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Everything we saw at CES

CES, the biggest technology conference in the world, is finally over for the new year of 2017. Our team flew in early to see what companies and startups had in store, which we surfaced here on Digital Bounds as well as our social media channels. If you felt too overwhelmed to stay updated, we got you covered with a recap of everything that happened.

Budget phones with high specs

Pre-press day, Huawei held a small conference and unveiled the Honor 6X. The base model comes in at $249 with a 5.5” display, a fast processor, 2-day battery, and 12-megapixel dual-lens camera. We were able to get our hands on the phone and used it throughout CES for live-streaming and Snapchat, and it held up very well with battery life and camera quality. The only thing we did not like was the outdated Android Marshmallow version as well as Huawei’s ugly UI skin. Also, a USB type-c port with quick-charge would have been nice to see.

We were also at the ZTE press conference where they announced multiple products. First is the ZTE Blade V8 Pro, which is their way of bringing their Blade lineup of phones to the US market. It is on par with the Honor 6X however it does feature a USB-C quick-charging port. Unfortunately it also lacks the latest version of Android, and comes installed with a skinned version of Marshmallow. The phone can be pre-ordered for $229.98. ZTE also announced the Hawkeye, which is a phone that has been made by consumers via Project CSX. Its uniqueness comes from having a self-adhesive back, and eye-tracking camera. It will also be crowdfunded on Kickstarter for $199. We’re not sure how useful the self-adhesion will be, or if it may even become an annoying aspect of the phone. They have over $450k to make in 40 days, so time will tell if this is a phone that people actually want.

Virtual reality and 3D audio

Sony had demos of the PlayStation VR, and the HTC Vive had one as well at the Razer booth. We tried them both and while the Vive offers a very realistic experience with their sensors, the one significant yet always forgotten aspect is the audio. In playing Raw Data, we faced the problem of actually having to look for enemies behind you, instead of hearing where they’re coming from. This is where our meeting with Waves came in play, where we played Racket NX–a simple racket ball game. With 3D audio, you’ll be able to hear where the ball is coming from, when you hit it, and so on. They also showed us their Waves NX tracking device, which turns any pair of headphones into a 3D audio one. The NX tracks your head so that it can keep the sound in a single place, as if you’re listening to a surround sound speaker system.

We also got to take a look at the Lucid Cam, which is a low cost 3D VR camera. At $399, you can record video at 2K, and take photos at 4K for VR. The device is small–about the size of a phone–and can stream to a monitor through HDMI. However, services like Facebook Live and Periscope will still need to add support for the camera.

Self-driving cars

This was the year of self-driving cars, where Faraday Future is trying to win over Tesla enthusiasts with the FF 91. This is the car they plan to bring into production later this year, assuming that they don’t run out of money. With a crazy 0 to 60 in 2.39 seconds, 1,050 horsepower, and backwards self-park that brought cheers from the crowd. Other manufacturers like Chevrolet, Audi, BMW, Bosch, Hyundai, and Toyota showed off electric, autonomous, and concept vehicles as well.

We also had a briefing with AImotive, a company that is aiming to bring AI in an affordable and safe way to self-driving car manufacturers. Their main point is that this is not just a side project for them, like it is for companies like Google. This means that their time is fully devoted to bring autonomous vehicles more quickly to the mass, despite having to take on giants like Tesla.

Smart watch for outdoor enthusiasts

Casio announced the PRO TREK Smart watch which is a well built and designed watch with Android Wear. It supports features that are very useful outdoors such as being water resistant, having multiple sensors, and built-in GPS. While the initial impression of the $500 price tag is seen negatively, it seems that Casio is trying to find its own niche with outdoors enthusiasts that want to surround themselves with rugged and high-quality gear.

Thin and smart TVs

TVs always make an appearance at CES, albeit not introducing anything revolutionary each year. However, we were quite impressed by the LG W7 wallpaper OLED TV. The name “wallpaper” comes from the fact that it is 3.85mm thin, which requires it to be mounted against the wall. However, it is likely to cost around $10k, so it is more for show than what most consumers would buy. Something a lot more affordable came from TCL, who announced very affordable 4K HDR TVs for $299, which featured built-in Roku and Android TV support. Other major TV manufacturers announced similar TVs that used the new Quantum Dot technology to offer a realer picture.

Smart appliances and Amazon integrations

LG is taking on IoT with what they call their SmartThinQ technology. This means a set of connected appliances through smart refrigerators, washing machines, dryers, and voice-controlled assistants. These products include Alexa integration so that you can talk to your fridge and add milk to your shopping cart, or ask a recipe question.

We also saw the GeniCan smart trash can device. It’s a device that you can clip onto your trash can to make it easier to order more food and other items before you throw or recycle them. It is an interesting product and makes it a more affordable option compared to buying a smart fridge, but does pose some potential issues depending on how you use your trash can. The Amazon Dash integration makes it convenient in instantly ordering what you need.

Closing thoughts

We all had a great time at CES and tried to explore anything that we felt was interesting or important. There was no single breaking product or technology this year, which is unfortunate and made it feel like CES 2016. However, there were still there interesting things that we saw. If you want to see more from us about what we covered at CES this year, check out our podcast and our YouTube channel.