Highlights from CES technology show 2013 in Vegas, baby, Vegas…

If Vegas is the city of gambling, then CES, the world’s largest consumer electronics trade show held there annually, is its mighty roulette wheel. An important event in any techie’s smartphone calendar, 2013 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) took place last week and is where the latest in innovative and exciting new technologies and gadgets are discovered and fed into shops worldwide. I had the pleasure of visiting the show to check out the latest tech news and report back here.

To say the show is immense is an understatement. If you think that London’s Ideal Home show has 600 exhibitors, CES actually has 3,250 exhibitors across 1.9 million net square feet, launching some 20,000 products. Trying to navigate through the crowds leaves you spinning like a roulette ball.

But who doesn’t love a gadget? And it was well worth the trip to seek out the hottest in home technology for the coming year. Apple and Microsoft – the mummy and daddy of the tech industry – weren’t ‘officially’ exhibiting at the show (and neither were the aunties and uncles for that matter – think Google and Amazon), but they were present in many of the latest gadget software and accessories seen at the show. Novelty gagdets included the Ecovac’s Winbot - a robotic window cleaner – and the iPotty for iPads – that doubles up as a potty trainer and tablet stand for kids. Hmm. In the way of ‘need-THAT-in-my-life gadgets’ there were lots of stunning tablets, cameras, laptops, smartphones and TVs on display too. Here are a few key themes and buzzwords you can expect to hear mentioned this year:

‘ULTRA’ HD TVS

A sight for sore jet-lagged eyes were the many ‘Ultra’ HD TVs on display (also referred to as UHD or 4K). These screens are four times the resolution than the current Full HD 1080p TVs we’ve just got used to in the shops and in our homes, with the big names in tech – Sony, Samsung and LG – all launching models. For more on Ultra HD TV, click here.

[Above: Samsung showed Ultra HD TVs in a range of sizes at CES from 85inches and up]

CURVED OLED TVS

For the home, both LG and Samsung claimed to launch the ‘world’s first’ curved OLED TV at 55inches. Both have OLED displays that look incredible with better contrast and colour. The subtle curve makes you feel surrounded by the action to give you an IMAX-like viewing experience (but only if you’re sitting in the right spot really). Design-wise it will look slick in an awkward corner of your living room. But who really is the first to launch this tech? The one that can deliver a TV to market with a price we can all afford I say.

3D PRINTING

This exciting technology lets you print an object in its entirety, such as a napkin holder or a pair of sunglasses. It’s expensive for the consumer but prices are coming down with brands such as Makerbot and Cubify 3D Systems all displaying models at the show.  It has got to be seen to believed – so click here to watch a short video from CES of 3D printing in action.

TABLETS AND PHABLETS 

There were touchscreens in all shapes and sizes at CES from Lenovo’s IdeaCentre Horizon coffee table, to Panasonic’s 20-inch 4k tablet, the latter of which runs on the latest Windows 8 platform and is aimed at architects and designers.

A gadget that particularly caught my eye was the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1, which has protective casing and can withstand being dropped on the floor and even stood on. It was fun getting feisty with that! Ideally robust if you’ve got a curious toddler threatening to snatch it away from you…

[Above: Panasonic's Toughpad FZ-GL tablet]

You can also expect to see more ‘phablets’ in 2013 too – a touchscreen device that bridges the gap between a tablet and a smartphone.  Samsung, ZTE and Huawei all have impressive designs.

WIRELESS SPEAKERS

Also popular at this year’s show were stylish speakers that wirelessly connect to your smartphone, computer or tablet and make it easy for you to listen to your music at a range of about 10 metres without any connecting cables. We’re going to be spoilt for choice when it comes to design – from Pure’s retro pop colours to Cambridge Audio’s sophisticated and contemporary models.

TALKING CAR STEREOS AND 21ST CENTURY WATCHES 

Self-driving cars, such as the one from Audi that can be summoned by your smartphone, were a talking point at CES, but there’s still a long way to go before we’re all driving around like Knight Rider. David Hasslehoff’s tan is achievable however with the right pot of L’Oreal Sublime tanning lotion.

At this year’s CES show, voice-control car stereos were looking good. The latest technologies mean that while you’re driving you’ll be able to search for music by voice, text by voice and for the avid Facebookers among us, there’s a model by Alpine that will let you know when you receive a message and read it out to you. Speaking of Facebook, the Pebblewatch is definitely one to, well, watch too. It connects to your iPhone or Android smartphone and will alert you to texts and emails and lets you know when you have Facebook messages. Like!

For a round up of 10 great home gadgets from 2013 International CES show, click here…

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Emily Peck, Editor

View all posts by Emily Peck, Editor