I’m going to start with an all-round acknowledgement of the very strong reaction to my previous column. While most of you loved the new categories I came up with, a lot of readers pointed out that I seemed to be ignoring the four pillars of technology: smartphones, tablets, notebooks and televisions. I’m glad you noticed!
CES 2015 was a wake-up call in pointing out that the cycle of technology was finally moving past the usual suspects and that real innovation lay beyond the obvious. While I have awarded a notebook and tablet this time, 2015 may well pave a path in new categories that will jump out of the box and outwit the typical.
The best of the dead
It’s ironic that the best tablet of CES 2015 came from a company that hasn’t had success in an almost dead category of gadgets. But the Dell Venue 8 7000 (worst name ever) is formidable and very clever. Thinner than even the iPad Air, almost no bezel, stunning 8.4-inch OLED screen, eye popping 2,560 x 1,600 resolution and a killer three-lens camera set- up that uses Intel RealSense to do magical things to pictures after you’ve taken them. If ever a tablet could revive this dead category, it’s this one.
When you want a gaming rig PC, then it should look the part. And the CyberPower Fang Trinity does just that. As its multi-spoke design looks menacingly at you, you may forget that there’s an intelligent reason for it to look this way. It separates the chassis into three zones (CPU, graphics and power supply), so that each runs at its most efficient and can be customised and upgraded separately, the way gamers would like it. The CyberPower Fang Trinity is so badass that it should have its own character in a game.
At least it’s working
The conundrum of whether you should buy a 4K TV or not rests on whether you can play 4K content on it. Panasonic came one step closer to this with its 4K Blu-ray player. This one plays real raw 4K content, not some upscaled crappy stuff. The problem is that it’s still a prototype and may take some time to become reality. At least this was a working model, most others companies couldn’t even do that with their so called 4K media players.
Light as a feather may well be an old way of describing things, but when it becomes real, it’s a tad unnerving. As I held the Lenovo LaVie HZ550 in my hand, I actually had to ask the people at the booth if it was just an empty shell. This is a 13 incher that weighs just 700 grams (that’s about half of the 13-inch Macbook Air) yet has serious power under its very light hood. Great screen, great processor, good battery life. And that lightness!
Reinventing with a vengeance
It’s the first time in 10 years that I’ve had an aching need to buy a desktop PC, but the HP Sprout will do that to anyone. A beautiful screen, an Illuminator column that consists of a high-definition top projector, a scanner, plus cameras.
This projects from the top onto your work surface, which is a huge touch-screen mat, and opens up a world of infinite possibilities. You can manipulate objects and scan, animate and model objects for 3D printing. The Sprout may well sprout a new era of desktop computing.
Oh come on, that can't be
A wearable device that can actually alter your mood. Before you get into a sceptical mood and move on to the next award, give this one a chance. This is the Thync mood enhancer, a system that delivers feel-good electrical stimulation directly to your brain. It has been created by neuroscientists, and as I strapped on the little unit to my temple and neck, I was very sceptical too. Ten minutes later, I came out feeling really, really good. Thync about that!
Tech you can eat
3D food printers became deliciously real this year. From the CocoJet that printed complex, layered chocolate treats, to the ChefJet Pro 3D that churned out intricate confectionery to the XYZprinting machine that printed out pizzas and pasta. My prediction: in five years, 20 per cent of us will own a 3D printer in our home and almost all of us will have one in our kitchen. Take care of yourself and come back soon
Reached a crowded mall and there’s no place to park? Just ask your car to find a parking on its own and to come and pick you up as soon as you’re finished. All on its own. All you need is Samsung Gear Watch to issue the commands to a BMW car to make that happen. The car is equipped with four laser scanners on each side, which can detect objects and map surroundings. The future isn’t far when a parking lot will have all these driverless cars scurrying around looking for their owners.
Solving the world’s greatest problem
Maybe quadrupling the battery life of your phone isn’t possible yet. How about charging your phone to full in exactly two minutes, instead? I saw a fully depleted battery go to 100 per cent in about 120 seconds. This two-minute sorcery was made possible by a company called StoreDot, whose ultra-fast battery charger is in prototype form but may be out sometime this year.
Worst of CES
Many came to mind but two stood out. The Furo-S is a five foot tall female robot that will work as your maid, but unfortunately the programmers seem to have given her more of sex slave personality. She winks inappropriately at all suggestions, has strange expressions and moans too! And female exploitation at some booths was excessive. From outfits that were more appropriate for strip clubs – the booth babe syndrome lived up to the cliché that the only way to sell tech is with under-dressed girls!
From HT Brunch, January 25, 2015
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