Highlights of CES 2013
Highlights of the 2013 International CES
The 2013 International CES, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow, wraps up for its final day in Las Vegas, USA, today. In between guest appearances by Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson and Maroon 5, CES 2013 has been a show packed with innovative technology and exciting new products. If you've missed any of our on-site coverage, don't worry, we've got you covered right here as we share the latest tech trends and best new products from all the conferences and show floors!
The major trend for audio at CES 2013 has been the widespread prevalence of portable, Bluetooth speakers. The Bluetooth A2DP profile is supported by almost all modern devices regardless of their operating system, letting them serve the needs of all smartphone users equally, an important feature in today’s world where users habitually switch between smartphones.
We were impressed by devices like Sony's SRS-BTX500, which addresses the problems associated with Bluetooth's lossy transmission format by adding Apt-X codes. This codec uses a linear compression of 4:1 to try to reach a compromise between quick transfer of data and performance. As an added bonus, the Sony SRS-BTX500 also comes equipped with NFC (Near Field Communication) compatibility.
Another Apt-X enabled Bluetooth speaker we liked was Soundmatter's FoxL Duet, a travel friendly stereo hi-fi satellite and subwoofer system combo.
Even headphones got in on the Bluetooth trend. The Bluetooth-enabled Panasonic RP-BTGS10 “bonephones” sit directly in front of a user’s ear canal, instead of inside or over the ear canal, where vibrations move through the bone directly into the auditory nerve, producing crystal clear sound.
Wi-Fi seems to be the trend for cameras at CES 2013. Panasonic's rugged Lumix DMC-FT5 is not only Wi-Fi enabled but also comes with NFC (Near Field Communication) and built-in GPS.
As for the best new cameras, FUJIFILM's X20 and X100S certainly seem to fit the bill. Outwardly they may not look too different from their predecessors, the X10 and X100, but they both come with FUJIFILM's new X-Trans CMOS II image sensor. X-Trans is FUJIFILM's proprietary sensor technology, which FUJIFILM says will increase resolution by 25% and reduce image noise by more than 30%.
While X-Trans certainly has its drawbacks (occasional color smearing and poor raw compatibility), our review of the early X-Trans sensors introduced in Fujifilm's flagship X-Pro1 and X-E1 cameras certainly ring true to FUJIFILM's promises: Images are more detailed than your regular camera's with much less noise. The X20 is the one to watch, as the removal of the low-pass filter might significantly boost this compact camera's imaging capabilities.
Lenovo had one of the most interesting products on display at CES with the Horizon Table PC. The Horizon Table utilizes 27-inch AIO PC specs with a 10-point multi-touch full HD display.
What's interesting about the Horizon is its table form factor (similar to Microsoft's Surface tabletop, but without the US$9,000 price tag), which lets you convert the Horizon into a flat table-like surface. This opens up a whole new avenue of functionality with apps and games that are best used on a flat surface, such as viewing photos and videos with a group or playing air hockey and other games.
NVIDIA released more details on GRID, its cloud-based ecosystem built around the graphical prowess of its successful Kepler GPU. GRID is a fully integrated server with 12 high-density GPUs, graphics application streaming software, and support for NVIDIA VGX Hypervisor technology that allows multiple users to share its graphical computational cycles.
The system is designed to produce higher quality gaming streams with lower latency than the first generation cloud gaming systems (such as OnLive).
Together with third party partner Xi3, Valve CEO Gabe Newell unveiled the first prototype of the long rumored 'Steam Box', a console form factor PC designed to play PC Steam games on big, high-definition screens for residential and LAN party gaming.
NVIDIA surprised everyone by jumping into the gaming hardware market with the unveiling of Project Shield, a Tegra 4-powered handheld console that will play console-quality games and be able to push 4K resolution video content over HDMI to external displays. The console itself will utilize a 5-inch, 720p Retinal multitouch display and will also have advanced sound processing circuitry that NVIDIA claims will rival Beats Audio-equipped notebooks. Users will also be able to stream games from a Windows PC.
Finally, Razer's Project Fiona made a reappearance, now renamed the Razer Edge. The 10.1-inch touchscreen Windows 8 tablet will be available in Q1 2013 in two configurations with the basic model retailing for US$999, and armed with an Intel Core i5 processor, NVIDIA GT640M LE GPU, 4GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 64GB SSD, while the Razer Edge Pro will retail for US$1,299 and boasts an upgraded i7 processor as well as 8GB RAM and a 128GB SSD.
On the notebook front, Lenovo unveiled the 11-inch Lenovo ThinkPad Helix, a powerful enterprise tablet with Ultrabook specifications and a keyboard dock. This hybrid PC is the first targeted specifically at business users, including both Intel's vPro technology and a fingerprint scanner for extra security.
Samsung also made waves with the introduction of two gorgeous new Windows 8 notebooks, the 15-inch Samsung Series 7 Chronos and 13-inch Samsung Series 7 Ultra. The 15-inch Chronos is positioned as a powerful and attractive touchscreen Windows 8 machine, but it's the 13-inch Series 7 Ultra that really caught our attention. This 13-inch touchscreen Ultrabook not only utilizes a full HD screen and SSD storage capabilities, it also has a discrete AMD Radeon HD 8570M GPU!
Finally, chip maker Intel announced that its new 4th generation Core processors, codenamed 'Haswell', will be the first processors designed specifically for Ultrabooks. Intel claims that the new processors will offer the greatest in increase in battery life, generation over generation, in the history of Intel. Intel also stated that touch as well as WiDi, will be a new requirement for all new Ultrabooks using these processors.
'Bigger and thinner' seems to be the trend for smartphones at CES 2013 with the debut of several 5-inch or larger full HD smartphones from Android vendors, including Huawei, Lenovo, Sony and ZTE.
Huawei definitely leads the screen size category with its massive 6.1-inch Ascend Mate. It also released the 5-inch Ascend D2. Both devices are powered by its custom-designed K3V2 quad-core processors.
Lenovo scored a number of firsts with its 5.5-inch K900. It's both the world's first full HD 5.5-inch phone, and also the first to be powered by Intel's new Atom platform. If that wasn't enough, it's also the thinnest 5.5-inch smartphone, and it has the widest aperture smartphone camera lens at F1.8.
Sony's new flagship 5-inch Xperia Z is powered by Sony's Mobile BRAVIA Engine 2, which is claimed to deliver a superior viewing experience with its sharpness, brightness and clarity. Its display is also scratch resistant, thanks to the use of tempered glass and anti-shatter film.
Not to be outdone, ZTE's new flagship 5.5-inch Grand S boasts an ultra thin 6.9mm side profile, making it the thinnest 5-inch 1080p phone in the world.
The theme for storage at this year's CES is much the same as any other year - bigger and faster! One product that caught our eye was Mushkin's new 960GB Chronos SATA III solid-state drive which, at 960GB boasts nearly double the capacity of the largest consumer grade solid-state drives currently available. If they can keep prices down, this new drive will surely win over anyone still clinging to mechanical hard disks due to capacity constraints.
Another standout product we spotted was Kingston’s new 1TB DataTraveler HyperX Predator 3.0 USB flashdrive. This USB 3.0 flashdrive boasts a massive 1TB capacity making it the world’s largest capacity flashdrive. With its capacity, speed and lightweight portability, it makes 1TB 2.5-inch portable hard drives look downright clumsy by comparison.
Cloud storage is fast becoming the latest must-have feature on any high-end external storage device and at CES 2013 we saw Buffalo introduce its BuffaloLiNK services.The service allows users to access all of their compatible Buffalo devices on the cloud with a single account, thereby removing the need to remember multiple user IDs and passwords.
With 3D a standard feature in almost every new TV, manufacturers have started working on delivering the next big thing, or rather, things: 4K (or Ultra HD 4K) and OLED.
Samsung unveiled its first 85-inch S9 UHDTV (and shortly after, a 110-inch prototype). Meanwhile, both LG and Sony added two new 55 and 65-inch 4K models to their range, joining their 84-inch flagship offerings introduced last year.
Toshiba also joined the 84-inch 4K club, with the introduction of the L9300 range, which will also come in 65-inch and 58-inch versions.
IGZO proponent Sharp came out with all guns blazing, showcasing two large screen Ultra HD television models at CES: the 60-inch ICC Purios TV, which is the first and only TV to pass all 400 of the tests required to receive THX's 4K Display certification, and the 70 and 85-inch Aquos Ultra HD TV, which utilizes a new Moth Eye screen technology that virtually eliminates glare and reflections while preserving color vibrancy and contrast.
On the OLED front, Panasonic (whom to our surprise, announced 16 new plasma TVs) and Sony both showcased prototype 56-inch TVs that merge both 4K and OLED technologies. Meanwhile, both LG and Samsung have us dreaming of an IMAX-style experience at home with their 55-inch curved OLED TVs.
Top News & Products from CES 2013