CES 2021 rocks
The best new product at CES(an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester, NV) was not a 100 inch, 16K HDR OLED TV. It wasn’t an outrageously thin laptop with 5 screens. No. It was Razer’s Project Hazel, a color-shifting iridescent face mask with replaceable N95 filters and a voice projector. It looks fashionable, and if Razer does make it, most likely extremely popular. The trend of cleanliness and protection from the elements was a stark change for the show that usually excels in display technology and fragile prototypes.
This adaptation away from giant TVs and paper-thin laptops was a testament to the fluidity of the switch from a physical show in a large convention center to a digital show that has to fit a multitude of screens and stay interactive. And then there’s COVID and mask tech. Razer wasn’t the only one to jump on the mask hype train; we also saw the Maskfone, a bluetooth speaker mask, and the AirPop Active Plus, a mask that monitors breathing.
It’s no secret that Zoom benefited from the pandemic. However, the program could use some refining. The design is counterintuitive and lacks flair or pizazz. It also has a multitude of security problems and anyone, even a supermodel, looks somewhat warped in the tiny rectangular grid. Two computer makers have engineered computers specifically to make Zoom life better. For example, the HP Dragonfly Elite Max, which has a 5 megapixel front camera—that’s crispy! For reference, the latest MacBook has only a 1.2 MP camera with a 720P resolution, which is technology from 2007.
However, not all new technology is necessarily good. LG proudly showed off their rollable phone, which is an odd decision given that foldable phones are back on the market. These types of phones are much better than rollables, which will give a weird feeling in your pocket, having extremely blurry screens and are extremely expensive to repair. Plus, a rollable phone is going to take twice as long to check notifications than whipping a screen out and reading what’s on it.
While Apple usually doesn’t make an appearance at CES, it usually makes the news for something that Samsung debuts here, which was blatantly obvious this year. It announced Samsung Smart Trainer, which copies Apple’s Fitness+ service announced earlier last year. There’s no need to describe it because it is exactly the same as Apple’s service.
It’s hard to find many things that haven’t been digitized yet. Blenders and pans today require wifi, refrigerators have screens, and doors have digital locks. But wait — what about the doormat? It has no app, no connection, no digital element. Not anymore; Alarm.com’s Video Doorbell reduces potentially infectious finger contact: the doorbell is activated by a doormat, which sounds like a good idea, except it’s quite rudimentary, which means that whenever a newspaper lands on the mat, the doorbell sounds. Soccer ball rolling across the street? Doorbell. Gardener walking across the porch? Doorbell. If someone steals the doormat, it removes the security element. Not a good idea.
It’s safe to say that this year was easily the most interesting year for CES. Being cooped up in a house forces some great ideas to be pushed out. While all of them aren’t perfect, they are all unique in some way. That’s something CES does well, whether in person or on screen.