In this edition of the Friday Debate, we look back at an eventful week filled with product announcements ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Yes, it was the week of CES and (almost) everything and everyone in the tech world revolved around Las Vegas. We’ve seen exciting new smartphone and tablets, dozens of wearables, and a variety of Android-powered gadgets and gizmos, from cooking stoves to Full HD projectors.
Now that the show is winding down, what’s your takeaway? What were the products that really impressed you? What will you remember a year from now?
Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!
This is my second year attending CES and like last year I’m left bored with the lack of Android. I can’t say I’m surprised though, device manufacturers prefer to launch their heavy hitters strategically during the year at their own events.
My favorite Android related launch is the Asus ZenFone smartphone lineup. Priced at $99/$149/$199 these phones are bargains for what you get. The phones feel great in the hand, not like some cheap plastic $99 phone that you’d expect. The build quality is excellent and the switchable coloured back plates are a fun addition.
What impressed me was the increased focus in home automation. Shortly before CES LG unofficially announced HomeChat, a service that lets you text your appliances and tell them to do things. Then at CES, Samsung Smart Home was announced which lets users control various things in their house.
What impressed me was how simple and easy they made home automation look. With the LG HomeChat all you need are appliances that can accept text messages and you automatically have a smart house. Samsung took it a step further and allows you to simply control everything from your devices in your home using a central server style interface (everything is connected all the time and you just tell it what to do).
Obviously there are cons to this. I’m sure Samsung Smart Home only works with Samsung products (lame) and the LG HomeChat is bottlenecked by only being controllable by certain text input but it moves the home automation forward (and it uses Android…mostly) so I’m okay with it. Growing pains, as they say.
But some other stuff that would be cool. If Smart Home became a reality, the Galaxy Gear would actually be useful for a change. Anything Samsung can do that makes that watch desirable is impressive and if I had Smart Home in my house, I’d love to control it with a watch. So I’m excited to see what Samsung does with this down the road.
There have been lots of little unveilings at CES, but there hasn’t been a product which has blown me away. If I had to pick something, the Galaxy TabPRO seems like a very strong product. On the other hand I really don’t care for wearable accessories, so most of that went over my head. Instead I’m much more intrigued by the future direction that some companies appear to be taking.
Dual boot tablets and laptops, for instance, could definitely shake up the manufacturing market and propel Intel to the forefront of mobile processing. I expect a decent consumer appetite for these products, especially with business clients who are all probably using multiple operating systems for workstations, smartphones, etc. It also leaves the OS developers in a strange situation. Without hardware to separate their consumer bases they’ll have to find even more ways to draw punters into their own ecosystems. This could turn out to be a really big deal.
As Joe said, home automation is intriguing, and Intel’s little Edison chip could spark some new products.
Hardware continues on its steady upward path. The Snapdragon 805 and Adreno 420 look good, but we’ll have to wait to see what products they eventually end up in. The Tegra K1 tries to shake things up with some serious gaming horsepower, but is Android ready for “hardcore” gaming?
I’m neither underwhelmed nor overwhelmed. CES has been a nice start to 2014, but no doubt there’s some juicier tech to come.
I’m very pleased to see that both high end smaller devices are coming to the fore, and that there is so much focus on the things that matter most: build quality, the camera, battery life, and having reasonable prices for hardware. The Moto G is just the beginning, folks. 2015 will likely herald the year of the awesome $99 Android smartphone, which is absolutely amazing for so many reasons.
4K, augmented reality, contextuality, and ever improving technological standards are what consumer electronics are all about. There’s no industry more fiercely competitive than the mobile technology industry, and it’s great to see industry leaders push things forward with beefier batteries, higher spec’ed 2560×1600 displays, and faster, more robust power sipping processors.
Manufacturers take what they do very seriously, and the pressure the competitive forces at work are putting significant pressure on industry incumbents to do better. No one company is good enough to remain at the top if it doesn’t continue to do right by consumers by offering better tech at even better prices. Companies that are doing right in this regard, to me, are ASUS, Huawei, Alcatel, and more.
All in all, CES 2014 has been a whirlwind. Mobile processors are starting to become ridiculously powerful – see NVIDIA Tegra K1, Snapdragon 805 (which promises to nearly double the memory bandwidth over the behemoth that is the Snapdragon 800), and much more. It will take some time to digest it all….
Oh, and the Xperia Z1 Compact is one heck of a device. With near legendary build quality, an absolute beast of an Soc (Snap 800) and the very excellent 20.7MP Image sensor – all packed in a tight waterproof, svelte frame are sure to impress. Too bad it won’t come to the US for at least another 6 months.
And finally, Intel has really taken the plunge towards Android. Chromebooks took 10%+ of all PC shipments in just one quarter. While Microsoft’s Windows isn’t going anywhere – the frequency and intensity of advertising that major markets (like the US, Canada, the UK) are receiving would suggest that Microsoft indeed feels threatened by the onslaught of Chromebooks, Android tablets, and other phablet and hybrid device that are going to continue to redefine the mobile experience. The whole ability to run Android and Windows 8 on a single device at $599 courtesy of ASUS is absolutely epic. I have a feeling though – that if one were to buy this device that they would use M$FT Windoze 8 about 1/10 the time.
My thoughts. Thanks for all the great contributions guys, tons more videos and great images courtesy of +Joshua Vergara are coming soon.
Take care guys!
The products that most impressed me on the Android side of things were the ZenFone lineup and the Xperia Z1 Compact.
As an owner of the Xperia Z1, and a person who hasn’t quite enjoyed the increase in screen size over the years, and I’ve been constantly searching for a smaller Android smartphone, which maintains the high-end specs of its 5+ inch flagship brethren. Enter the Z1 Compact. It maintains the high-end specs of the Xperia Z1, while improving upon the display by adding an IPS display instead of the sub-par TFT display on the Z1. Now people might complain about the 720P display, or the fact that it’ll no doubt carry a high price tag, but it’s the flagship mini Android smartphone that we’ve waited for, and therefore deserves to be priced alongside other flagship devices (although I wouldn’t say no to a little price difference).
The ZenFone lineup is also interesting in that they’ve got a solid lineup of smartphones for cheap. Following in the footsteps of the Moto G, they’re providing a great Android experience at a bargain basement price. Just a few months ago people were claiming that we’d never get a $99 Android smartphone that was actually good, and it’s amazing how quickly things change.
What do YOU think?