Skip to main content

5 overlooked CES announcements that actually matter

5 important ces 2018 announcements for the year ahead huawei mate 10 pro
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Look, we love the big TVs too. The concept cars. The robots that promise to cater to our every whim. Even the ones they probably shouldn’t cater to.

But at the end of the day, a lot of products we see shouted from the rooftops at CES never really change our lives. We go home to our 1080p TVs, our ’99 Toyota Corollas, and our 20-year-old Kenmore refrigerators, and the future seems like it never comes.

That’s not always the case, though. Some of the most consequential CES announcements get outshined by 146 inches of blazing MicroLEDs, even when they mean big changes for you in the year ahead. Fortunately, we’re here to shine a light on them. These are the products, technologies, and innovations that will change the course of tech in the year ahead.

Alexa is coming to Windows 10

Alexa moves in with Cortana

Maybe Microsoft should have seen this one coming. As Alexa popped up in more speakers, fridges, microwaves, and lamps, it was only a matter of time before it showed up on the desktop operating system that a vast majority of the world uses. At CES 2018, HP, Lenovo, Asus, and Acer announced that they will release Alexa-compatible laptops.

If you already live in the Echo ecosystem, this is great news. Your next laptop (or maybe your boring old one, with a software update) now represents yet another way to turn on the lights, turn up the heat, and add profane items to your grocery list. And every Echo will soon represent a new way to interact with your PC. “Hey Alexa, send that spreadsheet I’ve been working on to Andy.” It’s not reality yet, but it could very well happen this year.

As for Cortana, things suddenly look much grimmer now that it faces a more capable AI on its home turf. Like Samsung’s competing Bixby or Hound by SoundHound (it’s a real thing), Cortana might be headed to the same dark AI graveyard where Facebook just laid M to rest.

Nvidia and VW, sitting in a tree


CES 2018 brought no shortage of companies boldly declaring that they would usher in our self-driving pod car future, but Nvidia brought less talk and more silicon. The company that already powers Tesla’s bar-setting Model S this year announced both an insane new chip called Xavier, and a new partnership with Volkswagen that will bring it to the masses.

We’ll spare you the teraflop talk, but Xavier basically compresses the computing power of “a trunk full of PCs” to a package the size of a license plate, which should be enough power to unlock true “level five” autonomous driving. That means steering wheel optional – sit in the back and Instagram your way to work.

Xavier may sound far-fetched, but it’s not: It’s coming this quarter. So while you may want to keep the lease on your Kia for 2018, the chip that will make extreme autonomy possible is here, and we could be seeing some wild cars powered by it in the year ahead.

Intel’s new AMD-powered chips


If you buy a mid-tier laptop today, it probably sucks at gaming. Despite promises from Intel every year that its integrated graphics are about to go legit and let you play modern games, most still struggle with games from even a couple years ago. Until now.

Thanks to an incredibly unlikely partnership with AMD, Intel’s next-gen laptop chips will sport Radeon RX Vega graphics, which rival the real-deal gaming prowess of some of Nvidia’s best GeForce cards. That means you don’t need to buy a neon-accented “gaming laptop” just to play some Civ VI in your hotel room.

I’ll let gaming editor Matt Smith spell out all the compelling implications, but for anyone planning to purchase a new laptop this year, this is spectacular news. Even if you don’t buy high-end, the next breed of processors are going to make it a much more capable machine.

Qualcomm QC5100

Qualcomm Bluetooth QCC5100 chip logo

Booooring. Go ahead, get it out of your system. We’ll concede that silicon ranks up there with advanced calculus on the “fun to discuss at parties” scale, but Qualcomm’s newest Bluetooth chip is going to unlock some radical devices you will almost certainly want to buy this year.

Here’s the sad truth: Almost all truly wireless earbuds suck right now. Go back and read any of our reviews, and we consistently harp on the same caveats: Battery life is abysmal, and they’re way too finicky and hard to pair.

Qualcomm promises to solve both of these issues with the QC5100, a tiny chip that shrinks all the essential processing for a pair of Bluetooth ‘buds down into one miniscule package. It’s three times faster than previous versions thanks to three cores instead of one, uses 65 percent less juice, and it’s compatible with Bluetooth 5, which means a step forward in range, reliability, and sound quality thanks to the gold-standard AptX HD.

All that processing power also means the chip can enable features like advanced noise cancellation, gesture control, fitness tracking, and all the other bells and whistles you’ll demand out of a pair of $200 earbuds. Look for devices powered by this beast arriving on shelves mid-2018.

Huawei is barging into the U.S. one way or another

Poor Huawei. After trying to crack into the American phone market for years, and finally getting a big break when AT&T agreed to begin carrying its phones, Huawei got some bad news at CES.

AT&T backed out.

Due to some apparent behind-the-scenes political bullying, Huawei phones will not be showing up at your local AT&T store anytime soon. Locked out at the front door, Huawei could have given up on its dreams of American conquest, but that’s not how the $20 billion telecom giant plays. Instead, it’s breaking a window and going in the side.

On Tuesday, Huawei announced that it will begin selling the Mate 10 Pro in the U.S. for $800 in February, through big-name retailers including Best Buy, Microsoft stores, Newegg, B&H Photo, and of course, Amazon. Each of them will give away $150 gift cards with the phones, which reduces the effective price to a more tempting $650.

That means the Mate 10 Pro we raved about in November is a lot easier and cheaper to get in 2018, if you live in the States. And we’re hoping it’s just the beginning of Huawei’s American offensive. How about some deals on the Honor View 10 and Honor 7X, Huawei? If this builder of some of our favorite budget phones can establish a foothold in the U.S., we’ll all be a lot better off for it. And so will our wallets.

Editors' Recommendations

Nick Mokey
As Digital Trends’ Managing Editor, Nick Mokey oversees an editorial team delivering definitive reviews, enlightening…
Lenovo Legion Pro 5 gaming laptop with an RTX 4070 is $400 off
Cyberpunk 2077 on the Lenovo Legion Pro 5.

If you're planning to buy a new gaming laptop, we highly recommend looking for offers involving the Lenovo Legion Pro 5. There's one right now from Lenovo itself -- a $400 discount that pulls the machine's price down from $1,900 to $1,500. It's still not cheap, but we assure you that every penny spent on this gaming laptop will be worth it. You're going to have to hurry with your purchase if you don't want to miss out on getting the device at 21% off though, as its price may return to normal at any moment.

Why you should buy the Lenovo Legion Pro 5 gaming laptop
The Lenovo Legion Pro 5 is our top choice in our roundup of the best gaming laptops because of the fantastic value that it provides as a reasonably priced and well-built machine. It's powered by the AMD Ryzen 7 7745HX processor and the Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 graphics card, plus 32GB of RAM that's enough to run multiple applications like streaming software and web browsers while playing the best PC games at their highest settings, according to our guide on how much RAM do you need. With these specifications, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5 is also prepared to play the best upcoming PC games without any need for further upgrades.

Read more
Best 17-inch laptop deals: Big savings on big screen laptops
Alienware m17 R5 laptop sitting next to a headset.

17-inch laptops sit right at the top of the line for big screens on laptops. Far from being oddballs, however, they are made by the best laptop brands and many are included amongst our lists of the best laptops. Still though, this is not just a list of the best laptop deals, but bigger. Instead, we've found 17-inch laptop deals that show that you can go bigger (and possibly better) without going broke. Here are our favorite 17-inch laptop deals of the season.
ASUS 17.3-Inch Chromebook — $199, was $299

This is probably the cheapest 17-inch laptop (that you'll actually enjoy using) of the moment. It's also one of our lowest price favorites when it comes to Best Buy laptop deals. It's got 4GB of memory and 64GB of eMMC flash storage so it'll be perfect for browsing the net, watching YouTube on (it has a 1080p resolution), and getting a bit of work done without distractions. Bonuses include super-fast Wi-Fi 6 capabilities, an HD webcam with mic, and even a headphone/microphone combo jack.

Read more
Surface Laptop Go 3 vs. Surface Pro 7+: is it an upgrade?
Microsoft Surface Pro 7

The Surface Laptop Go 3 is Microsoft's new affordable Surface laptop, with upgraded hardware and long battery life making it a compelling option for budget laptop buyers in 2023. But for anyone considering an upgrade to a Surface device at around that $800 price, the Surface Pro 7+ still presents an attractive purchase, and it can flip into a tablet when you need it.

That brings to mind the age-old question, of whether newer is automatically better. In this case, it might not be. Let's take a look at the Surface Laptop Go 3 versus Surface Pro 7+, to find out.

Read more