CES is an open house these days. While most of the media attention is on announcements from major brands in the industry such as Samsung Electronics, LG, and Sony, of late smaller companies and new startup have been shaking things up. CES 2014 was the show it promised to be with hundreds of new devices and technologies on show. We pick 10 of the best, maybe not the ones that have got a lot of attention.
The Kickstarter darling made its big public appearance at CES 2014 and the result was quite exciting. This 3D printing pen takes all of the modeling out of 3D printing and opens up creating objects to pretty much everyone—including kids. While you might not be able to do quite as much as you could with an actual 3D printer, it is a lot of fun to play with for only $99 (Rs 6,090).
9. Mophie Space Pack
There are always an insane amount of smartphone accessory companies at CES, but few of them manage to capture the attention of audiences. Then there was a Mophie Space pack. This iPhone 5/5s case not only charges your phone with additional battery, it also adds 32GB of storage to your device. The Mophie lets you drop your videos, pictures, and documents straight into its storage and even lets you play videos right from it. Not only that, the Space Pack is designed beautifully and surprisingly doesn’t add a lot of heft to the phone.
8. Steam Machines
The desire to break into the home console market has been growing among both consumers and companies for years now, whether it’s from independent Android consoles like the Ouya or big rumored living room takeovers from the likes of Valve or Apple. At CES, Valve CEO Gabe Newell finally lifted the lid off of the first generation of Steam Machines. The amount of computers on display was a bit shocking—as was the announcement that the consoles would range from anywhere between $500 (Rs 30,760) and $6000 (3,69,120). While many of these models still feel like prototypes in many ways, there is no longer any question regarding whether or not Valve is actually serious about the living room market. They are—and Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo have reason to be paying attention.
7. LG’s Curved TV
The whole curved screen has quickly become the great gimmick of 2014—that is, until LG showed off its 105” OLED 4k TV that just happened to have a nice flexible display on it. The curvature to this massive, gorgeous television feels just right—and unlike the curved displays on their smartphones, actually enhances the experience. This might be another product that won’t be hitting dealer shelves anytime soon, but that doesn’t take anything from the fact that LG has made an immersive and interesting television.
6. Pebble Steel Smartwatch
The Pebble Smartwatch was on the top of our best mobile gadgets of 2013, and for good reason. It was the first—and perhaps the only—smartwatch that made sense for the average person that doesn’t want strangers staring at their wrist while walking down the street. The Steel isn’t just a 2014 update to the original model—it is Pebble’s next step toward reaching the mainstream market. Both the leather and aluminum straps look and feel fantastic—and while they’re no Rolex, the update might be enough for those who don’t currently wear a watch every day.
5. Playstation Now
Playstation Now isn’t exactly a gadget—but for gamers, this online game streaming service was the most important announcement at CES this year. Sony had purchased the cloud gaming service Gaikai in 2012, but it wasn’t until this year at CES that we knew what for. Not only does Playstation Now effortlessly solve the backwards compatibility problem, but now Sony just may have the Playstation 4’s killer app—the thing that will make gamers want to reserve space for it under their TV.
4. Alcatel OneTouch Idol X+
Alcatel’s entry into the high-end smartphone market is good news cause it will ultimately make these devices more affordable. The prices of the best smartphones were skyrocketing with each consecutive generation costing more than its predecessor. Sure enough, inflation has something to do with it, but not everything. Major handset makers are using the power of their brands to feed their greed. With the likes of Alcatel emerging, the West might see a cut in prices. We in India are lucky to have Micromax and other local phone makers.
3. Asus Transformer Book Duet
Multi-platform devices are coming. The Asus Transformer Book Duet is not the first such device by any stretch of imagination, but it is getting us closer to that [multi-platform] dream. This laptop is made for heavy usage, boasting top-notch specs while allowing folks to use it both for business and leisure. It’s likely many other OEMs will follow-up with similar devices that merge Windows 8 and Android into a single device.
2. Samsung Galaxy Note Pro
The massive 12.2” tablet is Samsung’s answer to both the iPad Air and the Surface 2. Samsung has taken Android and placed what they call the Magazine UX on top of it. While we are not so certain the new homescreen interface is necessarily the best for ‘professionals’, it takes the best parts of Windows 8’s live tiles and is a big improvement over most of Samsung’s typical TouchWiz Android skins. The Note Pro also includes the Note 3’s excellent stylus to make for a big tablet that is fun to interact with and write on.
1. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Smartphones aren’t really much of a thing at CES anymore because most of the big manufacturers now save the unveiling of their flagship devices for their individual conferences and press events. However, Sony quietly brought what might be their best smartphone in years to the show: the Xperia Z1 Compact. Despite the silly name, the Z1 Compact has an excellent camera and accessible form factor that might just make it the early frontrunner in the 2014 Android scene.