Mobile, Technology

Best of CES 2015: Our Favorite Gadgets from the Electronics Show

Avatar Written by Uzair Ahmed · 5 min read>

The 2015 episode of the 4-day extravaganza of cool tech and gadgets, known as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), is now over. Like every year, thousands of startups and reputed companies showcased their innovative products and ideas in Las Vegas, USA. More than 170,000 journalists, industry professionals, celebrities, tech geeks, and gadget enthusiasts flocked to the show to assuage their thirst for the futuristic technology, and from what we’ve seen, it must have been a fulfilling experience.

Even if you couldn’t follow every single story throughout the event, you needn’t worry: We have compiled the best of CES 2015 here in a single place to fill you in on all the important things. Sift away and tell us what you loved the most about CES ‘15.

AIR-2 (Levitating Bluetooth Speakers)

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AIR2 (Air squared) might be the coolest speakers in existence right now, and that’s not because they sound great. It’s because—get this—they can hover inches over their base while playing Float Away sitting next to your laptop. Thanks to the magnets which allow the speaker itself to float in mid-air, they can also be attached to a refrigerator door.

Marketed by Axxess CE, a manufacturer of several (albeit less interesting) multimedia products, AIR-2 depend on Bluetooth technology for their functionality, and are chargeable via a USB port. The patent-pending design of the novel speakers impressed the CES judges so much so that it took home one of the event’s ‘CES Innovation Awards’. The speakers will cost around $200 and there is no word on their general availability from the company.

Withings Activité Pop (Smartwatch)

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Withings Activité Pop is a smartwatch with a twist. It doesn’t have any sleek bells-and-whistles like customizable dial-faces, cool software, or even a touchscreen onboard. Instead, it looks like a regular circular-shaped watch with analog hands, and brains that don’t show up on its dial.

Withings Activité features a ‘daily fitness goal’ hand on the dial that syncs feedback from the companion smartphone app. The watch can track a user’s walking/running, sleeping, and swimming activities. It can also wake a user up using built-in vibration motor after the user has set an alarm using the companion app on smartphone. Pop promises an 8-month-long battery life which can be extended by installing a new replaceable battery. The watch also offers water resistance up to 30 meters of depth. It will be made available in Azure, Shark Grey, and Sand color options.

Withings Activité Pop is priced at $150 (~PKR 15,200), a lot less than its $450-expesive predecessor Withings Activité. It will be made available online in US starting tomorrow and a wider launch will follow in March later this year.

Dell Venue 8 7000 (Tablet)

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Another winner of the CES Innovation Awards, Dell Venue 8 7000 is one of the sleekest Android tablets. It is powered by a 2.3 GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 processor, and at just 6.1mm, it is world’s slimmest tablet with a 2K (2560 x 1600 px.) 8.4” display as well. Featuring an idiosyncratic bottom-side placement of loudspeakers and front-camera, Dell Venue 8 7000 is a strong performer as well. 2 GB or RAM, PowerVR G6430 GPU, 16 GB of internal memory, and support of microSD cards up to 512 GB complete the package.

Apart from these powerful internals, it is also the first tablet to sport Intel’s RealSense 3D technology which is composed of dual 720p cameras on its back, and it lets the user modify a photo’s depth-of-field and focal point after the shot has been taken. The secondary (front) camera is 2MP, while a fourth, primary camera on the back is 8MP.

The tablet runs Android v4.4 KitKat and a v5.0 Lollipop update is in the works as well. The tablet will come in Wi-Fi only, and 3G/4G LTE variants. It will cost $399 (~PKR 40,200) and is being made available for sale online and in the US immediately, with other regions following in ‘early 2015’.

Dell XPS 13 (Laptop)

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The race of minimizing display bezels has caught up with the laptop industry and Dell XPS 13 is among the first to flaunt a slim and beautiful form-factor with 5.2mm bezels that are barely there.

Dell claims that months of engineering and design research went into manufacturing the smallest 13-inch, lightweight marvel in existence, and the claim doesn’t sound too hollow if one cares to dig a little deeper. The laptop has a 3,200 x 1,800 quad-HD display, a tapered design that goes down from 0.6 to 0.33-inch, and at 1.17 kilos, weighs lighter than a MacBook Air. The body features a blend of carbon-fiber on top and anodized aluminum on bottom, giving the laptop a premium feel. Naturally, Dell XPS 13 will come equipped with Windows 8.1.

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Dell XPS 13 will be available in variants with touchscreen support and 1920 x 1080 px. resolution displays as well. Dell claims to have extracted around 15 hours of battery life from the model thanks to a combination of advanced Li-Po battery technology and the energy-efficient 5th generation Intel Broadwell processors, but this statistic holds true only for the base model (no touchscreen; least display resolution). A touchscreen model, Dell says, will be able to last around 12 hours.

With a price-tag of $799 (~PKR 80,500), Dell XPS 13 will compete with the likes of Apple MacBook Air. It is on sale at the official Dell website as of now and will hopefully be available in country within a couple of months.

LG G Flex 2 (Smartphone)

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Announced at CES 2015, LG G Flex 2 is the latest smartphone from LG, and it isn’t afraid to flex its muscles. Based on LG’s previous LG G Flex phone with a curved and flexible display, G Flex 2 takes things a step further by packing the latest 64-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset, an octacore Cortex A53+A57 processor, and Adreno 430 GPU. It has two variants as far as memory capacity is concerned: 2 GB of RAM + 16 GB of ROM, and 3 GB RAM + 32 GB of ROM.

The display on LG G Flex 2 is 5.5-inch, 1080 x 1920 px. with P-OLED technology. The smartphone has a 13 MP primary and 2.1 MP secondary camera. It comes with Android v5.0.1 Lollipop out of the box.

LG hasn’t said anything on G Flex 2’s price or availability as of yet, however sources indicate that it will cost around $775 (~PKR 78,000).

HP Pavilion Mini & HP Stream Mini (PCs)

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HP Pavilion/Stream Mini are tiny desktop computers that, at a first glance, might remind most Pakistanis of their lunchboxes from the school-days. Inside a 5.7 x 5.7 x 2.0-inch HP Pavilion Mini, you’ll find 500 GB hard-drive, 4 GB of RAM, 4 x USB 3.0, 1 x DisplayPort, and 1 x HDMI port(s). 3.5mm audio and Ethernet jacks are also there. It can be configured with Intel Celeron, Pentium, or i-series Core processors.

HP Stream Mini, on the other hand, favors an online cloud-based existence, and only has a 32GB SSD and 2GB of RAM. Rest of the Pavilion Mini’s ports can be found in Stream too. It can be configured with Intel Celeron processor.

The prices of HP Pavilion and Stream Mini will start from $319 (~32,150) and $179 (~PKR 18,000) respectively, and will be made available January 14 onwards.

Other Major News/Announcements

Prynt is an ambitious phone case/accessory that can print-out your photos via Bluetooth or dock connectivity. As exhibited at CES ’15, Prynt uses thermal printing technology and while the final result is not that sharp, it still serves the purpose that can be expected from an instant printout. Prynt development team will soon launch a Kickstarter campaign and the gadget itself will be made available for around $99 (~PKR 10,000).

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Mercedes-Benz unveiled its all-connected, and self-driving F015 ‘Luxury in Motion’ concept car at CES. The vehicle is populated with touch displays, LED lights, futuristic technologies, and next-generation software that allow it to drive autonomously, provide the passenger a luxurious and comfortable riding/driving experience, and furnish tools to keep them connected to both real and online worlds.

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PonoPlayer, a music player that promises audio quality far superior as compared to regular CD quality, was finally announced to be available for purchase at CES 2015. PonoPlayer gained fame almost a year ago for it peculiar, triangular shape, endorsement of the famous musician Neil Young, and beating its Kickstarter goal 7 times over. PonoPlayer has a touchscreen display, 128GB of total storage, and it costs $400.

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While Dell claims that XPS 13 is the smallest 13-inch laptop, Lenovo LaVie HZ550 is the lightest. At just 0.8 kilos, it is 43 percent lighter than Apple’s MacBook Air. LaVie HZ550 has been manufactured in collaboration with NEC. With a display resolution of 2,560 x 1,440, Intel Broadwell CPU configuration, and 6-7 hours of battery life, LaVie HZ550 is an ultraportable performance machine. There is another HZ750 variant available as well that boasts a 360-degree rotatable display to morph it into a tablet. For all these machine offer, they have also been priced heavily: $1,299 (~PKR 130,000) for HZ550, and $1,499 (~PKR 151,000) for the HZ750 variant.

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–Images courtesy: CiteWorld, PCWorld, Wired, UTSanDiego, Tom’s Guide, PCPro, TheNextWeb

Written by Uzair Ahmed
An engineering student, avid tech-enthusiast, and aspiring developer with particular interest for Android platform. Profile