THE FUTURE HAS LANDED
After a year of presidential lunacy in America, fake news, Russian meddling, hacking scandals, invasive apps, and the annihilation of our last shred of empathy on social media, who knows what hilarity human evolution has in store for 2018.
Maybe we should look to Black Mirror to predict events for the year ahead. Charlie series, could have harvested story ideas at this month’s Consumer Electronic Show (CES) trackers for horses and underpants that protect wearers from smartphone radiation.
Alongside 8K TVs and concept electric cars, there was a CX-1 smart suitcase that follows its owner at 7mph using camera recognition. Whether or not the suitcase will tire of trailing you in a busy airport, and piss off to a robot bar instead, remains to be seen.
Halfway through CES, a power-cut left attendees bumping into each other in the cavernous convention centre. Technology changes lives – just don’t bet your life on it.
Alongside the talking toilets and robot dogs, smartphones didn’t get much of a look in at CES. 2018 promises a number of notable launches, including a new handset from HTC, Apple’s iPhone 9, and the next iteration in the Samsung series.
Chinese tech company Vivo have sent smartphone manufacturers racing back to the drawing board with its new Vivo phone, which features a fingerprint scanner built into the screen’s display, rather than using a traditional fingerprint button.
Sony is launching three smartphones in its Xperia series: XA2, XA2 Ultra and L2. Each phone features a camera that can shoot 8MP selfies at 120-degrees. The wide angle allows you to include more environment, friends (and photo-bombers).
Red, which produces cameras for film and television, is releasing its first phone. Red Hydrogen has a 7” screen with holographic display modes. Hydrogen might be the lightest element on the periodic table, but the cost of these phones weigh heavy.
2018 is shaping up to be a big year for cameras. From the new and innovative ( Google Clips, an AI-powered, 12-megapixel camera) to updated versions of professional DSLRs ( Canon EOS 5D X, Nikon D5S). One notable announcement at this year’s CES was Panasonic’s Lumix GH5S hybrid mirrorless camera, which delivers the best video image quality in a Lumix camera. GH5S shoots 4K 60/50p recording in Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160).
Razer might sound like a hardcore band from Palo Alto, but the brand is one of the more innovative computer manufacturers on the market. After sculpting eye-catching PC desktop gaming rigs and triple-screen laptops in the past, Razer has unleashed a laptop powered by a mobile phone. Razer’s Project Linda is unlike traditional Intel-powered PCs. The laptop features a docking port for a Razer Phone. Slot the phone inside, then use it as a touchpad for the laptop’s 13.3” display. This concept laptop features a backlit keyboard, a built-in power bank to charge the phone while ported, and 200GB of internal storage.
Acer has Frankensteined a laptop as thin as a smartphone. Ace Swift 7, which measures 8.98mm in girth, has a 1920 x 1080 res touch screen display. Factor in an Intel i7 processor, 8GB RAM and 256 storage, and this spindly devices (out in April) punches above its weight.
Acer also flaunt an updated Chromebook 11 at CES 2018.
Other tech brands have slimmed for January. Dell reckon that its new XPS 13 is the smallest 13” laptop in the world. The edge-to-edge screen has a 4K display, ditching the USB-A socket in favour of three USB-Cs. The XPS 13 comes with Intel’s latest 8th Gen Core i5 and i7 quadcore processors, and has between four to 16GB of memory and up to 1TB of storage, depending on which version you choose. Dell reckon the laptop has 19 hours of battery time: a contender for best travel laptop of 2018 perhaps?
HP is making rivals, um, envious of its Envy laptops. HP Envy x2, unveiled in Vegas, is a laptop-tablet 2-in-1 concoction, powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835. The device will be available in 4GB/128GB and 8GB/256GB models.
HP’s other convertible, Spectre 15x360, hits the shelves in March. This laptop-tablet hybrid features a 15.6” touchscreen 4K display and supports HP’s tilt pen stylus. You’ll get 13.5 hours out of the battery, according to the marketing people in HP, and the device’s Fast Charge technology brings the juice back 50 per cent within 30 minutes.
Other brands dropping devices at CES 2018 included Lenovo, who announced the Snapdragon-powered Lenovo Miix 630, portable
2-in-1. LG, meanwhile, kept up with this year’s slimming fad with its new range of LG Gram laptops.
Tech trends come and go. 2018 promises to be the year of the virtual assistant. Right now, Google appears to be leading the way with Amazon and Apple in hot pursuit.
Last year virtual reality headsets made everyone look like we were auditioning for a job in Daft Punk. VR still has a grip on our retinas as HTC releases a new Vive Pro for 2018, updating the original version with built-in headphones and an improved display resolution. Lenovo’s Mirage Solo doesn’t require a smartphone. The tech is built-in.
After wowing audiophiles in 2017 with products such as the BeoPlay P2 portable bluetooth speaker, B&O Play is back in the saddle this year with H9i headphones, featuring enhanced noise-cancellation and a proximity sensor that turns off music when you remove the cans from your skull. B&O is also launching Google Assistant speakers in
LG and Sony are also bowing at the feet of Google’s Assistant. LG with its Smart ThinQ speaker; Sony with a range of in-ear headphones that support Assistant.
Meanwhile, Sony is spitting up an earful of Dolby with its new range of soundbars, HTZ9F and HT-X9000F, for surround cinema-esque audio.
Samsung also plans to make sweet music with its NW700 Sound+ soundbar.
LG’s new OLED and Super UHD LED TVs will be equipped with voice recognition and cater for Google Assistant. Other boxes on display at this month’s CES included Panasonic’s FZ950 and FZ800 new OLED models, available in 55 and 65-inch sizes. Samsung is rumoured to be dropping (not literally; they’re not The Rolling Stones circa 1972) an 8K television later in the year. Meanwhile, Bravia is launching its A8F telly.
Now that toilets, kettles, windows and wash basins are being integrated with smart technology, we can expect our devices to start conspiring against us in 2018. This year heralds an avalanche of products that jump to attention when we bark orders. Samsung’s WW6850N washing machine cleans clothes 35% faster than its rivals. Hive View, a smart indoor camera, offers peace of mind. You can set up this camera to live-stream your home while you’re out, accessing the camera (and its recorded history) through a Hive app. The camera detects intruders, but sadly won’t electrocute them like R2D2.
In a sign that the robot revolution is still in its teething stages, one of the highlights of CES 2018 was when LG’s VP of marketing tried to illicit a response from Cloi, LG’s home-helping robot. The digital butler, however, remained tightlipped and non-committal.
WITH PAVEL BART ER This page top: the Vive VR headset it with the best.
Opposite page top: the Razer Project Linda and below, B&O's headphones