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✨ Good morning! First a big welcome to all new subscribers. This is the place!

👉 Now, it’s Samsung Galaxy S21 launch day, along with the new Galaxy Buds Pro as well, all at the Samsung Unpacked event happening about 10AM EST, or about three hours after this newsletter goes out.

January 14, 2021
CES 2021 Top Picks Awards: The best new products and announcements

Android Authority‘s CES 2021 Top Picks Awards delve into the best new products and tech out of CES 2021, with the real awards normally handed out in Las Vegas also a virtual affair — but there’s still plenty on offer, and a couple of surprises.

Phones & Wearables

  • Best smartphone: Samsung Galaxy S21 series — no surprises for this series of phones winning big, tying in with CES 2021 this year despite a separate launch happening today
  • Best affordable phone: TCL 20 5G — offering 5G for €299 is impressive for a mid-range device, and TCL pushed its innovations and ideas pretty hard at CES.
  • Best mobile innovation: LG Rollable — we’ve seen rollable phones but LG is bringing this out this year, possibly at MWC 2021, scheduled for July.
  • Best new mobile tech: Samsung Exynos 2100 — a milestone release we covered in detail yesterday.
  • Best mobile accessory: Anker PowerWave Go 3-in-1 Stand
  • Best wearable: Mudra Band — this is an Apple Watch strap, but with built-in sensors and Bluetooth to add gesture controls to an Apple Watch.
  • Best budget wearable: Honor Band 6 — $35 gets you a nice display, 14-day battery life, 5ATM water-resistance, heart-rate and blood oxygen monitors — all for just $35.
  • Best wearable innovation: Quantum Operation’s wearable glucose monitor. Now this is something, potentially. I’m spending a bunch of words here talking about something you can’t buy, but this is interesting. As a continuous glucose monitor wearing Type 1 Diabetic myself, I’m pretty into the idea of non-invasive solutions for measuring blood glucose levels. The tech has always just been out of reach, though: it’s hard to be accurate without close contact, or bodily fluids involved. Google has been working on a contact lens, and Apple was reportedly attempting to add similar functionality to the Apple Watch, but we haven’t seen more than “confirmed reports” that Tim Cook was wearing a prototype, and that was in 2017.
  • Now, Japan’s Quantum Operations has built a working prototype of a non-invasive wearable glucose monitor, theoretically meaning much less finger pricks or needle-sticks needed to measure your blood sugar.
  • The device itself looks chunky and we don’t know a lot about accuracy compared to a blood reading, if it will be a medical device pending sometimes difficult to achieve approvals, or more a therapeutic device, and so on. Regardless, there’s some hope this Japanese company has the tech that has long been hoped for, and it’s good news for diabetics that it’s getting closer.

Other notable awards

A few others I picked out from our CES coverage:

  • Best TV: Samsung 110-inch 4K MicroLED TV — sure it’s $156,000, but it’s the very newest TV tech that will eventually reach mainstream.
  • Best TV innovation: Sony Bravia Core — a streaming service for new Sony Bravia XR TVs
  • Best laptop: Asus ROG Zephyrus Duo 15 SE — a gaming laptop with a secondary 14.1-inch touchscreen? Alright ROG, you have us interested
  • Best camera: None. Not a single camera was launched at CES 2021, telling us something.
V Moda M 200 ANC CES 2021 Top Pick Award

From our colleagues at SoundGuys, audio awards too:

One thought out of these awards and products across the audio spectrum I might expand on later: ANC is coming to everything, at all price points. Like MP3 players before this, it’s not magic, but there will be better and worse implementations (Twitter).

Roundup

💻 Let’s cover off the Galaxy S21 lineup leaks: First, the entire lineup is out there in these real-life images, and there’s detail on how the Galaxy S21 Ultra S-Pen case works (Android Authority).

🕳 Samsung’s first under-display camera might be coming to an OLED laptop, not a smartphone (Android Authority).

🔧 Google promises fix for Pixel 4a 5G touchscreen problems (Android Authority).

💰 Qualcomm just snapped up Apple’s A-series former chief architect and his CPU startup. Lots of implications around boosting Qualcomm’s chipsets here, the truly techy people are very excited (Android Authority).

🍎 Apple’s bigger-than-a-product-announcement yesterday was for new projects related to its $100 million pledge for racial equity and justice (TechCrunch).

🤔 The best tech of CES 2020: Where are they now? From dead to proof-of-life to people actually owning one. The biggest one out of CES 2021 you won’t see by 2022? That Samsung butler robot (The Verge).

NHTSA wants Tesla to recall 158,000 Model S and Model X EVs because a memory chip wears out prematurely which messes with the touchscreen display, and is almost certain to wear out 100% of the time, eventually. Tesla has the right to say no, and explain why, but the NHTSA can enforce it (Engadget).

CD Projekt Red CEO blames himself, not developers, explains “in-game streaming” is the problem for Cyberpunk’s last-gen console problems (Ars Technica).

🐟 Meet Bluebot: These adorable fish robots form schools like the real thing (Wired).

🎶 Pokémon is celebrating its 25th anniversary with …Katy Perry. Of course! (The Verge).

Throwback Thursday

21 years ago today: Bill Gates stood down as Microsoft CEO, elevating Steve Ballmer to the top job.

  • If you search for opinions on Steve Ballmer as CEO, you’ll get diverse views. He ensured Microsoft missed out on mobile, and social media, and condemned Windows to a period of mediocrity, some say.
  • Others, though, point at Ballmer allowing the Xbox to bloom as one of his earliest moves as CEO, and his moves into cloud computing has allowed Microsoft to boom again under Satya Nadella, who succeeded Ballmer in 2014.
  • Ballmer, among other post-Microsoft philanthropy and ventures like USAFacts.org, owns the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team.

Cheers,

Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.

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