Wednesday, January 20, 2016

CES 2016 review

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show happens at the beginning of the year in Las Vegas.

I'm presenting some pointers here.  But of what?

Just Not Interested
CES 2016 had a number of product categories and innovations that I have no interest in at all.  So

- Really cutting edge and ultimately expensive kit  (the 50K USD pair of headphones, so what!)

- Virtual Reality
Just so totally not interested!

- Drones
Still a developing technology, making great advances.   But you are buying mostly toys, or at the super high end (thousands of dollars) a short range working mobile camera platform.

- Cars
Exhibitors seem to have forgotten that the NAIAS Detroit Auto show happens on Jan 14.  WTF were you thinking exhibiting CES? Come on.

- Smartphones
Mobile World Congress MWC in February is the place for Smartphone announcements.  I did not expect and did not receive any high end launches here.

Analog Nonsense

I made comments about Analog already. See this post

What was I looking for?
- New Notebooks
- New Storage
- Fitness trackers, but for athletes not noobs
- Personal Transporters
- Genuine Innovation

Gaming Laptops

If you are a power user like Marcus who had NO interest in gaming but wants an Ultra powerful laptop then a gaming laptop might be for you.

Why?  Because Gaming laptops traditionally incorporate powerful desktop (not mobile) Intel CPU's  which you want, large memory and storage which you also want.  Unfortunately they also come with programmable key lighting  (WTF?) and super fast gaming graphics  (nice, but surely that costs money right?).

For Marcus, besides the Power I'd also like a 17" screen. 

Razer Laptops
Lenovo Y700
Gigabyte Aorus X7DT

Personally I'm of the view that maybe these new devices might make room for price cuts in existing lines.  For example from Gigabyte

Bragi Dash Earphones

Bragi Dash

At last there looks like 2 wireless earphones that work together and actually work (well).   That's the rumour.  I already reviewed my daily single earphone here.  The Dash is going to be a 300 USD stereo replacement.  Yikes! Even more expensive than Jaybird, and that is saying something. (Jaybird announced the Freedom of course) 

A more reasonably priced alternative is the Altec Lansing Freedom launching 2016Q2.

Memory Cards
Sony introduced some higher speed XQD and SDC memory cards of upto 128GB and write speeds upto 150MB/sec.

Faster Disk

As a catchup, M.2 disk is now freely available (at last)!  Don't even think about buying a new motherboard that does not have support for a PCI Express 3.0 x4lane  M.2 2280 long slot disk.  Ideally choose a motherboard with 2 such slots. With NVME  you should aim for a motherboard and M.2 disk that can  achieve over 2GB/sec read and over 1GB/sec read.

QNAP NAS Storage

For Marcus, in the Network Attached Storage  (NAS) market for consumers only Synology and QNAP produce worthwhile products.  Others are so far behind I won't discuss them here.

QNAP did announce some new products.

- TBS-453A Miniature NAS
Using M.2 storage.  Currently it's totally nonsensical, because if you want the ultimate M.2 performance the last thing you would do is put it outside your computer in a LAN attached network storage.  Ridiculous. And Costly  (when populated too).  

If they had added M.2 cache slots to existing models, that would have been worthwhile.

- TS-x53A models
Models like TS-853A, an 8 Bay NAS running Linux and capable of hosting modest virtualisation clients, and with 4 LAN interfaces.  Not new, but recently announced and shipping only recently.  A good platform.

- Some high end TDS Dual CPU NAS, e.g. TDS-16489U

My best source of SOHO Storage and Networking announcements is always Smallnetbuilder.    CES 2016 coverage

Android on X86

Android runs on your non Intel x86 smartphone, but wouldn't it be great to run a version on your Intel PC also?  This is what Remis OS attempts to do.

I tried it, and so far,  not impressed!   But don't let my thumbs down stop you.   Download and try it here yourself, for free.

Sony At CES
Sony at CES

For me good and bad.  No changes to the A7 Full frame cameras as expected.  The FDR-AX53 prosumer camcorder was disappointing to me, maybe it will push down the FDR-AX33 price to acceptable buy levels.  They had updates to action cams.  See DCR & I'd like one!

Sports and Fitness

I'd recommend checking DC Rainmaker's CES 2016 coverage.  It is very complete.

Apart from the Bragi Dash notable for me was:

Garmin Fenix3 HR - includes HR monitor on underside over regular Fenix3
Under Armour HealthBox


The Swiss company micro were exhibiting a lightweight electric scooter.    E-micro one

If you actually use a push scooter today you'll realise that weight is one of the defining aspects that makes a scooter usable or just a heavy not so funny joke.  E-micro is under 8Kg and that is really light.  Since it is Swiss; the price is a steep 700GBP  (1000 CHF/ USD ).

CNET reviewed this and the other scooters at CES here.

Never Going to Work!
Personally, I have a small and finite budget.  And I don't get the luxury of freebie review units.  So my selection of misses at CES 2016 includes:

- Samsung Internet Fridge.
Too expensive and limited application.

- Nextbit Robin cloud Phone
Because storing programs in the cloud instead of locally on an SD card makes bugger all sense.  Doomed.

- ASUS Zenfone Zoom
I'm quite an ASUS fanboy, but this was launched over 6 months ago but never shipped.  Now the camera game has moved on and it's dated before it even launched.  It joins the ranks of the like to Panasonic CM1 as a camera fail.

And finally

Ripple Maker for Coffee

What I like to see.  Actually released 6 months ago, but hit the big time at CES.  A relatively simple technological product, that is a little wacky, but rather cool, and would really add to my coffee drinking experience .... a custom latte printer for coffee houses.  Excellent.

For 2017?
Given the quality of produce (mediocre) we feel lucky that Marcus and Agata did not splash out to attend the 2016 Las Vegas CES.  We are already saving up for perhaps Las Vegas 2017, or if you wanted to sponsor us, send us to CES Shanghai  this May?



Verge CES 2016 videos

Anandtech CES 2016 writeup CES2016tag
Toms Hardware CES 2016

Nextbit delay