Check out the Best of CES 2020 award winners.
5G. A.I. Voice assistants. Metaverse. Yes, metaverse.
CES 2019 slathered on the buzzwords thick and heavy, but beneath the breathless hype and bluster, there were amazing products to back it up, too. Except metaverse. C’mon Nissan, you just made that up.
We saw laptops thin enough to disappear in a backpack, TVs that magically unroll from a box on command, and futuristic digital binoculars that made us wish for a 2019 remake of Rear Window. And that’s just the stuff on the show floor. This year, rolling around town in a self-driving Lyft ride became so routine it was almost boring. (But it’s still worth getting excited that you don’t have to tip.)
While CES gets smug eyerolls every year for amazing prototypes that will never come to market, this is the year stuff got real. The electric Harley we’ve seen for four years now? Finally real. A plant-based burger that could fool a carnivore? Finally real. An Alexa toilet? OK, fine, nobody was anticipating that. But it’s real!
So while not every pick for our Top Tech of CES 2019 is destined for a Best Buy near you, more of them are than ever. Yesterday’s far-flung concepts are this year’s products. So prepare to be amazed, and open your wallet.
Top Tech CES Winner
Oh yes, we picked a fake burger for our Top Tech of CES 2019. And you would too, if you tasted it.
This is no mere recipe, it’s food engineering at its finest. Impossible has loaded its next-gen burger with the iron-carrying molecule heme, which is part of what gives meat its distinctive flavor. It’s also conspicuously absent in all the faux meat you’ve tried and hated. This version gets its heme from genetically engineered yeast that can produce heme from soy, plus it has a beefier texture than the first Impossible Burger, and even better nutrition.
These changes are no mere gimmick. We have tasted the future, and it tastes like beef. Seriously. The smell, color, and texture of this burger are uncanny. It even bleeds. You might legitimately pass this burger off to an unsuspecting beef-eater without raising an eyebrow, and that is unprecedented.
Look, you don’t need to be a card-carrying PETA member to care. In fact, we’ve heard it’s so beef-like it makes vegetarians squirm. The benefits of a burger like this are environmental. Producing beef objectively requires an insane amount of resources, and as the world’s population grows, continuing to consume the amount we do is not realistic. The Impossible Burger 2.0 doesn’t need to ween an entire generation off meat to make a difference; it’s a good start to just consume less. And with a burger this good, it doesn’t even have to feel like a sacrifice.
Nicely done, Impossible! Now, can we get some Impossible Bacon?
– By Nick Mokey
Audio Award Winner
At CES 2019, we’ve made no bones about the fact that we’re pretty excited about WiSA and the implications it could mean for the home theater of the future. The wireless audio protocol allows for simple, high-resolution audio to be transmitted directly to powered speakers from a growing number of devices, including LG TVs, PCs, and new Xboxes. And since the technology is brand-agnostic, 2019 could see a rushing river of new WiSA devices, both for transmission products and speakers.
That’s a big reason why we picked Klipsch’s lovely new WiSA home theater system — which runs around $2,500 for the whole kit and kaboodle — as our top audio product of CES 2019. While Harman Kardon’s new Citation series was also a contender, following a quick demo of Ready Player One’s best action scene, Klipsch’s sleek, simple, and gorgeous-sounding WiSA setup won our hearts — and we think they’ll do the same for plenty of other home theater fans this year.
– By Ryan Waniata
Automotive Award Winner
In the world of transportation, there are some companies we expect to see at CES. Harley-Davidson is not one of them. Founded in 1903, the world-famous motorcycle manufacturer is better known for proudly channeling its heritage than for making forward-thinking, cutting-edge products. This changed with the release of the LiveWire, the brand’s first battery-electric model.
The LiveWire doesn’t roar; it whirs. An electric motor integrated into an aluminum frame propels it from 0 to 60 mph in a scant 3.5 seconds, while a lithium-ion battery pack delivers up to 110 miles of range. The bike’s top speed clocks in at 110 mph – if you’re brave enough to reach it.
Harley also incorporated connectivity into the LiveWire. Instead of an analog instrument cluster, it comes with a 4.2-inch touchscreen that shows information like navigation and drivetrain data. Riders can download an app named H-D Connect to remotely monitor the charging process, find charging stations along a given route, and receive alerts if the bike gets moved or bumped.
Electric and fully connected, the Harley-Davidson LiveWire will go on sale at select dealerships in North America in August 2019. Pricing starts at $30,000 before incentives enter the equation.
– By Ronan Glon
Computing Award Winner
CES 2019 was the battle of the bezels. Every company arrived armed with a troop of laptops that have maximum screen packed into minimum footprint. But when the dust settled, there was a winner: The Asus ZenBook S13.
The laptop boasts a 97 percent screen-to-body ratio. That translates to 2.5 millimeters, or less than one-tenth of an inch. It’s an incredibly slim bezel you must see to believe. It’s so thin, in fact, that Asus added an inverted notch to fit the webcam. It looks odd, but only if you notice it. Which you won’t. You’ll be too busy gawking at the display.
But make no mistake. The ZenBook S13 isn’t a one-trick pony. This is a real workhorse 13-inch laptop equipped with the latest Intel hardware and a battery with a claimed 15 hours of endurance. Past ZenBook 13 models have repeatedly won our awards.
That’s why we handed Asus the award. This isn’t a concept, a prototype, or a niche. The ZenBook S13 is a mainstream stunner that could (or should) be your next laptop.
– By Luke Larsen
Emerging Tech Award Winner
Dual-joystick controllers have been the go-to control system for drones for almost as long as drones have been around. Thing is, this isn’t necessarily because two joysticks are the best way to control a drone — it’s more because the two-stick layout was popular with the RC aircraft community, and when RC aircraft gained autonomous capabilities, it made sense to stick with a controller layout that people were already familiar with.
The only problem, of course, is that because most drones are equipped with cameras, pilots now have much more than just two joysticks to worry about — and all those buttons, knobs, and switches can be really hard to wrap your head around.
FT Aviator is a new drone controller that completely alleviates this issue. Thanks to its clever design, it allows drone pilots to fully control their crafts with a single hand. Whereas dual-stick controllers assign pitch/roll to one stick and yaw/acceleration to the other, FT Aviator assigns pitch/roll to the main joystick, yaw to the twisting motion of that joystick, and allows you to control acceleration/deceleration with your thumb. Essentially, this frees up your other hand and allows you to use it exclusively for camera control. #gamechanger.
– By Drew Prindle
Emerging Tech Award Winner
It used to be that Gore-Tex was your only option if you wanted a waterproof but breathable jacket, but after seeing and wearing what The North Face brought to the show this year, it’s clear that there’s a new sheriff in town. The company’s new Futurelight fabric is lighter and thinner, and orders of magnitude more breathable — in addition to being completely waterproof. Functionally speaking, this means that excessive moisture won’t build up inside your jacket if you start to sweat. In fact, you probably won’t start to sweat in the first place. It’s seriously that breathable.
To achieve this minor miracle, Digital Trends reporter Kraig Becker wrote, “the North Face had to completely go back to the drawing board to design and create an entirely new fabric. The company used a technique known as nanospinning to weave the fibers that make up Futurelight on a sub-microscopic level. This technique allowed The North Face to incorporate nano-sized holes within the material itself, creating a high level of porosity. In short, it was able to create a fabric that lets air move freely through the fibers, while remaining waterproof at the same time. ”
– By Drew Prindle
Emerging Tech Award Winner
Maybe you’re worried about diabetes and want to check your glucose level, or you think you may have a UTI (urinary tract infection), or you want to find out if you’re pregnant. Usually you’d be looking at a doctor’s visit or a trip to the pharmacist but with Testcard, you can order up a test for just $4 and it will arrive in postcard form in the mail. Install the app on your phone, urinate on the card, or dip it in your urine, and then you can use your phone’s camera as a clinical grade scanner to get your results.
It may not be the sexiest tech around, but Testcard is fulfilling an important service in a cheap and reliable way. Even a test at the doctor’s is liable to be less reliable because they interpret the results by eye and may use tests that are past their use-by date. With Testcar, your phone will alert you if the results are invalid for any reason and the confirmation you get is completely trustworthy. You’ll be able to order Testcard in the U.S. starting from July.
– By Simon Hill
Health & Wellness Award Winner
Stress impacts millions of people every day. It can cause unwanted physical effects, prevent us from having fun or going to work, and even make us gravely ill in the long term if we don’t take steps to deal with it. Touchpoints is designed to shake you out of your usual stress responses, slowing your heart rate and killing the butterflies in your stomach within 30 seconds of turning it on. A twin set of vibrating devices that look like watches send out synchronized vibrations that disrupt your body’s typical stress routine. You can wear one on each wrist and pick a vibration intensity that works for you.
Developed by neuroscientist Amy Serin, Touchpoints relies on a proven bilateral stimulation technique to reduce cortisol levels and help you focus. It’s backed by solid research and studies, and Touchpoints put it into action at CES with brain scans and blood pressure monitoring to show the impact. We have been testing it out for ourselves and feel a tangible reduction in our stress level each time we use it. The basic version costs $160.
– By Simon Hill
Home Appliance Award Winner
Lots of people leave their KitchenAid mixers on their counters, because they have a multitude of attachments for everything from kneading dough to making ice cream. Now, KitchenAid wants to bring that kind of versatility to its KitchenAid Smart Oven+.
Surprisingly, KitchenAid hasn’t had much to do with the smart home, and this is the brand’s debut at CES. The wall oven works with three ‘attachments’: A grill, a steamer, and a baking stone. When these special dishes make contact with a protrusion in the back of the oven, the attachment itself heats up. This means the oven doesn’t output as much heat, and each dish does something unique. The baking stone, for example, helps crisp foods like crab cakes. The smart aspect is KitchenAid’s partnership with Yummly, which has specially created recipes for these dishes. Via the app or on the oven’s LCD screen, users can follow the step-by-step instructions. Welcome to the smart home, KitchenAid.
– By Jenny McGrath
Mobile Award Winner
Google dominated the voice assistant conversation at CES 2019 — yet again — but there’s one upgrade that has the likelihood to impact your everyday life greatly, particularly if you drive. Google has brought Google Assistant to Google Maps, dramatically improving the way you will interact with your smartphone while driving.
You’ve been able to use the standard voice search in Google Maps to find gas stations nearby and add it to your route, but with Google Assistant, you can easily ask the artificially intelligent assistant to check if you turned the lights off at home, or read and reply to text messages. Even better, you can now send messages through Assistant for third-party messaging apps including Android Messages, Telegram, WhatsApp, Viber, and Facebook Messenger.
Google has thought about distracted driving as well, and Assistant in Google Maps doesn’t block the route or map at all. You also won’t be able to read the transcription of what you say, or anything Assistant says, to prevent the need to look at the smartphone screen.
These are little improvements that have the potential to impact our daily lives, and the best part is you can use it right now, as the update is available for Android and iOS (you’ll need the Assistant app on iOS first).
– By Julian Chokkattu
Photography Award Winner
We didn’t think our CES 2019 Award for Photography would go to a pair of binoculars, but then again, the DoubleTake from NexOptic is no ordinary set of binoculars. Instead, it’s a sci-fi-looking digital camera that you might see Luke Skywalker use. It uses a wide 5-inch display, in place of traditional eyecups, which makes the viewing experience not only comfortable, but easily shared with others.
Powered by a quad-core processor and a 12-megapixel sensor, the DoubleTake offers two levels of optical zoom (2.5x and 10x). Like what you see? Take a photo or even record 4K video. Whether you’re birdwatching or traveling, the DoubleTake eliminates the need to carry multiple devices. It also has a rugged design ideal for outdoor use.
While it’s still in prototype stage, we saw a working sample that shows its effectiveness. The company says it should begin selling sometime in 2019. The binoculars industry isn’t one that really needed disruption, but the DoubleTake is also a proof of concept for NexOptic’s Blade Optics tech, which allows for telescopic capabilities using compact optics. Even if the DoubleTake remains a niche product, we could see the technology embedded elsewhere.
– By Les Shu
Rideables Award Winner
CES is no stranger to rideables. Although attendees continue to bomb the crowded halls on electric skateboards and so-called hoverboards, this year saw a noticeable dearth of transportation vehicles that weren’t – well – gimmicky. Fortunately, Lime’s latest e-scooter is anything but gimmicky.
The third-generation vehicle, dubbed the Lime-S Gen 3, takes what’s best about Lime’s current fleet of dockless e-scooters and improves upon it. The wheels are bigger and badder, each model can travel 20 percent farther on a single charge, and a mountain bike-inspired suspension system ensures a smoother, safer ride. There are also enhanced braking components. There’s even a 2.8-inch display designed to feed you any info Lime deems pertinent, such as your current speed and parking restrictions.
Like all dockless e-scooters, the Gen 3 may only be available in select cities come November, but it’s only a matter time before you or someone you know skips the Lyft in favor of the bike lane. The e-scooter revolution has already begun, after all.
– By Brandon Widder
Security Award Winner
Video doorbells have increased in popularity over the past few years (in fact, several new models have been introduced at CES 2019 alone). These doorbells with embedded video cameras are an easy way to monitor what’s happening at your front door.
But up until now, renters with restrictive lease agreements have been literally been left out on the front door step, unable to either drill a battery-operated doorbell into the outside of their apartment or hardwire in a new one.
Ring, maker of video doorbells and smart cameras, saw the void and decided to fill it with the Ring Door View Cam, a doorbell camera that installs where an existing peephole is. That’s why we’re giving Ring the Digital Trends CES 2019 Home Security award.
The doorbell replaces your peephole with a peephole/doorbell/camera combination and is easy to install, as it connects through the existing peephole on both sides of the door. If features the ability to black out certain areas of view, and you can get motion alerts directly on your phone via an app. You can also answer the doorbell from your phone — even if you’re across the country.
– By Kim Wetzel
Sleep Award Winner
Snoring can make your favorite bedmate seem like a monster – one who must be silenced. There are lots of products on the market that promise to alleviate the problem, but sleep tech has to be unobtrusive, or else it defeats its purpose.
Philips came up with a novel solution, an adjustable cloth band that goes around the snorer’s chest and learns their breathing patterns. When it’s alerted that you’re snoring, it will vibrate – a more gentle version of the elbow to the ribs snorers are probably used to. The buzzes adjust in intensity and frequency, so hopefully even heavy sleepers will get the message that they’re sawing logs and change position. Yet it’s supposed to be subtle enough that it doesn’t wake either sleeper. Pricing and availability is yet to be announced, but we know at least one half of a couple who’s anxious for their partner to try it out.
– By Jenny McGrath
Smart Home Award Winner
Does a toilet really need Amazon Alexa built in?
That was the question we at Digital Trends initially asked ourselves when we learned about the Kohler Numi 2.0 smart toilet. Then we saw it, and knew the answer was yes — not just because of Alexa embedded into the fixture, but because of the beauty and smart functionality of the toilet.
That’s why we’ve given the Numi 2.0 the Digital Trends CES 2019 Smart Home award.
Other than having an Alexa speaker built into the fixture, the toilet features a bidet, a seat that detects your presence and automatically lifts when you walk near it, and soft interactive smart lighting that illuminates from the bottom. That means no more fumbling in the dark to find your way to the toilet.
The lid is heated so that you never have to plop down on a cold surface, and it has high-tech water-efficiency capabilities built in.
With all that said, the real kicker with the Numi 2.0 is the sheer beauty of the device. Available in black or white, it’s square-shaped design is extremely attractive and inviting. And let’s face it, with Alexa built in, you can leave your phone elsewhere when you have to go.
– By Kim Wetzel
Tech for Good Award Winner
After a solid week gazing at wall-sized TVs, opulent yachts that respond to your every whim, and self-driving supercars at CES, you have to wonder: Couldn’t we be using technology to do more for the world?
The answer is definitely yes, and more companies are answering that call than ever before. To recognize them, Digital Trends has created a CES award specifically celebrating tech with the capacity to improve our society.
We’re calling it the Tech for Good award, and for 2019 it goes to Cocoon, a smart beehive. Yes, beehive. Here’s why you should care: Varroa Destructor are bloodsucking mites can destroy entire colonies if left unchecked. Cocoon kills them. As the primary pollinators of our food supply, bees are essential for agriculture, and therefore, you know, human survival.
Using solar panels, the Cocoon heats the inside of its hive to 108 degrees, warm enough to destroy evil Varroa Destructor mites, while leaving the bees unfazed. It’s safer than pesticides, and less disruptive than quarantining entire colonies. At $950 per hive, it’s certainly not cheap, but that price could easily come down with scale.
So, while you may never own a Cocoon, or even see one, there’s a good chance all of society could benefit from it. And that’s worth celebrating.
– By Nick Mokey
Video Award Winner
When Samsung showed off its new Micro LED tech in the form of a 146-inch monstrosity known as The Wall, we were impressed by the tech, but we openly scoffed at the idea that it would make it into consumers’ homes any time within the next five years. There was a huge challenge ahead with scaling down the technology so it could be arranged into a TV that even remotely resembled something looking like today’s TVs – an 80-inch variant seemed a distant dream – but then Samsung’s engineers went to work and ended up proving us wrong by retooling their Micro LED panels entirely and squeezing out a 75-inch version, which debuted at this year’s CES show.
Micro LED is a legitimate competitor to OLED, with great black levels, astonishing brightness, and a massive color gamut. And competition is a very good thing. While a Micro LED TV won’t hit store shelves this year, it is clear that it very well could in the next year or two. That’s innovation in engineering, and worthy of recognition. Now, the pressure is on Samsung to come through and put this tech in the market so we can buy it. If this last year’s developments are any indication, we think there’s a very good chance it will.
– By Caleb Denison
Wearables Award Winner
Kate Spade nails it again. We awarded its Scallop smartwatch the best wearable award last year at CES 2018, and it’s the Kate Spade Scallop 2 smartwatch that’s earning the win again at CES 2019. In a category that was slow to cater to women, the Scallop 2 is one Wear OS device that continues to lead the pack to show how it should be done.
Kate Spade’s new creative director, Nicola Glass, has expanded the scallop and spade motif to create a strong visual brand identity for the Scallop 2. The scalloped design around the bezel now transitions into the strap, and there are plenty of playful watch faces and animations throughout the interface that help the watch stand out from the plethora of other Wear OS smartwatches.
There’s now a dedicated button for the ‘Choose Your Look’ feature, which lets you match the watch face to what you’re wearing on any given day, but the biggest improvements are technical. There’s now a heart rate monitor, allowing you to track your heart rate throughout the day and 3ATM water resistance, along with built-in GPS and NFC for contactless payments via Google Pay.
There are a lot of different looks to choose from, as well as plenty of straps to customize the Scallop 2 to your liking. The Scallop 2 starts at $295 and it has all the features you want on a smartwatch, but the eye-catching design is the cherry on top.
– By Julian Chokkattu
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