TechLife Australia

CES 2018 round-up

WE’VE DONE THE HARD WORK FOR YOU, EXPLORING EVERY PART OF THE ANNUAL CONSUMER ELECTRONIC­S SHOW IN LAS VEGAS TO BRING YOU OUR DEFINING LOOK AT THE YEAR AHEAD IN LAPTOPS, WEARABLES AND TRENDS IN TECH.

- [ THAT NEW TECH FEELING ] [ SHARMISHTA SARKAR & HARRY DOMANSKI ]

TRENDS THE BATTLE OF THE VOICE ASSISTANTS

Last year saw Amazon’s Alexa take over CES, with the voice assistant integrated into home appliances and cars that were on display at the tech show in 2017. This year, Google Assistant entered the fray — whether it was the first 4K projector with Alexa or an entirely new family of smart display products housing Google Assistant, CES 2018 served as a showcase for voice assistants. Only Siri missed out on the party, though Apple’s assistant tends to be more of a lone wolf, anyway. Google and Amazon both recognise that, if they want the voice assistants everywhere, they need to be integrated into everything. And that’s exactly what it was like at CES 2018 — from smart home devices to AV products and AR glasses, Alexa and Assistant fought for supremacy.

HOMES WILL GET SMARTER

Connected smart home gadgets aren’t new. They made an appearance last year at the show, and Google Home has been officially available in Australia for a while now. Some of us might even have smart lights at home. This year, home automation started to become mainstream. Practicall­y every home product on display had a voice assistant integrated. Samsung and GE made connected kitchens seem like a normal home setup, a smart bathroom setup a with voicecontr­olled shower (which plays music and lights up as well), smart home hubs to keep all your connected gadgets working smoothly, even smart locks — it looks like the homes of the future are just around the corner.

WIRELESS HEADPHONES GO MAINSTREAM

True wireless headphones (ie. earphones which don’t have the cable connecting one bud to the other) made an appearance at CES 2017, but with Apple’s AirPods becoming popular, headphone manufactur­ers scrambled to bring out their own versions, many of them catering to fitness fanatics. Considerin­g that most phone makers are ditching the headphone jack, Bluetooth headphones are now a huge part of the consumer market at affordable price points. Companies like Sony, Jabra, JBL and Audio Technica showed off new ranges and, of course, the voice assistants weren’t far away. Jabra equipped its new Elite range with Alexa, while Google Assistant partnered with JBL’s latest headphones. There were even buds that would help improve your hearing.

MONSTER TVs THAT MOST PEOPLE WON’T BE ABLE TO BUY

At a time when most of us haven’t even upgraded our old TV sets to 4K, 8K could seem like a bit of a stretch. But there were gigantic TVs just waiting for plump wallets to stroll in and pick ‘em up, at whatever the cost may be — expect five figures, easy. The showstoppi­ng 146-inch Samsung TV called The Wall made its debut at CES this year. It’s a microLED screen made up of pixels that produce their own light. That means individual pixels can be switch off to customise contrast. LG wasn’t about to be overshadow­ed — the South Korean company not only unveiled its latest range of OLED TVs (including an 88-inch 8K version), but showed off a 65-inch rollable panel. Sony, Hisense and Panasonic also unveiled their new OLED TV ranges catering to the mainstream market.

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