The smart way to CES: Focus on the good stuff
You could wade into the CES trade show like some people wade into an all-you-can-eat buffet, gobbling every pluggable doodad in sight, waddling out the other end feeling slightly ill and not remembering what you saw. Or you could be strategic, zero in on the things that matter most and still have energy to vsit some great nightclubs or try your luck at the slots.
That's what we do at PCWorld and TechHive when we come to CES: We scope out the most innovative PCs and components, the smartest home gadgets, the coolest drone or robot, a futuristic car or two.
Watch this space for daily news on the most compelling things we've seen at the show. For now, we'll whet your appetite with the things we can't wait to see.
Haier R2-D2 Moving Refrigerator
Listen, kids, I know a crowd-pleaser when I see one. I don’t care that the R2-D2 Moving Refrigerator costs more than $8,000 in Japan. This 1:1 scale replica of everyone’s favorite astromech droid features licensed RD-D2 sound effects; projects Miracast video content through a 720P laser projector; and keeps up to six 350ml cans nice and frosty in its bleeping-and-blooping tummy.
So, yes, I’m looking forward to seeing this R2 unit spin 360s as soon as the CES doors officially open on Wednesday. What else am I going to gawk at—dishwashers? —Jon Phillips
It’s finally time! After years of teasing, prototypes, and previews, we’re going to lay eyes on final and near-final versions of consumer virtual reality headsets at CES 2016, as well as the content you’ll experience through them.
Oculus will dominate a large booth at the Las Vegas Convention Center, where you’ll be able to try a wide range of demos. HTC’s promising a “a very, very big technological breakthrough” for its “room-scale” Vive VR headset. Both AMD and Nvidia are pushing VR hard in private suites, and a big chunk of the LVVCC’s South Hall is dedicated solely to VR/AR technology. VR peripherals will abound as vendors pitch the idea of navigating virtual worlds with the help of treadmills, bikes, and even controllers built for your feet!
Hardware’s nothing without software to use on it, though, and the explosion of VR content is almost as thrilling as the arrival of VR headsets. There are games a-plenty, of course—that’s a natural killer app for virtual reality. But there will be a slew of non-gaming content on display too, from exercise aids to 360-degree videos to virtual tours and, uh, VR porn. I’m not sure if I’m thrilled or terrified about that last one. —Brad Chacos
Skreens promises to combine the output of four HDMI sources and display them in independent windows on a single screen. You can use an Android or iOS app on a tablet to resize each window. The company promises zero lag, so you can watch sports in one window, monitor stats in another, play a game in another, and chat with a friend in the fourth.
I overlooked this product while its crowd-funding campaign was going on, but plenty of people found it: The company raised nearly $472,000 against a $25,000 goal. Here’s hoping it’s not too good to be true. —Michael Brown, TechHive
The cool stuff
Confession time: While I’ve helped on the backend of plenty of CESes past, this is my first time attending it myself. When I think back to previous shows, the legion of generic laptops and bizarre smart home stuff isn’t what pops into my head. It’s the crazy case mods. It’s the audacious reimagining of traditional desktops. It’s the futuristic kinetic CPU coolers. It’s the PCs that look like Star Wars spaceships.
That’s what I’m really looking forward to seeing as I trek across the country to my very first CES. The crazy things I have no idea are coming, ambitious endeavors that push technology to jaw-dropping new pinnacles. You know, the cool stuff. —Brad Chacos
I’m looking forward to seeing even more connected-home products than I saw last year. Market growth has been stymied by confusion over standards in the Internet of Things space, but I expect to see plenty of new products based on more settled standards, such as ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Bluetooth.
I think there will be a lot of excitement in the home-networking market as well. I’m sure we’ll see new products from the usual players—Asus, D-Link, Linksys, and Netgear—but suspect we’ll be hearing about some new players coming in with plans to shake things up. —Michael Brown
Surface clones run wild
First there was the Surface Pro, Microsoft’s premium Windows tablet, born to inspire other vendors’ tablets to do better. After a few rough years, however, the hardware (namely Intel’s 6th-gen Skylake CPUs), software (namely Windows 10), and other pieces have fallen into place, and it’s easy to find an interesting, innovative PC that isn’t necessarily that expensive. I expect to see many Surface-inspired clones at CES, including ones, like the ThinkPad X1 Tablet, that actually push the Surface to do better next time. —Melissa Riofrio
Faraday Future concept car
Faraday Future is emerging as the biggest tease of CES 2016. We know the mysterious California-based car company is preparing to unveil an electric vehicle to rival Tesla’s finest. We know Faraday has committed to building a $1 billion production facility in North Las Vegas. We know Faraday currently has 400 employees, and plans to start manufacturing—but perhaps not delivering—cars in 2017. But beyond that? We don’t know much.
In a just-released YouTube video, Faraday proclaims the vehicle is a “smarter car that says more about our hopes than our frustrations.” So, basically, it’s self-important four-wheeled allegory. That runs on electricity. And is created by rich technocrats for rich technocrats. The world will find out more on Monday night. —Jon Phillips