Well, another year of CES has come and gone, and it’s time to take a look at what amazed and delighted in the showroom.
GM Unveils the Bolt
GM fired the first shots with the unveiling of its Chevrolet Bolt, a more “economy” class electric vehicle with an MSRP of $37,500. Sweetening the price-point was eligibility for a $7,500 tax credit, effectively reducing the cost to a more reasonable $30,000. With a 200 mile range on a full charge, the Bolt boasts an effective range competing with the Tesla, at less than half the price. Certainly this competition can only benefit us as consumers, and early reviews were impressed with the spaciousness and build of the car. Chris Zeigler at The Verge said it best in his review –
“I need to stretch the Bolt’s legs before I issue a fleshed-out opinion on it — but I had enough laps to get the sense that this is a very unremarkable car on the road. And I mean that in the best possible way: GM is trying to make a car that real people want to buy. This isn’t a parlor trick, it’s not for speed freaks, it’s not for tech nerds (well, maybe it is — more on that in a bit). The Bolt just needs to feel like a good, usable, everyday car that happens to be fully electric.”
The Chevy Bolt will be available in late 2016 according to their newly launched website. We will be watching this space closely.
Faraday Future Wows With Stunning Race Car Concept
Faraday Future, a company that’s barely been around for two years, made waves at CES this year when it unveiled a striking model of an electrically powered race car. Dubbed the “FFZero 1”, this sleekly designed vehicle boasts a mind numbing 1,000 horsepower electric engine, and can reach top speeds of over 200 MPH. Those who are keeping tabs on Apple’s oft-rumored car nicknamed “Titan” have wondered aloud whether or not Faraday Future is a shell company for Apple’s research and development towards this project. We suppose that time will tell, but in the meantime, this prototype sure is nice to look at. We could see it on the market as early as 2017.
Toyota Provides A Glimpse At Hydrogen-Powered Cars With FCV Plus
While companies like Tesla, BMW, Nissan and GM take strides forward with electric-powered cars, Toyota threw its hat in the ring with a decidedly unique-looking entry. The FCV plus utilizes hydrogen fuel cells to generate its own electricity, so that not only could it power itself, in the hydrogen-powered future that Toyota visualizes for the world, it would be a mobile generator as well. While Toyota might not take home “Best in Show”, they certainly win the award for “Most Creative”. I would say let’s focus on making electric cars a reality before we move onto the next “big thing”.
Samsung’s Notebook 9 Pushes The Limits On “Thin and Light” Craze
A sure-fire way to track the evolution of technology is to take a look at how much tech we can pack into ever-shrinking frames. Portable phones used to be carried around in suitcases, or have an antenna large enough that it could pick up local FM radio stations, computers used to take up whole rooms, SD cards used to store 128 MB of data, not 128 GB. Laptops have gone down a similar path, now packing more power in a computer thinner than most smartphones. Samsung’s Notebook 9 is the latest iteration of this craze, packing enough power for most consumers into a cleanly-designed and lightweight frame. While many question the ability for such computers to ultimately take over the market due to their continued lackluster specs (you won’t be editing video or doing high end gaming on these notebooks), there certainly seems to be some lasting momentum behind it.
OLED Influence Spreads
In the battle for better and brighter screens, OLED is making some important strides as it was revealed to be built into a number of new systems at this year’s CES. Lenovo, Alienware and Samsung all featured systems with OLED screens, and while it does add some additional cost to the systems, the quality is hard to miss. OLED, which stands for Organic Light Emitting Diode, is superior to LCD in that each pixel generates its own lighting, whereas standard LCD screens are all lit from behind with one large light source. This extremely fine level of lighting detail allows for much more vibrant colors and sharper overall displays, an essential benefit for photo editors and graphic designers, and of course a much-appreciated feature for gamers as well. As OLED technology advances, we can be sure to see them disseminate in the wider market.
Oculus Rift Steals The Show – Pricetag Dashes Hopes Of VR Dreamers
Since the Oculus Rift first appeared on Kickstarter in August of 2012, gamers everywhere have dreamt of a future where Virtual Reality gaming is commonplace. In the 3 and a half years since its inception, Oculus has been on one hell of a rollercoaster: being acquired by Facebook for a staggering $2 billion, setbacks and challenges in its development…and just last weekend they announced that their first generation of consumer Oculus Rift VR headsets are going on pre-sale. The announced price of $599 dismayed many, as the added caveat was that one would require a relatively powerful PC to run the necessary software for the Oculus Rift to work properly. As a result, many are concerned that VR gaming is still nowhere near the mainstream. Adi Robertson at The Verge lamented that the $600 headset heralded the “End of An Era”, as the original promise was a VR headset for everyone, and at this point it has been reduced to a “One Percenter’s Toy”. Still, despite its high pricetag, one can only hope that it will spur forward giants such as Sony and Microsoft to make steady advances in virtual reality hardware, and perhaps one day soon the dream can become a reality.
The Smart Home Grows Closer With Smart Appliances and More
Smart homes took some significant strides at this year’s CES. While consumers were enthralled with products such as the Philips Hue or August Lock in years past, this year featured a number of impressive smart appliances that gave us a much more in-depth view of what the smart home of the future might look like. Samsung’s smart fridge, for example, lets you take a peek in the fridge from anywhere through its wireless app. Not sure if you have enough milk for your recipe? Fire up the app and take a look for yourself. Find yourself tossing food out because it goes bad? The new smart fridge will alert you when food is nearing expiration. Amazon also made a strong showing this year with its AI system named “Alexa”, which powers their current TV accessory, the Amazon Echo. Consumers can issue voice commands to Alexa to make changes within the home such as adjusting the temperature or turning certain lights on or off. While Google didn’t have a strong showing of its own smart home products, their products, Brillo (smart home accessory software) and Weave (language that gets smart home accessories to communicate with each other), were buried within a lot of the products featured at CES. We may not be living in the “homes of the future” just yet, but this year’s CES has me excited for what lies in store.
That’s it for our CES 2016 roundup. Feel free to sound off in the comments if there was something you saw/read that’s got you excited!