CES: The Main Halls


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Smartwatches

A topic that, a few years ago, was somewhat choice limited, but has gained in ability and popularity, is smartwatches. Smartwatch offerings that are not limited to using a specific brand of smartphone have been somewhat limited, but now, the vast majority of the more capable smartwatches will work in partnership with any smartphone. Further, some no longer need to be tied to a phone to make or receive a call.

A few years ago, smartwatches and fitness trackers were separate categories, each with a specific focus. But as each has evolved, the lines have blurred. Prices also now vary from under $50 into hundreds of dollars, and the capabilities vary depending on the focus of the design. Of course, all of them tell time, and most of them will provide notices of incoming texts or emails, but some also focus on exercise and fitness, and others will also track medical conditions. Some can provide an almost instant cardiogram in addition to blood sugar levels.

There are many brands available, but the top choices as of January 2020 based on BestReviews are, in order, the Samsung GearS3; the Apple watch, which would be ranked number one if it worked with other ecosystems; the ASUA ZenWatch; the Fitbit Versa; and the Motorola Moto 360. I also had the opportunity to look at many others, and one brand I would consider is Garmin, who has a wide range at all price levels. In addition, Fossil has shown an ever-improving line of smartwatches at the last few CES shows. Their line is extremely good looking, and their abilities are very impressive.  

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The point is that smartwatches are here to stay. I know that for the last few years, my dress watches have stayed in my drawer. There are so many ways to know what time it is, but trying to do without all the features of my two-year-old smartwatch would be like a teen leaving their smartphone home.

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Televisions

Over the last 10 years, we have seen TVs go from HD (1080P 60Hz), which now is common and low end, to UHD 4K. All of that was at CES about a year before it became commonly available. Yes, there were some TV trends that were being touted as the next big thing. Remember 3D TVs from just a few years ago? Now, you cannot even get one, and I do not believe there are any more 3D program sources.

This year, there were amazing TV resolutions up to 8K. 2018’s 4K TVs are now selling for a fraction of their original price today. 8K screens are amazingly lifelike (not that 4K is not) and have extremely high refresh rates. Some of the larger ones are selling in the $50K range, but we all know what happens to TV prices as the volume increases. Here is a forecast from TV Technology. My question regarding 8K—or 4K, for that matter—is the availability of the bandwidth needed to transmit programs or videos at this ultra-high resolution. However, the same thing was said about 1080P and even color TV back in the day. If there is a demand, a way will be found.

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The most impressive showing this year was Samsung's Wall MicroLED TV, which was 292 inches, making it the largest TV seen at CES. For something slightly smaller, the display comes in 88-, 93-, 110-, and 150-inch sizes. There were very impressive offerings from Panasonic, Sony, LG, and TCL, as well as some very nice offerings from companies that most of us have never heard of. 

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