Despite Microsoft’s decision to not participate in the LasVegas-based show that kicks off every year, the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show did not lack amazing products, dazzling ideas and some genuinely off-the-wall propositions. That being said, certain developments seemed to capture a lot of attention, signaling where the future might be headed.
Here are some observations:
- Tablets continue to be front and center. Despite Apple’s 2012 launch of the iPad Mini, other industry leaders are moving in the opposite direction. Sony, Panasonic and Lenovo all showed super-sized tablets. Lenovo topped the scales with its entry Horizon, a 27-inch-screen, tabletop device that weighs almost 18 pounds. Neither light nor portable, Horizon is described as a multiuser device that’s great for collaboration in the workplace. In the manufacturer’s own words, it is a “multiuser, multimode, multitouch table PC” and runs Windows 8. Despite its short two-hour battery life, the Horizon product attracted quite a buzz during the show.
- On the smart phone front, industry experts gave Sony’s Xperia Z a thumbs-up. Despite the fact that Sony faces a big challenge making a serious inroad in this market, the Xperia has some features that we can all value. It is water-resistant and able to survive a half-hour dunking; dust-proof; and offers a first-class camera.
- Health and fitness became an important category in 2013. Not only did show attendees see smart phone apps that are pedometers, distance trackers and fitness planners, but they also saw smaller hand-held devices for medical professionals. Plessey demonstrated Impulse, a new handheld electrocardiogram monitor that simplifies the process and allows a nurse to remotely monitor patients. Technology that can help medical staff provide tests remotely to patients in areas where there are shortages of doctors and nurses is of interest to many health services worldwide.
- When it comes to TVs, bigger is better, too. Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp and Sony launched their latest models. The latest big idea is the ultra high-definition 4K screen, which offers an even crisper picture than HD versions. Most of the models shown are not available yet commercially. But it may be some consolation to know that prices are expected to be extremely high (estimates exceed $20,000) and, even if money is no object, that there is little special programming available currently. These new TVs need to be 60 inches or larger in order to deliver the additional quality viewing.
- Other moves in home entertainment included LG’s rebranding short-throw projectors aimed at consumers who want a huge screen size but don’t have the space to operate one. These short-throw versions only require 22 inches of space from the wall to project a screen size of 100 inches. Samsung has also developed a TV (E800) that offers new ways to navigate – on-screen personalized suggestions, on-demand programming, social media and the user’s own videos and apps. It’s a bold move to challenge the traditional channel listings.
- On the automotive side, talking tech devices were all the rage. Chevy showed its on-board assistant (accessed via the steering wheel) and Ford showed its AppLink, which comes with voice control for the Fiesta and Focus.
It remains to be seen which trends will turn into major innovations and which will fizzle. As always, the CES continues to demonstrate how we interact with technology and how ingenuity continues to advance.