Now a day and-a-half into CES 2019, we've had the chance to check out plenty of exciting innovations across all categories of consumer technology. It's impossible to both see and cover everything from the show. But here are some highlightsin a variety of product categories from what we've seen thus far.
Targus Mobile VIP Backpack
What makes a backpack exciting? Aside from a durable and attractive design, it's the features. And this one has a clever one. A built-in Qi wireless charging pocket includes a handy adjustable Qi charging cradle that you can simply place your phone in and let it charge. It also has an RFID blocking pocket, and a back pocket to hold a GPS tracker (purchased separately). Inside the laptop compartment is a sling hammock that allows for easy removal and insertion. There's also storage in the bottom for other essentials, a trolley pass-through on the back, slot for wiring through headphones, and sternum straps, with a pocket to neatly tuck them away when you aren't using them. It will be available in May for US$199.
Gore Lab X GazeTray
Wireless charging is a big trend at this year's show, And this neat device is a wireless charging mat that can wirelessly charge three devices at once, along with two more via USB ports (though it can only charge one smartphone at a time). It will come in nine colour options, including four in leather and one gold, and will be available in March for US$99.
Incase econNEUE Accessories
Incase has developed a new line of accessories, including laptop sleeves and organizers, that are made from environmentally-friendly materials that are biodegradeable and compostable, and FSC-certified. Proceeds from each purchase will go toward reforestation: for every tree used to make one of the products, two will be planted. The Icon Sleeve can hold a 13" laptop, and will sell for US$69, while the range of organizers in various sizes will sell for US$29-US$39.
Play Shifu Plugo
We've written extensively about the Play Shifu Orboot, an interactive globe that kids can hold an iPad up to in order to get more details about a particular region or body of water. The company has now expanded with another product in the AR space. It's a mat that works with various accessories to help kids learn about patterns, math, and other STEM topics. For example, use the physical building blocks in the Construction Kit to re-build a broken virtual water pipe on an iPad screen effectively so that water runs once again. Levels get more difficult each time, so kids of many ages and levels of understanding can play. It's US$50 per kit, or a pack of two for US$75. Each separate accessory kit, like the construction kit, hands-on math kit, adventure game kit, navigation play kit, and music learning kit, is US$35. It will launch some time in February.
Tech21 Mobile Accessories
Tech21 had a couple of really neat mobile accessories. The 5,000 mAh ChargePod (US$89) is a wireless charger that offers up to two extra charges of a mobile device, but it also comes with an option to pay US$10 more for the matching sleeve that can neatly hold both the charger and your phone.
The Evotype is a clever folio case for the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones that contains an NFC-enabled virtual keyboard that you can use with the phone oriented in landscape mode and propped upright. It draws minimal power from your phone so you don't need to recharge it. It's currently only available for those phones, but the company says it is looking into making ones for additional devices like the Samsung Note and Huawei phones. US$69.
Pocketalk Portable Translator
If you travel often to foreign locations where you might not speak the native language, or don't speak it fluently, this handy device will be a welcome addition to your travel bag. It's a portable translator that can translate two ways among 74 languages. Press and hold the button, say what you want to say, and the text will be translated and appear on the screen, while a voice will also dictate what you said. Pass the device to the other person, or hold it up to his mouth and do the same to translate the response. I had a conversation with the company rep as I spoke to him in English and he replied in Japanese, and it worked flawlessly. The device is US$299, but comes with two years of 4G connectivity, so you can use it anywhere in the world where there's wireless connectivity. After the two years expire, you can subscribe to a plan for US$50/yr., use your own SIM card, or just use Wi-Fi.
Qmadix Qi Magnetic Charger/Case
This concept Qi wireless charger works alongside a magnetic case so it magnetically attaches to your phone while you're charging so you can still comfortably use it without any messy cables or having to put it down on a surface. But what makes it extra convenient is that you can then, if you choose, also place the charger on top of a Qi charging surface and recharge it, with pass-through charging capability. It also has a Lightning connector and Type-C USB. It is targeted to sell in Canada once available for about $100.
LG Rollable TV
No list of exciting products from CES would be complete without a mention of LG's rollable TV, which was teased and shown in a back room last year, but is now on the show floor in the company's booth for all to experience. The 4K OLED TV is 65" in size, and boasts LG's new a9 Gen 2 intelligent processor. Cables are neatly hidden away, out of sight. The concept is simple: when you want to watch TV, the display slowly rolls up from inside of the housing. When you're done, and want a more open concept space, roll it back inside. The housing can also function as a standalone speaker when you aren't watching TV.
Wicked Audio Syver True Wireless Earbuds
The coolest thing about these earbuds is not that they're truly wireless - true wireless earbuds are a dime a dozen these days. It's that the Syvers (pronounced "sigh-ver) double as a tiny Bluetooth speaker. Listen personally by placing the buds in your ears, or pop them into the charging case and play back for all to hear. Both the buds and the case are water- and dust-resistant, and can run for up to five hours per charge. $129
Skyworth has plans to break into the Canadian market through a mix of retail distribution, both traditional CE and non-traditional - Canadian Tire is already a partner. The company offers a mix of television sizes and types, including the Great Waterfall 65" 4K OLED TV, as well as a selection of Android TVs that are as low as $499 for a 55" model. Differentiating in the TV market is a tough job, so in addition to offering "Tier 1 TVs at Tier 3 prices," according to Director of Business Development John Wiebe, the Chinese company, which has a U.S. office in West Covina, CA, also offers some unique designs. There's one that sis flush to the wall, for example, with a stylish clock on the bottom, right along an attractive built-in décor piece. Another has a 3D-look to it, with an angled bezel on the right side so it looks like the television is a cube, pushing out of the wall.
House of Marley Get Together Mini With Google Assistant
If you've seen and love the Get Together portable Bluetooth speaker, you'll absolutely love the adorable smaller version of the stylish device, which now includes Google Assistant capability. It can work both plugged into the wall, or wirelessly for up to eight hours when using Wi-Fi and 12 when using Bluetooth. It will sell in Canada for about $299 and, as with all Marley products, is made using sustainable materials.
JAM Audio Spun Out Turntable
Bluetooth turntables are an interesting market, helping introduce younger customers to the beauty of vinyl, while integrating the convenience features of wireless operation. This is JAM's first foray into the space, and the entry-level turntable will sell for about $129.
Sony's 360-Degree Audio Concept
We had the chance to experience Sony's 360-degree reality audio demo, both with a small speaker as well as with headphones on. The idea is to allow you to both see and hear music around you through a tool that calibrates the headphones to your ears. We used the Z7 Mark II headphones for the demo (US$899) and it was a truly mesmerizing experience, with sound that felt like it was coming from all over, not from a small pair of headphones. We often had to remove the ‘phones from our ears to believe that that's where the sound was coming from. This is the experience, by the way, that musician and producer Pharrell went to Tokyo with Sony to experience himself, and that he discussed during the company's press conference, urging them to release it sometime soon.
Smart E Mute
This clever device almost looks like an Echo Dot, but it's meant to silence one (and other Amazon smart speakers) when you want to have a private conversation. Rather than turn off the listening feature entirely, which sort of defeats the purpose of a smart speaker, just place this little device over the top of an Echo device, and it will mute it so it can't hear you. Set a time in 10-minute intervals for up to an hour, or simply remove it once you're finished your private conversation. It sells for US$25.
Como Audio Turntable
We first got acquainted with Como Audio last year, which makes stylish portable tabletop radios, including some with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. And now, the company is yet another to enter the turntable market with its own device. Scheduled for April availability for US$399, it will include both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Belkin Boost Charge Power Bank USB-C
This portable charging bank is small and lightweight, yet it can recharge a laptop, or any other USB-C device, thanks to its powerful 20,000mAh battery. Scheduled for availability in the Spring, it will sell for US$130.
Belkin is also getting back into the audio space with its own line of earphones. Scheduled to be available sometime in the summer, they will include one with a Lightning connector, and another will USB-C, and will sell for around US$40.
Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar
Sennheiser isn't just playing in the soundbar space, the renowned audio company means serious business with its $3,299 powered Ambeo soundbar, which contains 13 speakers, and does not require a separate sub. It can up-mix audio sources, and includes both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, as well as Google Chromecast and Google Assistant support.
It has become the photo-opp of the show: everyone wants a pic of, or with, the LG HomeBrew, a machine that can spew up delicious and customized mugs of homemade beer after just two weeks. It works with pods just like a Keurig or Tassimo coffee machine, except the pods contain malt, yheast, hop oil, and flavouring. There are several types available, and you can use a mobile app to monitor the status. Once done, the machine cleans itself.
Samsung Space Monitor
It's a really cool concept: a monitor that comes on an articulating arm so it can be pushed back to sit flush against the wall when you aren't using it, or maybe while you watch videos, then pull it out when you're ready to get to work. Cables are hidden discreetly in the base, so it's a totally clean set-up. It comes in a 27" size, and up to full 4K resolution. Check out our video on Facebook for a short demo.