CES Roundup: Embrace your various digital overlords

The Acer Iconia is one of the better tablet alternatives to Apple's iPad. Credit: Acer
The Acer Iconia is one of the better, cheaper tablet alternatives to Apple’s iPad.
Credit: Acer

CES, also known as the Consumer Electronics Show, has come and gone. The gadgets have all left Las Vegas and headed home. The public relations professionals, corporate spokespeople and tech dorks are sleeping off casino-sized hangovers. What the heck happened? Were there any iPhone-like announcements or was it all just a bunch of sad Segways? Let’s find out.

1. Is that a smartwatch in your pants or are you just happy to see me?

Nearly every company on the planet is betting you are gonna want to own a smartwatch in the coming year. These, uh, intelligent timepieces are essentially smartphones you wear around your wrist. Why would you want something on your wrist when another, more powerful thing rests a mere two feet away in your pocket? Convenience! Those half seconds spent reaching add up, after all.

In all seriousness, some do bring new stuff to the table. The Razer Nabu tracks your vitals, including exercise (or lack thereof) and sleep in addition to sending text messages and receiving phone calls like a regular Dick Tracy. The Pebble Steel marries the high-tech perks of the already released Pebble watch with a grown-up form factor.

2. Wait, now there’s something better than HD?

Feeling like a badass because you just bought a fancy superthin HDTV for your living room? Think again: 2014 is the year of the 4K, or Ultra HD, television. These bad boys show four times the pixels of that old hunk of junk hanging on your wall. Don’t you want to live inside of the pock marks on Edward James Olmos’ face as you rewatch “Battlestar Galactica” on Netflix? Of course you do.

Sony, LG and Vizio are all rolling out these fancy-pants sets. Speaking of fancy pants, you had better be the sort that own many pairs of them because 4K don’t come cheap, with several costing many times more than 4K. LG’s 84-inch model costs $17,000. Cool!

3. Wait, now televisions bend and curve all over the place?

In something straight out of “Minority Report” — although you could say that about most technological advancements — Samsung has rolled out a line of curved and bendable HDTVs. Why would anyone want this? If you have a big enough living room, and a big enough TV, you could bend and curve these things until your home feels like an actual movie or IMAX theater. All you’ll need to complete the experience are some annoying Coke ads and an industrial sized tub of buttery product.

Samsung has said these will be available later in the year, although it has not announced a price point. Don’t worry. They’ll probably be super expensive.

4. There were also a bunch of really cheap tablets that nobody will buy because they aren’t iPads

You may not know this, but other companies make tablets using a little known, yet serviceable, operating system called Android. These mythical beasts do pretty much everything an iPad can do, and some things better. (For my money Google’s voice activation tech is leagues above Siri.) These unicorns of consumer technology were out in full force at this year’s CES, with Acer and others announcing some super cheap models that clock in at $129 or thereabouts. Sure, they get some of the cooler games late but it’s not like you play anything but “Temple Run 2″ anyway.

5. Sony is now officially our collective babysitter

Sony pulled the lid off of its hotly anticipated PlayStation Now service, which lets you play PS3 games, well, pretty much anywhere. The service lets you play select PS3 and PS2 titles on tablets and supported televisions and all of your PlayStation-branded gadgets. The future is now, people! Wait, the PS4 is already out and that is miles above the PS3. The future that is also sort of the recent past is now, people!

6. Screw useful gadgets. Let’s get real weird with it.

CES wouldn’t be CES without a whole bunch of weird junk that you’ll never buy but makes for great Facebook fodder. Do you want to live in a paranoid Orwellian present? Grab yourself an eyeLOCK, a USB retina scanner. Do you want to pamper your pups, techy style? Get a VOYCE, the world’s first high tech dog collar. It lets you keep track of what good ole Benji has been up to throughout the day.

All right, everyone. Show’s over. Go home and take a nap.


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