Sunday, February 05, 2017

CES 2017, Part 1

Today Agata and Marcus again jump back exactly 1 month to January 5th 2017, to  cover the events of day 1 of CES , the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas

What is CES

(It's really really huge)

CES is a large trade show that happens primarily in Las Vegas, North America in January of each year.  At this show the latest announcements and pre-announcements in Consumer technology for the Home,  Electronics and Computers are announced for the coming year.

Well actually; there is also CES Asia in June in Shanghai, which I am sure many people will argue that is where the real cutting edge announcements are made. Beyond the scope of this posting!


If you followed the plot so far (starting here) you will recall that we came to the US to primary visit and cover CES.  However we could not justify just CES so we've already packed in some sports activities, and stay with us, there is more planned post CES.

Yesterday we picked up our rental Motorhome and got it to Circus Circus.  Yes, this Casino on the strip has an RV park and no other is closer.  To repeat, if you stay in any other park you have further to commute into the Exhibition halls each day

Some Criteria
During the next few days we'll give you some honest opinions about the best things we saw at CES.  So why should you be interested?

- Our views are independent
- We looked at what was interesting and best Engineered
- We provide links and concise summary
- We might also report on ridiculous products that might become successful but we'd beg you not to buy because they are pretentious/ expensive/ pointless etc.

And So:

First Steps
Having registered some months ago, and then having had your credentials accepted, since this is a Trade show, the first thing is to get your Visitor Badge.  This has your name and title and a 3D barcode that can scanned by exhibitors who will then mailshot you until the end of time.

Some Hotels like ours at Circus Circus have their own badge printing so queue here and avoid the line outside the exhibition halls.
Actually CES is so large that it is spread out into 3 principal areas as shown and spanning multiple Hotels and Exhibition spaces.

Free shuttle buses connect venues though you can of course choose to walk or Uber instead.

Turntables  (Ridiculous)

For those too young to remember, the Technics SL-1200 turntable became an iconic record player especially to DJ's in clubs in and around the 1980's.

So what is the harm for Technics to produce the SL-1200 GAE? Well as an ex audio enthusiast and vinyl junkie I would say that in the 80's this was peak technology, but today playing vinyl means in practice
- restricted musical choice
- incredible inconvenience
- lower sound quality
- not even good for DJ'ing which is now predominantly digital

There is retro charm, so if you are just overly pretentious, with deep wallets and no space issues at home, then go ahead.  But count us out.


Impressively compact and bright portable projectors from Aiptek.  iBeam and P800 and others seen.  P800 Promo video

CNET employees and CNET celebrities were to be seen everywhere.  I had to assume you could also actually pay to go on a CNET guided tour?  (We saw lines of people following CNET signs over 4 days) Either that or CNET has a lot of employees indeed.

 Samsung and other vendors showed their already shipping M.2 NVMe disks.  I want to emphasise that 3500MB/s read and 2100MB/sec write performance is simply an astonishing advance on the previous SATA III  'bottleneck' of 560MB/sec.

Computer technologies today are increasingly slowly incremental.  CPU speed for example.  But here a clear way to get over 6x performance in a new storage design that attaches directly to the PCIe bus.

Don't buy your next Workstation, Laptop or Desktop without this technology.

 By day #1, noon  CES was literally packed with people. If you suffer from claustrophobia then this is not the show for you.

Microsoft Surface: Behind the Scenes
CES divides into 3 parts IMHO
a) Open exhibitions, small scale and large scale
b) Presentation, usually in Tech West, you sit in a room for an announcement or special presentation, you need to register
c) Private Clients: Some more specialised firms hire Hotel Suites and invite their customers only to have one on ones with their product specialists.

Here we attended (b) where Microsoft told us about the people and the development process leading to Microsoft Surface

 We had to queue.  Hopefully a good sign

Pre show we were treated to an large amount of free nibbles, Wine and Coffee.   Marcus was very happy

Post presentation a look at some development prototypes and talks with actual Surface design staff at Microsoft.  Really excellent.

Marcus has worked with Microsoft products since 1979.  Macro-80 for example, even predating my Apple (1980).  So it was a pleasure to attend this presentation showing how Surface came to be.

Introducing Studio

To me Windows 10, is a really solid platform, and if you want a Workstation OS with touch capabilities you don't have too many choices.

SpeedX Unicorn

A nice road bike incorporating Power Meter, Sram eTap/Di2 mechanicals, built in cockpit, vibration control. About 4K USD for the top of the line, on kickstarter

This is an aggressive price point, but to counter: you are buying a new product from a non brand seller.

NuHera IQbuds (299 USD)

I've much more to say about Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds.  But to start with Nuheara, yes they were actually quite comfortable, but I did not test the sound quality or cancellation.  They currently don't ship outside of North America  and note the high price which is pretty typical for this market segment, but higher than current gen Apple  or Samsung equivalents.

My biggest advice so far, after trying over 10 different designs (some more to come!) is that fit is most important.  If you are an athlete then fit and not falling out are top priorities. Oh, and actually working in Stereo without delay or cut-out. Manufactures take note!

Gyroor Electric Scooters

As strong scooter advocates Gycor and other Shenzhen manufactures will take some beating. There is a new generation of Electric scooter that is pioneered and manufactured in China

- Carbon Fibre to get total weight < 7Kg.  Absolutely astonishing!
- Lithion Ion batteries, in the downtube
- Front brake
- Foldable design:  Means allowed on Swiss metro without extra ticket for example
- Front Light Good integration
- Digital Display
- Typically 24V electronics, and 250W+ batteries

This is a ground breaking. Why? Because an adult push scooter can easily weigh 5Kg so this design includes a brake and a motor and a light for practically the same weight. 

So light that you can use it electrically or as a traditionally human powered device.

I'd say the price point will be about 400GBP 500USD at least in European or North American Markets.

Gyroor produces many other interesting designs.  See their products page

Mio but not Slice
I've used and recommended the Mio Link as the device to wear to broadcast your heartrate to any Bluetooth phone  or ANT GPS watch.  Now Mio expands its line primarily with the Slice family Shown above howeve is the Link replacement due mid 2017

I'd still recommend the current Mio Link as a chest replacement, and the new Mio Link follow on when announced.

For Athletes I recommend wearing a full GPS watch, not a fitness tracker.  But I guess for the 80% plus of the population who are [sadly] not serious about sport or exercise,  or who wish to wear 'a proper watch' then an additional fitness tracker is necessary.

But to Marcus fitness trackers are available from just about everybody, so choose the one that has the best ecosystem.


Let me be crystal clear.  There are only 2 out of the box Network Attached Storage manufacturers I would every consider QNAP or Synology.  

And why? Because their Linux powered Storage devices have great features,  app ecosystems, and user interfaces.  The rest are "So Bad" to steal a quote from Donald Trump.

QNAP had some larger and more powerful NAS on display.  For the home user 10Gb networking and Quad Core Processors and 16GB memory might be too much, not to mention the prices.

As a rule of thumb QNAP are more expensive than Synology but offer higher end features.

QNAP QBoat Sunny

One of the most exciting products to Agata and Marcus was this future Internet of Things Server. This would really act as a masterful home hub that can be the central automation server that other Home Automation devices and hubs talk to.

QNAP: It depends on your pricing, base OS and developer support.  This could be big!

GP Batteries
A continued shout out to GP batteries.  I'm most familiar to this brand from Hong Kong, but they sell internationally.

To Marcus GP represent good quality products at inexpensive prices.  I checked  the price of 4xAA rechargeables from their UK store.  Let's just say less than 50% of prices I have to pay for other branded rechargables in Switzerland.

Deeper Bicycle Lock

A reinforced steel bicycle lock that you can open and close via your Smartphone. It includes a 110dB motion sensitive alarm and a movement alert is sent to your Smartphone if its within Bluetooth range.  A second Pro+ model additionally contains a GPS and GSM phone sim to broadcast your stolen bike's position if its 'put in the back of a van'.   Still in development

Complete Bollocks
It distressed me deeply that some dubious products entered CES.  But in this freedom of choice world, inevitable.


Imagine having this attached or inside your airport luggage, or attached to your pet, or your grandparent. Then being able to locate it/them worldwide.  This is IZUM.

As everybody should know if they think about it, GPS positioning is a receive only technology.  You listen to essentially timing information from a number of geostationary satellites and your electronics device computes location, for example your GPS sportswatch or in this example IZUM.  However to report this back to you via the internet you need a transmitter.  So IZUM contains an embedded phone SIM to transmit that. You need to buy the device and then pay a yearly subscription to give your SIM a global contract.


In front of a really packed and glitzy stage a tall woman advertised a large rectangular box saying that it would fold clothes automatically. I did not see any folding! 

 Whilst I believe this is possible, without a practical demonstration I'm at least say sceptical!   It could be relevant if
- I had a lot of laundry
- I had a lot of space in my house
- I wanted to become an expensive early adopter

Bona Robots

Bona from Guangdong don't just provide robotic vacuum cleaners.  But window cleaners also like the CC900  In our household we worked past the mandatory Dishwasher and Clothes washer years ago.  We've had several Robotic Vacuum cleaners.  We think the next step for similar minded obsessively clean individuals is the Window cleaner.

And so this is the first day at CES report.  We've tried hard to cover useful positive innovations that, I subjectively of course, consider useful and attractive.

Our coverage of day #2 commences tomorrow!

Yesterday: The American RV
CES Daily Day 1
Forward: CES Day 2