CES, the world's biggest technology show, recently wrapped up its 2018 edition in Las Vegas. The giant electronics trade show is a yearly showcase of the latest gadgets. It’s also a chance for companies to demonstrate some of their crazier concepts, which may never actually be developed. Below is a brief look at some of the highlights from this year’s show.
At CES, the TV reigns supreme. So far, 2018 is proving to be no exception to this unwritten rule. Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic have lugged their premium screens to Vegas and OLED is the flavor of the show – as well as overwhelmingly large screens.
So far, LG has led the way with its prototype of a 65-inch rollable OLED screen. It has also announced its future TVs will incorporate voice assistants and captured early headlines by announcing an 8K TV.
Samsung has debuted what it is calling a modular TV. Called 'The Wall' the 146-inch display is made up of micro LEDs and the firm claims "consumers can customize their television sizes and shapes to suit their needs". Samsung also says in the second half of 2018 it will be releasing an 8K QLED TV that uses artificial intelligence to adjust the screen resolution based on what is being shown.
Elsewhere Sony has launched the Bravia A8F. The TV has a virtually bezel-less screen and comes in 55 and 65-inch versions. When put on sale later this year it will support 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision. Panasonic added two 4K OLEDs, the FZ800 and FZ950, to its lineup.
Laptops & Tablets
Despite their dominance, CES isn't just about TVs. Ahead of the show, Dell announced its new XPS 13 laptop, which comes with three USB ports, one of Intel's latest generation process and the possibility of a 4K screen. Not to be outdone, LG also pre-announced its new line of LG Gram laptops in three different screen sizes.
Meanwhile, Samsung has revamped its Notebook 9 and Notebook 7 Spin. And Acer has also refreshed its Swift 7 laptop, which it claims to be the thinnest in the world, at 8.98mm.
Asus is updating a couple of its laptops, including the ZenBook 13, which is claimed will have a 15-hour battery life. Also being announced is the ASUS X507, a portable gaming laptop with an Intel Core i7 CPU. Outside of the laptop world, Asus also announced the Chromebox 3, a tiny desktop PC that runs Chrome OS.
Dell's latest laptop, the XPS 2-in-1, now comes in a 15-inch size and has a keyboard that utilizes magnets. Using the resistance of the magnets, the firm says it can control the feel of typing. It has also announced a new app that allows notifications from iOS and Android phones to be shown on its laptops.
Google Appears At CES
For the first time, Google has a public presence at CES. It usually sends along an army of staff to explore what's being shown and conduct business meetings behind the scenes but this year it's stepped out of the shadows. In part this is because of its hardware push – launching the Google Home, Pixel 2 and Pixelbook in recent months – but mostly because of its Google Assistant being integrated into other products.
Google continues its push into VR. Partnering with Lenovo and Yi, the companies announced standalone VR headsets. These don't require a mobile phone to run, include head movement tracking and work on Google's Daydream VR platform.
Elsewhere, Android Pay and Google Wallet have been merged into one system, Google Pay, and it has also introduced its Assistant to Android Auto.
The web giant also announced that Google Assistant will work on home assistant devices with screens. This allows a Google-powered Echo Show to be created. But Google hasn't made one of these devices itself (yet), but Lenovo has launched one.
What About Cameras?
Despite the world's media descending on the Las Vegas Convention Center, however, the photographic industry has decided to keep a very low profile this year. The one big announcement has been Panasonic's Lumix GH5S hybrid mirrorless camera, while Nikon paraded an exotic super-telephoto 180-400mm zoom lens that costs about the same as a decent used car.
We perhaps shouldn't overlook the Lenovo Mirage and Yi Technology DayDream VR180 cameras, although while they certainly look fun they don't quite stir the photographer inside us. And that's been about it in terms of new technology.
But it didn't always used to be like this. It was only a few years ago that our inbox would get clogged up with a multitude of CES camera announcements, while those on the ground at the Convention Center would spend our time dashing round trying to make sure we saw everything and everyone they needed to see.
Admittedly, many of these camera announcements were entry-level compacts, but CES has also seen some big camera launches in recent years. Nikon has used the show to announce the likes of the D3300, D5500, D4, D500 and D5, while Canon unveiled the PowerShot G9 X Mark II, Fujifilm the X-Pro1 and X100S and Sony the Alpha A5000.
From a photography perspective though, CES has been on a bit of a slide in recent years. The writing was on the wall when the Photo Marketing Association's (PMA) imaging technology trade show (which was also held in Las Vegas) was incorporated into CES and rebranded as PMA@CES starting 2012.
While the big guns like Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung would show off their latest cameras at their vast stands in the Convention Center, others would opt for small booths and meeting rooms instead, while the PMA itself was tucked away at the nearby Venetian hotel. But 2015 was the last PMA@CES, and now the event has disappeared completely, getting swallowed up by the juggernaut that is CES.
Factor in how the photo market has shifted in recent years, from everyone having a smartphone, a multitude of high-volume, low-cost compacts as well as more premium models with longer life cycles, and it makes sense that there's now a distinct lack of "camera news" at CES.