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Latest TVs, laptops and more at this year's CES
January 15, 2017, 2:42 pm
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While Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG and other big-name tech vendors were busy launching their latest products to the masses thronging the floors of CES 2017, lesser known names were equally eager to try and make a mark at the annual technology extravaganza.

While there can be little doubt that it was a TV gala this year, there were plenty of great smartphones, laptops, PCs and other gizmos to admire, including cameras, drones, robots, monitors, smart home device and more at this year's Computer Electronic Show in Las Vegas.

In no particular order, here are 11 highlights from CES 2017, covering everything from big name reveals to a few wild cards that really impressed the crowds.

LG's Signature W OLED TV is an absolute stunner

It was arguably LG that stole the show at CES 2017, showing off a slew of new high-spec sets, not least its amazing new LG Signature OLED W7, which the company describes as the “lightest, thinnest, and most beautiful TV on the planet."

Measuring a wafer-thin 2.57mm, it's a true "picture-in-wall" telly, as LG has chosen to describe it, and will come available in 65-inch and 77-inch models running a new version of LG's custom TV software, webOS 3.5 – generally regarded as the best on the market. Pricing and a release date have yet to be confirmed

Sony joins the OLED party in style

As expected, Sony finally joined the OLED party at CES 2017, announcing its first 'proper' OLED TV, the AE1 Quite apart from being an OLED TV, which is awesome; it has a 'unique' way of producing sound. Instead of speakers or a soundbar, which is the common way many slim TVs give you sound, the AE1 literally vibrates the TV panel to produce sound.

In other words, the sound comes straight from the screen, which comes in 55-inch, 65-inch, and 77-inch models. It was arguably the most exciting TV to be launched at CES 2017.

Wireless HTC Vive is a VR game-changer

There were rumors of something big coming out from HTC at CES 2017, and the company did not disappoint. It significantly bolstered its Vive range with a slew of new accessories to play with, not least the semi-mythical TPCast-designed add-on that makes your HTC Vive VR experience completely wireless.

The company also launched a bunch of new software, most notably the world's first VR subscription service, which it claims will be "Netflix for virtual reality."

Samsung launches its 'QLED' TV range

At CES 2017, Samsung launched its new class of 'QLED' TVs. There are three new high-end sets coming in all: the flat Samsung Q9F, curved Q8C, and the Q7, which is available in both flat and curved models.

The QLED range replaces Samsung's SUHD TVs as the firm's flagship line, with the new models set to be available in four sizes: 55, 65, 75 and 88 inches.

Pricing and a release date have yet to be confirmed, but we understand the new QLED sets are likely to start shipping to select regions in March 2017.

Asus ZenFone learns to Tango

Handsets aren't front and center at CES like TVs are, but 2017 produced a few interesting new phones, not least the Asus ZenFone AR. Asus in fact unveiled two new mobiles, but while there is plenty to like about the ZenFone 3 Zoom, it was the firm's augmented reality effort that really stood out, as it is just the second phone to integrate Google's Project Tango AR tech.

It also supports Daydream VR, and while Asus' insistence on adding a truly hideous skin to Android Nougat hinders the overall experience slightly, the new Asus device was a genuinely exciting draw, which is no small feat given the cavernous size of products on display at CES.

Honor 6X is the latest wannabe 'flagship killer smartphone

While a new Tango phone is important for bringing AR technology closer to being a part of our day-to-day lives, the most immediately accessible new smartphone that broke cover at CES this year looks like the Honor 6X from Huawei sub-brand Honor.

The mid-ranger, which is set to retail for US$250, features above average overall specs, with one major exception – the dual-camera configuration found on the back. At present, this is the kind of feature that's normally only found on high-end handsets, which is a good thing, because some of the other key talking points are less positive.

Namely, the 6X's dull design does not quite fit with Honor's strained, and at times, frankly embarrassing efforts to appeal to teens and millennials. But two cameras to Insta with, and a price point that the Bank of Mum and Dad will approve of; surely all can be forgiven.

Dell's 2-in-1 XPS 13 – the best Windows 10 laptop made even better?

Jumping the gun, Dell announced a major refresh of its XPS 13 laptop on the eve of CES 2017. Fast forward and it's still one of the clear standouts from the show.

The new XPS 13 is a 2-in-1 convertible designed to rival some of the devices in Lenovo's Yoga range and features a touchscreen display – Full HD and QHD models will be offered – plus a foldable hinge that allows you to use it in a variety of positions.

It will come packing the latest Intel Kaby Lake architecture (Core i5 or Core i7) and offer two USB-C ports, with a provisional release date of 5 January.

USB flash drives enter a whole new dimension

For an appreciation of sheer guts at CES 2017, look to Kingston, who, amidst the slew of snazzy new TVs, high-spec laptops, and shiny smartphones, announced a USB stick at CES. Except it is not just any old USB stick it is a big USB stick. A monster 2TB USB flash drive that is now the world's largest device of its kind.

Alexa steals the show

Virtual assistants were everywhere at CES this year, but it was Amazon's Alexa that stole the show by popping up in a bewildering array of devices including fridges, cars and robots.

Manufacturers are clearly interested in making their appliances voice-operable, and many see Alexa as a great way to do this. But having Alexa also allows the appliances to gain capabilities, such as streaming music and turning smart lights on and off.

Amazon was quick to notice the potential of voice control following the rise of smartphone apps that could interact with appliances. Manufacturers are able to design new 'skills' for the assistant - meaning the AI is not limited to what Amazon has built in. Alexa can, with a quick bit of programming, be adapted to lock car doors or tell you when your washing machine's cycle will finish.

Perhaps this is how Amazon has cornered so much of the market - by explicitly designing a flexible AI that allows companies to implement it as they see fit.

However, it bears remembering that though Amazon is not quite as global a company as Google or Microsoft - the online retailer does not have a website for countries in Scandinavia, the Middle East or Africa, for example. And not all implementations of Alexa make the assistant easy to access, nevertheless, it was the first voice assistant to turn up in a compelling consumer product, the Echo speaker, rather than just on a smartphone.

Although Google Home has now joined the fray it is clear who's in the lead. Across CES, you can hear Amazon's creation at work.

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