremely strong hinge that keeps the screen from shaking when you touch it. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 comes with solid state storage that goes up to 1TB. Prices start at $999.

Sound Bar – LG SJ9 Sound Bar – Imagine sitting in your living room and watching a movie. The camera is on an airport runway. A plane is taking off and comes right overhead. In the old days you’d hear the thunderous sound from speakers in the front or rear of the room. But with the Dolby Atmos technology that’s in LG’s slim SJ9 Sound bar, the sound seems to come right over your head, creating a true cinema audio experience. The SJ9 is also compatible with high-resolution lossless audio files and supports 4K Pass-Through technology allowing for a synchronized audio/visual experience.  Chromecast is built-in as well. Availability: late spring 2017. Pricing will be coming soon. Sony also showed an Atmos Sound Bar prototype but it is not expected to be available until the end of the year.

Connected Health Care Device – Tyto Care – This startup is taking a dual approach to connected health diagnostics, top down and bottom up. The company is introducing two virtually identical devices, TytoHome and TytoPro. The only difference between them is the software with the Home intended for consumers and the Pro intended for medical institutions. The device will allow someone to take a picture inside the throat, the ear, listen to the heart, the lungs, the abdomen, and communicate the results in real time with a video call to a physician. Both are expected to be available later this year, the TytoHome for $299, TytoPro for $999.

Musical Instrument – Roli Blocks – If you’ve always wanted to create music, but don’t know a thing about keyboards, or scales, this innovative system will let you create music using interconnected illuminated, colorful, touch sensitive blocks. It centers around a free smartphone app called “Noise,” but what comes out is fascinating music. The system allows you to snap together multiple blocks and controller units to create the sounds of instruments, rhythms, and notes. Price for the system begins with a single block for $179.95.

Wearables – Livall Bling Smart Helmet BH61S – Livall was the first company to create a smart cycling helmet for both safety and connectivity. It features embedded LED’s that flash continuously as well as turn signals, embedded speakers that will let you listen to music, or phone calls without cutting you off from the sounds around you. It has an SOS function as well as an intercom, and there are plans to link with mapping programs to provide spoken directions. It works with your smartphone and has a small controller on the handlebars to trigger the turn signals. The newest design is sleeker than its first products, with a concealed set of LED’s.

Camera – Nikon D5600 DSLR – The D5600 is a compact and lightweight 24.2-megapixel SLR that includes SnapBridge (WiFi + Bluetooth + NFC) for instant sharing, upgraded touchscreen function and a time-lapse feature. It has continuous shooting at 5 frames-per-second and captures fast moving targets with ease. The Vari-angle LCD allows easy composition from any position and the manual controls allows users to be more creative. This product is available as “Body Only” ($699), with the AF-P 18-55 mm F3.5-5.6G lens ($799), with the 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G lens ($1199) or with the 18-55mm and AF-P 70-300mm F4.5-6.3G lenses ($1149). All of these kits are currently available.

Portable Digital Audio Player – Pioneer XDP-300R – The Pioneer XDP-300R plays back many high quality audio sources and comes with two headphone outputs, one of which is a 2.5mm balanced output and a 3.5mm headphone output. The balanced output will allow for less “noise” and clearer audio. There is 32GBs of internal memory but also has two micro SD card slots (up to 200GBs each) so there is plenty of storage for music, movies, and apps as it uses an Android operating system. The storage, if only used for music, will enable 16 hours of Hi-Res audio playback. The player can be used with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is available now and costs $699.99.

Headphones – Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 SE– This is a wireless noise-cancelling headphone with NFC that is cost effective. It is a premium headphone that gives you bang for the buck. It is comfortable and covers the ear well. It also pauses the music when they are removed from your head; resuming when you put them back on. There are controls for adjusting volume and a switch that allows an open microphone mode so that you can hear ambient noise. The headphone is designed to receive calls and has a 24-hour battery life. The included cable lets you use it as a wired headphone for travel. It also has a  nice travel case with a separate compartment to hold the cable. It connects up to two devices at once.  It is available now at a price of $249.00.

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