What we found to be the best of CES 2014
Adam: Heading to CES this year after launching our new site, Smartwatch Fans, I was obviously on the lookout for the newest and best smartwatches. I always look for that one thing from CES that blows me away and makes me say "I want it", but oddly I didn't find that this year at CES. There was no amazing tech toy that I said I simply have to buy. That being said, for me the Pebble Steel was the biggest announcement of CES. It wasn't announced so much at CES as during CES but it was still by far the tops for me.
Derek: You might think I'd say webOS TV, and that's exciting and all, but I think the big news was actually the WWE Network. And I don't care about the WWE. What they're doing — creating a 24/7 online channel with a comprehensive on-demand catalog for a reasonable subscription rate — is both a huge deal for fans and could be the catalyst that leads to real and substantial change in the television landscape. I hope that some day I can look back and say that it's because of Vince McMahon and company that I can watch the shows I want when, where, and how I want.
James: While perhaps not the biggest story, the biggest trend this year would have to be wearables. Everything from smartwatches to fitness trackers to brain sensing headbands made their way onto our #CESlive stage. The market is exploding for this stuff, and I expect creativity and innovation to follow suit. Should be real interesting to see what we can strap to our wrist, clip on our belt, or wear on our head at next years CES.
Mark: The Lenovo ThinkPad 8 is the first Windows tablet I'm seriously considering. I've played with the Surface and the Lumia 2520, but none of them excites me as much as the ThinkPad 8. It feels like an iPad mini in the hand and it has a super-cool cover. The cover folds in the corner which automatically turns on the camera. That feature alone got me hooked. I'm looking forward to its release later this month.
Phil: I don't need a new TV. But I want one. 4K is coming. OK, it's already here. But for me, it's coming. Eventually. And it's starting to become more affordable. Sure, we're a few years away from having a decent amount of proper 4K content, and you have to be careful about which hardware you buy at the moment, but that'll all sort itself out. And it'll be beautiful. Mobile-wise, it's obvious that everyone — and I do mean everyone — is jumping into the "wearable" space, and that's good. At some point someone will make something worth buying.
Rene: It’s impossible for me to pick one announcement as being the most important. Apple never showed up; Google, Microsoft, and even BlackBerry no bother either. Those left are either desperately searching for what’s next, or just as desperately pushing our what’s not quite ready. 4K TVs, connected cars, automated kitchens, health bands, smartwatches… and the list goes on and on. There was no one thing that clearly demonstrated that the past was over and the future had begun. Instead it was a year of adding pixels and chips and radios. But that’s okay, it just means there’s sculpting left to be done. There are problems left to be solved. Rather than one big announcement, we’re left with a mountain of small ones that, taken together, is still something to behold.
Richard: CES was the usual wall-to-wall devices, but as is so often the case, many come, few emerge. A couple of things in particular stood out too me, though. The first is the connected automobile. With Google announcing the Open Automotive Alliance before the show even officially began being just a part, the likes of Audi, BMW, Chevrolet and Ford were all on hand to show what they're doing inside your car (or giant truck.) The next big playground? Maybe, but it's going to be fun watching it evolve. And the other was the WWE Network announcement. Love it or hate it, what they're doing is a cord cutter's dream. A subscription-based, content-driven service completely free of the TV providers is what many of us dream of. We can only hope it inspires others to follow.
Simon: The Oculus Crystal Cove prototype blew me away. Being able to track subtle head movements adds a ton of immersion to the experience, and eliminating motion blur was a key refinement. At the very least, this virtual reality headset is going to dramatically change the way we enjoy video games, but I would be surprised if it didn't impact other media as well. I suspect we'll have at least one more iteration of Oculus with hand gesture recognition before we can start looking forward to retail availability, and yet even with that prolonged timeline, I'm still really, really excited about this product.