It’s the last day of CES, and as all the vendors prepare to break down their booths, close up their parties, and go wearily home, we here at The Verge are looking back to see what was new, surprising, or weird — and offering you our opinions on what worked and what didn’t.
We bring roundups of the best laptops, the biggest Google Assistant products, and the greatest Amazon Alexa products. We look at the long-anticipated arrival of Wi-Fi 6, and discuss why you’re not going to see it in your home for some time yet. We discuss Apple’s new embrace of the TV industry, and why it’s okay that there aren’t any revolutionary advances in the look of laptops.
And even now, there are still some cool and crazy gadgets to play with, such as a real-life beauty filter for your skin, robot dogs that deliver packages (and do a little dance when they’re done), and a smart shopping cart.
So join us for this, the final day of CES, and help us celebrate all the tech news that has come out of the Las Vegas festivities.
Jan 17, 2019
You’ve most likely seen some iteration of the image above before, in overreaching tech concept videos preaching the possibilities of the collaborative workspace of the future. It’s easy to brush off these imaginings because they’re still just photoshopped images depicting what seemed like a distant reality. But after having tried Wacom and Magic Leap’s prototype collaborative design tools, I can say that these renderings are a pretty accurate representation of what I experienced.Read Article >
The Wacom and Magic Leap partnership was first announced at the inaugural L.E.A.P. developers’ conference held last October, at which the two companies showed a prototype workflow experience that had been in development for two years. Wearing a Magic Leap One headset connected to a Wacom Intuos Pro pen tablet, designers can use the separate three-button Pro Pen 3D stylus to control their content on a platform called Spacebridge, which streams 3D data into a spatial computing environment. The program allows multiple people in a room to interact with the content, with the ability to view, scale, move, and sketch in the same environment. The goal is to provide an intuitive design sharing process for designers working with 3D models across a variety of industries, from automotive and industrial design, to film and video games.
Jan 15, 2019Read Article >
Verge editor-in-chief Nilay Patel chats with August CEO Jason Johnson about smart locks and the challenges of integrating various technologies within a smart home. They discuss whether every company needs to be a data collection company, and why it’s so difficult to be a hardware company in tech.
Jan 15, 2019
Today, I want to tell you about a really good bag with a really terrible name: Douchebags’ $179 The Backpack. The product of a Swedish company that serves a side dish of sophomoric attitude with its bags, The Backpack is intended to be your do-everything, go-everywhere workhorse bag, and it succeeds at that lofty challenge with aplomb. I’ve used it for a month and a half now, including during the grueling week of CES events, and I have to declare this my favorite backpack yet. After a decade of Kata, Manfrotto, Peak Design, OnePlus, Waterfield, and assorted others, this is the bag that now most closely matches my personal and professional needs.Read Article >
Despite the silly brand name, Douchebags picks its materials with a serious commitment to quality. The Backpack is made of hard-wearing polyester on both the inside and outside, and it conveys an immediate sense of quality. The YKK zippers travel smoothly and easily, and they’re decorated with some whimsical pull tabs. Parts of the exterior have a leather-like appearance, but that’s just for looks.
Jan 14, 2019
Here are some sensible prejudices I have about earphones: if they’re dressed up in a frilly design or lustrous colors, if the only claim their packaging can make is “party for one,” if they cost less than $20, and if their maker is a company that’s never previously made headphones, I tend to assume they’re going to be bad earphones. TCL’s newly released SOCL earbuds tick every single one of these dubious boxes, and yet... they sound absolutely terrific.Read Article >
The $14.99 SOCL300 come in a tiny cardboard package that could be mistaken for a packet of pills. They’re so damn disposable, in fact, that TCL was giving them away to attendees of its CES keynote. My colleague Chris Welch brought back a pair from the event and asked me to give them a listen without specifying why. I dutifully did so, and then we both struggled to comprehend how TCL managed to squeeze so much sonic performance into such a tight budget. Seriously, these earbuds sound at least 10 times as good as their price and basic nature would lead you to believe.
The smart home market is still up for grabs. Unlike PCs or phones, which, for the most part, are dominated by a few well-known names, smart home gadgets can come from wherever and whatever brand. As long as they perform functions you can’t get from the big names, people will continue to flock to them.Read Article >
You can stick with mainstream options like Philips Hue lights or a Nest thermostat, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the fun thing about building a smart home is that after choosing an ecosystem (like Alexa, Google, or Apple’s HomeKit), you can mix and match a ton of products. At CES 2019, the variety only expands. Let’s get into some of our favorites and why they stand out above the competition.
Amazon’s Alexa has become the household name when it comes to smart assistants, but its ongoing fight with Google Assistant is getting more difficult than expected. Products can support both Alexa and the Google Assistant, and since smart home companies want to sell products to as many customers as possible, Alexa has been getting fewer and fewer exclusive victories.Read Article >
Google used its massive presence at CES this week to send a message that it has bigger plans for the Assistant, too. Even at other companies’ exhibits, Google deployed employees dressed in white clothes and Assistant-themed hats to talk visitors through the features it could provide on third-party devices. It also launched a new interpreter mode on Google Assistant that’s being piloted at hotels in Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco.
This year at CES, I noticed more of two things: portable, on-the-go tech that makes vlogging easier, and vloggers. There were gimbals and selfie sticks aplenty as people filmed themselves walking around on the show floor, making content for their own personal audiences.Read Article >
Looking at the wealth of cameras, lighting rigs, and artist devices, they all seemed to be encouraging the notion that anyone can become a “creator” just by posting a video on YouTube, or creating art to be shared online. I know tools don’t make the artist, but coming across these new products, I felt a stir of excitement and aspiration. “Should I become a YouTuber?” I asked myself, before shaking away the impure thoughts.
Jan 11, 2019
Elon Musk told the world in late 2017 that Tesla was taking its automotive know-how and applying it to a totally new challenge: self-driving big rigs. But one year later, he placed the Tesla Semi fourth on a list of priorities for the company, behind the upcoming Model Y compact SUV and an electric pickup truck. This week, Daimler executed a move many years in the making by announcing its own big rig (albeit diesel-powered) outfitted with semi-autonomous technology. And others are following suit.Read Article >
The German automaker also committed to manufacturing the truck this summer, with deliveries scheduled for later this year. It pledged 500 million euros over the next few years to the continued development of an autonomous big rig, and said it has hired hundreds of employees to move the tech forward. And just like it did when it unveiled the prototype version in 2015, Daimler gave us a ride in the truck to get a taste of what the near future of trucking will look like.
If there’s one thing that can be relied upon to steal the show at CES year after year, it’s TVs. The technology powering the biggest screens in our homes might not move as quickly as it does for smartphones or smart home gadgets, but their sheer size means that it’s very impressive when it does.Read Article >
CES 2019, like every CES for the past half a decade, has been filled with 8K TV announcements. New for this year are models that you’ll actually be able to buy, but that doesn’t mean you actually should. The amount of native 8K content out there is still frighteningly limited, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future unless something fundamental changes about the costs of shooting and editing 8K footage.
The Bocco Emo has a funny name that might remind you more of your moody teen years, but there’s actually a sneakily useful device behind its cute, simple design. It’s a communication robot that relays voice and text messages to keep in touch with family members who don’t have phones, and it connects via Bluetooth to toy block-like sensors that can monitor temperature, motion, and home activity.Read Article >
The “Emo” part of its name comes from the robot’s ability to “express empathy,” as its makers describe it. When reacting to positive messages, its cheeks glow green, and it nods enthusiastically with happy chirping sounds. For negative messages containing words like “tired,” its cheeks light up red, and it’ll put its head down and make a sad whining noise. The robot can respond to a user’s presence and voice as well, and it can also interpret messages based on emoji.
Apple made a critical change to HomeKit two years ago. It started allowing products to join its smart home ecosystem just by adding some code, instead of requiring them to build in a special-purpose chip.Read Article >
The effects of that change have been slow to appear, but we’re finally starting to see them. The result is a lot more HomeKit products since it’s now far easier for companies to build support into new products, and old products can be updated to add support, too.
USB-C is still a long way away from achieving its potential, but at CES this year, we started to see what a richer USB-C future might look like. We saw “portable” monitors that were able to take both video and power from a connected laptop, we saw docks featuring all of the connectors that have been stripped from USB-C laptops, and, of course, we saw USB-C headphones.Read Article >
Getting everyone on the same page when it comes to USB-C adoption has somehow proven to be exceptionally challenging, whether it’s popular products that refuse to ditch Micro USB (yes, that means you, Kindle) or others that have plunged us into dongle hell by switching to it wholesale before the ecosystem exists to support it. Going USB-C-exclusive will remain the preserve of the dedicated for a little while longer, but these new devices show we’re getting there.
Jan 11, 2019
Above all else, CES is about new TVs. The week we spend in Las Vegas every year is a showcase for the present and the far-off future of home entertainment. CES 2019 was no different, and there’s a lot that’s got me excited for the year ahead and beyond. But 8K, the biggest TV trend at CES yet again, still feels like a fantasy that’s not making much progress towards becoming a living room reality. The very best of what was on the CES show floor had nothing to do with resolution.Read Article >
That’s not to say 8K TVs aren’t a real thing. They very much are: you can buy one from Samsung today for around $5,000, and there are plenty of other options. This year at CES 2019, we’ve seen a whole new wave of them from Samsung, Sony, LG, and many other companies. But the idea that anyone should buy an 8K TV is just sheer stupidity. They’re marvelous to look at up close, yes, but the stuff you’d actually want to watch — your favorite movies or Netflix / Amazon Prime shows — just isn’t there. None of it. And there’s no real evidence of that changing anytime soon.
Jan 11, 2019
There are so many devices that need to be charged, but not all chargers are created equal — especially when it comes to speed. CES 2019 featured a few exciting announcements for wireless chargers, powerful fast chargers that take advantage of GaN (gallium nitride) to shrink down in size, and even car mounts. To get a better grasp of the evolving charger market, we decided to round up the best new charging gear so you can figure out what your next charging setup should be.Read Article >
Apple’s AirPower is still nowhere to be seen, so Griffin announced a charging dock that could fill in the gap. Its PowerBlock Wireless Fast Charging Pad is a 7.5-watt Qi charger with a spot for both an iPhone and an Apple Watch, and it’ll go on sale within the next couple months for $79.99. An iPhone-only version was also announced.
Jan 11, 2019
CES is perhaps best known for its spectacle, the grand showcase of the products you’ll likely never see outside of CES, much less ever purchase.Read Article >
This year, things were a little different on the CES show floor. Sure, there was plenty of spectacle and dumb stuff — one just needs to see the toilet with Alexa to affirm that — but there was also a lot of useful iteration on the ideas we’ve been seeing at CES for years. Instead of crazy new technologies, convoluted buzzwords, and concepts that will never come to fruition, we saw more actual products that people will be able to purchase and use over the coming year.
Wi-Fi is starting to go through a generational change, the kind of big upgrade that only happens once every five years or so. But while this faster new version of Wi-Fi has shown up inside plenty of routers across the CES show floor this week, it’s had a poor showing in the one place that really matters: our actual computing devices.Read Article >
Only a handful of laptops — and no smartphones, tablets, smart home devices, PCs, or other gadgets that we’ve seen — have been announced this week with support for the new generation of Wi-Fi. That means that, even though you can go out to the store today and buy a next-gen Wi-Fi router, very few devices can actually take advantage of its faster speeds.
You’re never going to be the tall, willowy model with perfect skin whose hair always dazzles in slow motion as you spin it through the air — because there’s no slow-motion cameraman following you around, if for no other reason.Read Article >
But though many beauty products promise seemingly impossible results, there may actually be a magic wand you could wave to restore some of the natural-looking beauty of your skin, according to attendees at CES 2019.
Jan 10, 2019
The biggest surprise of CES this year came from Apple, a company that didn’t give a keynote speech, didn’t have a booth on the show floor, but nevertheless dominates the show year after year from afar. A bunch of TVs from Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio will support AirPlay 2.Read Article >
It was a surprise because none of the announcements leaked, sure, but it was also a surprise because it ran completely counter to the way things usually go at CES. It also ran counter to the way things usually go with Apple. But even though nobody seemed to see it coming, it was also — at least, in retrospect — inevitable.
VLC, the open-source video player app, is announcing two major milestones from CES today. The development team, Videolan — along with Jean-Baptiste Kempf, one of the lead developers — told Variety at CES that it’ll be adding AirPlay support, allowing users to transmit videos from their iPhone (or Android) to their Apple TV.Read Article >
The update could be released for the primary VLC app in “about a month,” for free. However, VLC tells The Verge there’s no specific release date yet:
Jan 10, 2019
Germany automotive firm Continental is best know for its tires, but at CES 2019 the company is demonstrating something a little different: package delivery by robot dog.Read Article >
As part of its research into the future of mobility, Continental has partnered with robotics company ANYbotics (a spin off from ETH Zurich) to imagine the future of package delivery. In a staged demonstration on the CES show floor, the firm showed how one of ANYbotics’ four-legged robots could jump out the back of a self-driving delivery truck and carry a package right up to someone’s front door.
Jan 10, 2019
It was on Android phones first, then it came to smart speakers, and now Google Assistant is compatible with everything from TVs to showers. In fact, Google’s voice assistant is now so popular that the company recently announced that it expects the feature to be installed on a billion devices soon.Read Article >
That number is 10 times bigger than the 100 million Alexa devices that Amazon recently announced have been sold. But Google is counting millions of Android phones where people may not actually be using Assistant. The bigger question is: what kinds of devices are coming with Assistant on board as a key feature? This week, we’ve seen a bunch of new ones.
Jan 10, 2019
Voice assistants are being integrated into every part of our daily lives, from smart speakers to home security and bizarrely, even to toilets. Google said it expects its Assistant to be installed on a billion devices soon, and Amazon recently announced that more than 100 million devices with Alexa have been sold.Read Article >
So Amazon’s number isn’t a billion (it isn’t on millions of Android phones, after all), but support for Alexa continues to be built into more and more products, thanks in part to the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit launch last year, which gives developers APIs and technical documentation to make gadgets that can pair up with an Alexa device.
Jan 10, 2019
CES offers an early look at where laptops are going in the year ahead, from flashier designs to more impressive specs. This year, the changes are a lot more subtle than usual, and that’s actually a good thing.Read Article >
There are a few practical reasons for the subtle changes. First, Intel’s delayed 10nm chips and AMD’s slow recovery means that there’s less room for bigger improvements. Meaningfully faster, more efficient laptop processors simply don’t exist for manufacturers to use. There’s also that fact that laptops are approaching the limits of how thin we can reasonably make them. And then there’s the lack of pressure from Apple. Its MacBooks used to set a high bar for Windows competition, but they have recently taken a back seat to the company’s iPhones and iPads when it comes to hardware and software innovation.
The Alienware Area-51m is trying to deliver on a dream: a gaming laptop with user-upgradeable CPUs and GPUs like a desktop so it won’t become obsolete. (At least that’s the plan; check out our feature story.)Read Article >
But as you might expect, the most premium parts won’t be cheap. Alienware’s configurator page now shows that a fully kitted Area-51m — complete with a bona fide 8-core Intel Core i9-9900K desktop processor, Nvidia RTX 2080 mobile graphics, and a 144Hz screen — will cost $4,000 today. That’s too rich for me.
This year’s CES was full of laptops that looked like last year’s, but there were more than a few interesting exceptions. There’s been everything from GeForce RTX-equipped thin gaming laptops to AMD-powered Chromebooks to 17-inch desktop replacements with swappable CPUs. To cut through the deluge of announcements, we’ve rounded up what we think are the best laptops from CES 2019 so you can get a look at the tech that’s arriving in the year ahead.Read Article >
The Alienware Area-51m is unlike any other desktop replacement laptop. You can swap out the GPU and the desktop CPU, which is a practically unheard-of practice when it comes to laptops. The Area-51m also represents a newer, cleaner design language for Alienware that will hopefully rub off on its competitors. The Area-51m’s starting price is set at $2,549, with sales beginning this month.