6 of the Coolest Gadgets from CES 2017
The Consumer Electronics Show has wrapped its 50th year, filling Las Vegas with every possible form of technology you can imagine, and some you truly can’t. Some won’t catch on, like the curved and 3D TVs of recent years. Some are just pointless, like a showerhead that turns on and off with an app, or a toothbrush that uses your phone’s front-facing camera to make sure you’re brushing your teeth correctly.
Some are flat-out brilliant, though, and you’ll want to keep an eye out for them when they hit the market in the next few months. Here are 6 of the coolest devices from the biggest tech playground on Earth.
Best Speaker: Lenovo Smart Assistant
Voice computing and speakers as virtual assistants are a hot trend right now, but a common grumble about the current leader, Amazon’s Echo, is its bland, monochromatic design. Lenovo’s Smart Assistant (pictured above) is sleek enough to blend in next to the succulents on your bookshelf. It looks nicer, sounds better and costs less than the Echo, but it still runs Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa.
And it wasn’t alone — Alexa was everywhere at CES, suddenly blazing ahead of Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and all the rest. It seems if you aren’t already an Alexa home, you will be soon. The Lenovo Smart Assitant, in particular, will be available to up your home’s IQ beginning in May.
Best TV: LG’s OLED W7 & Sony Bravia OLED
There’s always an arms race going on with the latest, greatest TV technology. Right now, it’s OLED and QLED (if you’re interested in the technical explanations, check out this breakdown).
In plain English: More vivid colors, higher contrast, and better overall display, as promised with every new generation of TVs. But OLED, like LG’s W7, is like no TV you’ve ever seen — it’s 3.85 millimeters thick, a poster on your wall come to life.
Sony’s Bravia OLED adds transducers on the back to make audio seem like it’s coming directly out of the screen. Sound also pans from side to side, all within the TV. No matter the brand, these svelte new screens are going to carry a hefty price tag, but color us impressed.
Coolest Technological Leap Smaller Than Your Hand: Kingston DataTraveler Ultimate GT 2TB
At an event dedicated to unprecedented technological wonder, this is just a little flash drive. But we’re giving it a nod because the idea of carrying two terabytes in your pocket is simply amazing — that’s likely larger than your computer’s entire hard drive. As recently as President Obama’s first inauguration, 64 gigabytes on a thumb drive was a marvel. Kingston will release this beast in February.
Most Exciting Display: Dell Canvas
Remember the movie Minority Report? Tom Cruise could put on those cyber-gloves and navigate a computer through gestures. Well, we’re not there yet, but Dell’s horizontal workspace is an exciting step in that direction, especially for artists and designers of all kinds. It’s a bit pricey at around $2,000, but by connecting to your existing computer, the 27-inch Canvas doesn’t have to run PC software of its own, which helps keep the price down. Snag one beginning March 30.
Most Reinvented Gadget: Sevenhugs Smart Remote
Universal remotes are a good idea that simply never worked well enough. This one could actually change our minds: Sevenhugs Smart Remote redefines point-and-click by triangulating its location in your space and identifying exactly what it sees.
Here’s the kicker: It can recognize 25,000 devices. Point it at your TV and Roku options will pop up. Point it at a lamp, and the Phillips Hue smart light bulb app might appear. And it’s not just electronics: Point it at your window and it’ll give you the weather report. Point it at your front door and it’ll offer to order you an Uber. It’s no wonder it took home the Most Innovative Product in the Smart Home Category at CES.
Most Helpful Innovation: Aira
The blind and visually-impaired learn to navigate the world their own way. Some learn to “see” just as well as someone with 20/20 vision,but certain everyday tasks, like telling which bananas are ripe at the grocery store, will always introduce difficulties and delays.
Aira is an app that empowers visually-impaired users to explore their surroundings by connecting them to a visual interpreter through glasses like Google Glass. That trained agent describes what he or she sees, offering quicker, more accurate information than a cane or a guide dog can provide.
Plus, it’s just nice to get a description of the scenery sometimes, said Candice Jordan, who volunteered to test Aira. “I guess I would describe it as magical,” Jordan told CNBC. “Now, I can walk into a mall and instead of having to find a security guard or find a kiosk desk, I can walk into the mall, click on Aira and say, ‘Hi, what stores are in my vicinity, what stores do you see?'”