After a few years that could never be described as vintage, the biggest consumer technology show of the year has started the new decade with a bang. There’s a lot to get through. Here’s all you need to know
CES 2020 is kicking off a new year, and a new decade, in some style with one of the strongest line-ups of major tech launches and weird and wonderful startups we’ve seen in a long time.
CES, which descends on Las Vegas once a year, is where tech companies present to the world what they hope will be the next big technological breakthroughs. We’re talking Sony’s tech-stuffed concept car, Samsung’s digital avatars and OnePlus’s disappearing phone cameras. We’ve put together all the trends and standout products from the conference – the show runs all week so look out for more tech news.
Laptops and tablets at CES 2020
Lenovo is kicking off the laptops at CES with a sleek new gaming laptop. The Legion Y740S is just 0.6-inches thick and weighs a light 1.9kg, and it doesn’t have a graphics chip – you read that right. Instead, the 10th-gen Intel Core i9 H-series processor’s chip will be the only thing necessary for entry-level gaming. If you do want better graphics than that, Lenovo has also developed an external Thunderbolt 3 GPU BoostStation, which you can plug in. The external GPU is what allowed Lenovo to create a gaming laptop in such a tiny shell.
More exciting, however, is that Lenovo has finally announced its foldable laptop will go on sale. The ThinkPad X1 Fold, which we first saw last year, has a flexible LG display and works in various configurations, including a full-sized 13.3-inch laptop and keyboard, as we’ve seen from Microsoft’s experiments in this space. We don’t know the full specs of this machine yet but Lenovo says it will cost around $2,499 and be available in mid 2020.
The promising Samsung Galaxy Chromebook has also been announced, and instead of the low-specs that Chromebooks usually sport, it has a 13.3-inch 4K display and a battery life that lasts an entire workday. In addition to the Chromebook, Samsung debuted the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex Alpha, which features a 13.3-inch QLED screen, as well as Intel’s 10th-gen Comet Lake CPUs, up to 12GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage
HP showed off a new Spectre x360 15 laptop, which boasts a 15.6-inch 4K OLED display and thinner bezels than its predecessor. HP’s Elite Dragonfly also made an appearance, with updated 5G connectivity and an integrated Tile tracker, which allows you to locate the laptop even when it’s powered off – handy.
TVs at CES 2020
Samsung was one of the first companies out the gate this year, hoping to steal the limelight. The Wall – literally – dominated the conference again, as Samsung unveiled its mammoth-size MicroLED Wall TV. It comes in 75-inches, 88-inches, 93-inches, 110-inches, 150-inches and 292-inch displays.
There are also a bunch of new Q-LED TVs which all have near-bezelless Infinity Screens, which Samsung says has a screen-to-body ratio of 99 per cent. In reality there is of course a bezel but in the case of the Samsung Q950, it’s a mere 2.3mm.
It’s also an 8K resolution TV, powered by a Quantum processor with Tizen smarts – because apparently 4K just doesn’t cut it anymore. Thanks to its Deep Learning AI, any non-8K content will be brought up to near-8K level. All Samsung’s 2020 8K TVs will come feature-packed with extras like the peak-millennial Multiview, which allows you to display your phone screen alongside whatever you’re watching, and the (belated but welcome) option to use Alexa or Google Assistant to control your Wi-Fi smart home-connected devices.
LG’s got itself a new roller TV, but unlike the one it unveiled at last year’s CES, which will be finally available this year, the company’s latest 65-inch UHD is a Roll-Down OLED display that, like its name suggests, rolls down from the ceiling, much like a projector screen. LG also showed off a smaller 48-inch OLED TV, the smallest OLED the company has ever produced – sadly there’s no price as yet.
The big surprise from LG this year, however, is the company’s weird OLED displays, designed to cover the walls of aeroplanes, making the cabin feel more spacious. There are also transparent LG displays that hit the CES conference floor, with a 55-inch Full HD screen that the company claims offers 40 per cent transparency for use as a cabin partition, as well as a 65-inch bendable OLED display and a 13.3-inch OLED plastic tablet. These screens will not just be for use in planes, but offices and cars, too.
Vizio has also announced a whole new range of TVs at CES 2020, including a new V-Series, M-Series, P-Series and P-Series Quantun Screen TV. The company has also announced its first-ever OLED TV, as well as a giant 85-inch version of the Vizio P-Series set.
Phones at CES 2020
The surprise of the show so far in smartphones has been the OnePlus Concept One, with its electrochromic glass which allows the rear cameras to ‘disappear’ from view when not in use, thanks to a partnership with McLaren. As the name suggests, though, it is just a concept that’s not currently in production.
Samsung has already made quite a splash with its pre-CES announcements this year. It has just unveiled more affordable versions of its popular Galaxy line-up, announcing the Galaxy S10 Lite and the Galaxy Note 10 Lite. Don’t let the name fool you, both phones have a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED Infinity-O display with 2400×1080 pixel resolution, as well as a 4,500mAh battery, octa-core processors , 128GB of internal storage space and 6GB or 8GB of RAM. In addition, both devices will have 32-megapixel front-facing cameras. And the Lite editions even bring back the beloved headphone jack.
The triple-lens rear camera system is where the main differences with the regular flagships lie. The S10 Lite features a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 48-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 5-megapixel macro lens, while the Note 10 Lite boasts a 12-megapixel ultra-wide lens, a 12-megapixel wide-angle lens and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens. If you go for the Note S10 Lite, you’ll also get yourself an S Pen.
TCL has also unveiled a trio of ultra-affordable foldable 5G phones that says it will be available for under $500. They’re just concept products at the moment, and run on Qualcomm’s mid-range Snapdragon 660 chipset, but expect this to get a spec boost whenever it actually does see the light of day.
Cars and automotive at CES 2020
It’s already another stonking years for cars and car tech at CES. The biggest surprise, full stop, is probably Sony’s Vision-S concept electric car. Sony isn’t getting into car manufacturing, far from it, but the sedan showcase is designed to draw attention to its work in automotive sensors – there’s 33 of them around the model – widescreen displays and 360 audio. Sony, it worked.
Meanwhile, Mercedes has shown off its Vision AVTR concept car, which is basically a big advert for the next Avatar film due out next year. It contains a battery the company says is made using graphene-based organic cell chemistry. The rear half of the car’s roof contains 33 flaps to simulate scales on an Avatar-like reptile, while the axel designs of the wheels allow the car to move in a sideways direction. Pretty neat.
In electric car tech, we have Fisker, which is showing off its all-new all-electric SUV called the Ocean. Fisker also announced a feature it refers to as ‘California mode’, where all the windows, the sunroof, C-pillar window and even the tailgate window are able to roll down.
Russian-based Yandex has demoed its self-driving tech with Toyota Prius sedans kitted out with the system. It will be able to perform unprotected left turns, and navigate around multi-lane streets and pedestrian crossings in heavy traffic, clocking in at speeds of up to 72km/h. According to the company, its cars have covered over 1.5 million miles on the road without a driver behind the wheel.
Byton has also shown off its M-Byte electric SUV, which comes with a massive 48-inch display inside the cabin and is expected to go on sale later this year. And BMW wants to make the car experience all about the passenger with its i3 Urban Suite. It features an enormous armchair for the passenger, as well as a coffee table and even a footrest.
Ahead of CES, Bosch unveiled an AI-powered transparent LCD Virtual Visor. Fitted with an in-cabin RGB camera, the Virtual Visor tracks how the sun shines on the driver’s face, using AI, the visor locates things like the driver’s eyes, mouth and nose to track how shadows move across the driver’s face, and darken and undarken the virtual visor when it’s needed. With the Virtual Visor, Bosch wants to solve a problem we’ve all begrudgingly dealt with for years.
Finally, one of the biggest announcements to come out of CES so far is Hyundai and Uber’s flying taxi, the S-A1, an electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle that the company hopes to provide at scale by 2023. And talking up its safety credentials, Hyundai explained that the S-A1 will have redundant rotas to make sure that a motor failure won’t crash the taxi and a parachute will deploy in an emergency. The craft’s rotas also spin slower than a typical helicopter’s to reduce noise pollution, and by the looks of things, it will be flown by a pilot.
Wearables at CES 2020
Ahead of CES, Jabra unveiled the Elite Active 75t wireless earbuds, which are more durable, come in six colours and boasts four-mics. Jabra also says they last up to 7.5 hours on a single charge and are waterproof up to IP57. Over in wristwear, the Suunto 7 is a Wear OS sports smartwatch with 12 hours of GPS training and Diesel’s unisex Fadelite offers a smaller body and transparent straps.
Designed for motorcyclists, Tali’s smart helmet is voice-activated, allowing you to make calls and ask for GPS navigation directions. There are front lights and tail-light and turning signals, and it connects with your motorcycle so that you can be sure the correct signal lights up.
There’s quite a lot of sleep tech at CES this year, too. If you struggle to sleep at night, then French healthtech startup UrgoTech has the answer for you, as it showed off its Urgonight headband, a padded headband with small electrodes that adjust to the size of your head. Similar to existing devices such as Muse, it measures your EEG via an app, with a view to showing you a real-time display of your brainwaves. You then complete different exercises to train those brainwaves, such as drawing relaxing patterns.
Smart home at CES 2020
With the big announcement in December that Amazon, Google and Apple are all working together on a new smart-home standard, suddenly smart-home device makers are in a much better position. Apple is even officially attending CES for the first time in years, not with its own announcements, but with a showcase of third-party HomeKit products.
Otherwise, it’s business as usual with new connected kit for every part of the house. Of interest, there’s Netatmo Smart Door Lock and Keys, which uses physical NFC keys as well as digital keys for guests.
There’s also another piece of bathroom tech from Kohler – after its superb Alexa smart toilet last year – with its Moxie showerhead which contains an Alexa-enabled Bluetooth speaker. Elsewhere, a smart bathroom mat by French company Mateo that can calculate your weight and track your posture; essentially smart scales in a mat.
Canadian company Danby has revealed a smart mailbox, called the Parcel Guard which acts as a safe anti-theft box, which can be opened by couriers using a code or a smartphone app. The Parcel Guard also allows the courier to place phone calls to the customer if they need to open the mailbox, and records footage with its motion-detection camera.
Lexilife, another French company at CES this year, has also created a smart light that it claims can reduce the effects of dyslexia. The company’s lamp emits pulses of light to enable one eye to gain power over the other, and the company says that it worked in 90 per cent of participants with dyslexia.
Korean company Tenminds has made a Motion Pillow that claims to stop you snoring. Featuring a pressure monitoring system with four airbags inside, the pillow is able to detect snoring and gently inflate or deflate in order to turn your head.
Samsung at CES 2020
It’s not just new 8K TVs that Samsung has unveiled, but a whole range of new ‘lifestyle screens’ as well. The Serifs now come in 43-inch, 49-inch and 55-inch sizes, and in the additional colour Cotton Blue. There’s a new Sero, too, Samsung’s strange vertically-oriented floor-standing TV screen, as well as new models of the company’s digital picture frame that come in 32-inch and 75-inch models.
The Samsung Family Hub smart fridge also made its now-expected appearance. With its AI upgrades, the smart fridge scans your fridge and provides you with grocery recommendations, identifying all the ingredients you’re running low on. As well as that, the AI system can even plan meals for you based on what’s kept inside. It’s still got a trusty touchscreen on the front, which you can use as a bulletin board or play videos on.
LG at CES 2020
Forget TVs, the thing we want most after LG’s CES press conference is its ice balls! Perfectly spherical, perfectly round. LG has a new smart fridge that produces not ice cubes, but ice balls, because crushed ice and square cubes are so 2010s. The InstaView with Craft Ice produces two-inch ice balls that melt slower than cubes. There are two models, both featuring a 22-inch touchscreen that can turn transparent, giving a view inside your fridge without you having to open the door. You can even browse the web on the screen, and like Samsung’s, it will give you recipes based on what you have inside your fridge.
While we were distracted by the ice balls, LG also wanted us to know that LG is the world’s best-selling OLED brand. The company announced a new 48-inch OLED TV, its smallest OLED to date. Plus, the company showed off its LG G10 Gallery Series OLED, an unbelievably slim 20mm TV. It’s 65-inches and it’s designed to sit completely flush against the wall. There’s also a whole host of 8K TVs that have LG’s new contrast modulation, with the company saying that every 8K model exceeds industry 8K certifications.
Sony at CES 2020
Aside from the PS5 logo, the most interesting thing unveiled by Sony this year was the company’s aforementioned Vision-S concept car. Inside is a complete panoramic touch screen interface that you use to control entertainment options and the navigational panel. There are multiple speakers built into each car seat for a surround-sound experience. This partners nicely with the company’s announcement of three 360 Reality Audio concept devices.
And of course, we got a look at several new Sony 4K and 8K TVs. These included the 8H 8K LED, A8H and MASTER Series A9S OLED, and X950H and X900H 4K LED. According to Sony, all its TVs will also contain the Picture Processor X1, a Netflix Calibrated Mode and IMAX Enhanced. So very much focused on picture quality with nothing bendy or especially excessive in scale, however, with models ranging from 48-inches to 85-inches.
And finally… Charmin Rollbot
Roll up, roll up. No, not you, Charmin’s Rollbot. Charmin, yes, the toilet-roll manufacturer, is already catching eyeballs at CES 2020 with its bizarre self-balancing Rollbot. The Rollbot is a bear-faced robot that is able to fetch you some toilet paper when you’re on the bog and realise you’re out of your favourite soft, velvety commodity. The Rollbot is joined by the SmellSense, a sensor that tells you whether it’s good to go inside the bathroom or no based on the smell inside. It detects the amount of carbon dioxide or hydrogen sulphide in the air to give you an A-OK. Both gadgets are concept products and won’t go on sale (this year, at least), but the toilet roll manufacturer says it’s giving us a glimpse of what the bathrooms of the future could look like.