Granted, it wasn’t a regular Consumer Electronics Show (CES) – the annual mecca to Las Vegas every January to kick the tires on new tech – as several exhibitors and journalists (including yours truly) decided to cover the show remotely because of the surge of omicron cases and related travel challenges.
But the 55th CES still managed to impress with several hundred products that debuted this past week – both in person (albeit to a reduced turnout) and virtually, for those not in Sin City (like last year’s online-only CES).
CES serves as a glimpse into the near future of consumer electronics trends. It’s the show that launched such pop culture products as the camcorder and CD player (1981), DVDs (1996), HDTV (1998), DVR (1999), satellite radio (2000), Xbox (2001), Blu-ray Disc (2003) Smart TV (2005), tablets (2010), driverless cars (2013) and 4K UHD TVs (2014), to name a few.
The following are a few CES 2022 announcements that caught my eye. I’ll focus on gadgets and gear, to be fast-followed with an article on automotive tech coming down the road.
► Talking Tech newsletter: Sign up for our guide to the week’s biggest tech news
Arcade1Up Infinity Game Table
Arcade 1Up has enjoyed success over the years with its line of retro game cabinets, those 3/4-sized arcade machines featuring classics such as Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man, as well as countertop and sit-down head-to-head models and virtual pinball tables.
Arcade1Up’s newest gaming experience is the Infinity Game Table (from $699), a touchscreen tabletop featuring classic board games that can be played by up to six people. This includes games, such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleship, Candyland and Trivial Pursuit, among others, using your fingertip on the 24- or 32-inch water- and impact-resistant high-resolution display. Haptic feedback means you will feel a slight tactile vibration when, say, rolling the dice or sinking a battleship.
If you want to play on your kitchen table or living room’s coffee table, the Infinity Game Table’s legs are removable.
Because it’s Wi-Fi-enabled, you can play against others around the world or purchase new games that can be downloaded from an online store.
Moen Smart Faucet with Motion Control
Moen isn’t new to touchless faucets, but its latest model, Moen Smart Faucet with Motion Control, is reminiscent of an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” in which Capt. Picard asks the replicator for a hot cup of Earl Grey tea.
Like some other Moen models, this kitchen faucet lets you wave your hand in front of the sensor to start and stop the flow of water; you can control temperature using gestures in the air, too.
If you have an Alexa- or Google-enabled smart speaker nearby, you can ask for a specific temperature and amount of water. Place a pot underneath the faucet, and ask for two cups of hot water. There’s also an app to create pre-sets, like “coffee maker,” “dog bowl,” or “baby bottle,” with desired amounts and temperatures. Baking enthusiasts can even request precise measurements.
It will debut this spring, but Moen also chose CES to show off some sleek-looking models without handles at all, coming in late 2022.
► CES 2022 reveals: Samsung Galaxy 21 FE, Zoom-friendly laptops
The world’s largest OLED TV from LG
A day before the show, LG Electronics took the wraps off the world’s largest OLED TV, at 97 inches. In a word, wow.
If this 2022 G2 series TV is too big for the wall you’d like to hang it on, the company also unveiled an 83-inch model, to complement its existing 55-, 65- and 77-inch TVs in this class.
As you likely know, OLED (pronounced “oh-led”) screens are incredibly thin and light (making them easier to mount) because each pixel is its own light source, therefore no backlighting is required. Along with sharp color and unprecedented contrast ratios (including super dark blacks), these televisions are more energy-efficient than other TV panel types and enjoy wide viewing angles.
These LG models are smart, too, with the latest webOS 22, which introduces personal profiles and NFC Magic Tap (for mirroring a mobile device screen to the TV), as well as room-to-room share, which can mirror content from one TV to another in the home.
A 2-pound portable projector from Samsung
Samsung, however, unveiled the Freestyle, a portable projector that weighs less than 2 pounds, so it can be used to splash a movie on your ceiling (thanks to its 180-degree cradle stand) or beamed onto a wall (or the side of a tent while camping), up to 100 inches. Samsung says it also has 360-degree sound and far-field voice control.
On a related note, Samsung introduced its eco-friendly TV remote that doesn’t require batteries, as they added a solar panel to charge up using the sun (if, say, near a window) or regular lights in a family room. For 2022, the South Korean tech giant is adding the ability to draw in power using radio waves from devices in the home, like a Wi-Fi router.
Speaking of TV, Atmosphere – a leading cable alternative that provides free streaming TV for businesses – chose the 2022 CES to announce its partnership with TikTok, adding the trendy social platform to its existing roster of content partners like America’s Funniest Home Videos, Red Bull and X Games.
Atmosphere says it has 20 million monthly unique viewers across doctor’s offices and gyms, bars and restaurants and currently streams 250,000 hours of content a day from both owned-and-operated channels, like Chive TV and Happy TV.
► TikTok at Taco Bell? Streaming deal brings videos to restaurants, more
Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 laptop
Innovative new laptops are raising eyebrows at CES.
The unique Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 features an industry-first 17.3-inch ultra-wide, 21:10 aspect-ratio primary screen along with an 8-inch secondary display to the right of the keyboard. For example, you can be engaged in a Zoom call on the main screen but jot down notes with a digital pen (included) on the smaller display.
Or a digital artist may use the 8-inch side screen as a palette and the primary screen as a canvas. An accountant or bookkeeper, on the other hand, may choose to transform the 8-inch touchscreen into a giant calculator. The smaller screen can also mirror your smartphone screen.
This multitasking marvel should be out in May 2022, starting at about $1399.
Like many of the Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 may also include Privacy Guard (reduces visibility at side angles) and Privacy Alert (which alerts you with a shield icon on the screen if the webcam detects someone peeking over your shoulder)!
ASUS’ bendy Zenbook 17 Fold LED
Versatility was also demonstrated by ASUS with its Zenbook 17 Fold OLED, also a 17.3-inch computer but it’s a flexible panel that can be folded in half (when, say, putting it away), opened full-screen to use like a tablet with fingertips or via the Bluetooth keyboard (included) or bended bent slightly while held like a book.
When it ships in 2022, the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED will have a stereo quad-speaker sound system certified by Harman Kardon and supporting Dolby Atmos.