Concept cars, robots that play ping-pong—there’s a lot of novel prototypes and show-off creations at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. They can distract you from the products that the average person might, I don’t know, actually eventually buy. We combed the show for the things that are headed for store shelves this year and that you might want to keep an eye out for.
Two years ago, the first Capsule projector was remarkable for having a full app system and a built-in speaker, all in something the size of a Coors can. This new version adds 720p HD resolution, autofocus, and more sound power. It also gets USB-C charging, which will mean a huge improvement in charging time over the older model’s micro USB plug. For those who like to talk to their TVs, it also runs Google Assistant to help navigate its Android operating system. It also still has HDMI and USB connectivity.
Nissan’s electric vehicle has always cost less than the Chevrolet Bolt and the base Tesla Model 3, but couldn’t go farther than 150 miles per charge. That changes with the Plus, which Nissan says will do 226 miles. (That’s still less than the Bolt’s 238 miles and the Model 3’s 264 miles). Nissan also gave the electric motor more power, 215 hp over the base Leaf’s from 147 hp. The Leaf Plus joins a growing list of electric competitors like Jaguar and Porsche, but if the to-be-announced price can stay close to or under $35,000, it’ll be worth considering.
It’s the size of the tiny, underpowered wall charger that comes with your phone, but puts out enough power (30 watts) to charge small laptops like the new MacBook Air, and quickly fill up tablets or compatible cameras. Anker showed the Atom a few months back, and now, after a delay, the company announced a formal launch date at CES. Being able to only pack one of these to charge your headphones, laptop, phone, and camera is the convenience promised by USB-C. How’s it stay so small? Instead of typical silicon, the Atom uses a material called gallium nitride, which can operate at hotter temperatures.
The previous generation of this laptop—one of the best, most easily recommendable Windows laptops around—had one issue: Dell engineers put the webcam below the screen, near the hinges, for excellent view of the users’ chins. The new 2019 model fixes that, and adds an optional 4K display. You can get it with an eight-gen Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 2 TB of storage.
OLED (organic light-emitting diodes) are what make modern phone displays and the highest-end TVs look so gorgeous. And the material has a cool side effect: You can flex the display, if built right, without breaking it. LG has shown this in a prototype TV last year. Now, it’s a real thing that (rich) people can buy.
When not in use, the TV R looks like a basic sound bar—the base is a 100-watt Dolby Atmos speaker. Turn it on, and the screen emerges like an upside-down window shade, revealing a 65-inch 4K TV. The back is made up of wide slats, kind of like a garage door, and folding arms that raise and lower the screen. There’s also a Line Mode, where only the top quarter of the screen peeks up to display, for example, the artist and track name you’re currently listening to via Alexa.
It’s a cool idea, taking Samsung’s Frame concept—when it’s turned off, make the TV into something unobtrusive, like a still image—to the most complex end. How much will it cost? LG hasn’t said yet. The company’s top-grade, non-folding OLEDs start at just under $10,000. Expect this one to be even more.
Squeezing all the big, hot, power-hungry components of a gaming computer into a clamshell laptop means sacrificing performance and ergonomics. To fix both issues, Asus borrowed from the design of detachable tablet/laptop devices, and made a portable gaming rig that we’d actually want on our home desk. It’s got serious hardware, like an overclocked Intel Core i9 CPU, and the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 GPU, all kept cool by the upright design, which helps circulate air. Another reason we want it for home: it weighs around 10 pounds. It’s technically portable, but we wouldn’t want to carry it very far. For anyone worried about latency with the wireless keyboard, it connects to the main rig over Wi-Fi, for no-lag input.
Google was present at CES with plenty of new hardware, including a voice-assistant-enabled Instant Pot. But we’re most looking forward to forthcoming software improvements. For one, Assistant will be able to automatically check in for upcoming flights — no more pulling up the airline’s website and copy/pasting your confirmation number. Also new: you’ll be able to summon the Assistant from within Google Maps to send WhatsApp messages or pick music, without closing the map displaying your directions. All pretty cool, assuming you’re all still on board with Google analyzing everything you do.
The previous Swift laptop was impressively tiny. This new one is even smaller. The 14-inch touchscreen display has very thin bezels, and a thin body that makes it especially portable. And yeah, like most exceptionally compact laptops, the Swift 7 is expensive—starting at $1,700. It also has a webcam set below the display, which can produce unflattering viewing angles. But in a package that’s less than a half-inch thick and weighs less than 2 pounds, those are mostly reasonable tradeoffs. If the design doesn’t trade off battery life, this will be a top contender for ultra-light Windows laptops.