This story is part of our continuing coverage of CES 2020, including tech and gadgets from the showroom floor.
CES 2020 is the first tech show of the new decade, and it’s already setting the tone for the next 10 years. The usual product announcements were pushed aside by a flood of innovative, and sometimes strange, technologies. We rode an electric bike that glides across water, used a laptop that looks like a Moleskin notebook, and saw a television that can swing vertically to mimic a smartphone.
The best tech, however, had higher goals in mind. Life-changing concepts arrived in full force, reminding us that technology is at its best when solving real-world problems. We’re not talking about small annoyances, but issues that impact both our lives and our world.
Here’s the Top Tech of CES 2020.
Overall Winner: BrainCo Dexus prosthetic arm
We saw plenty of technology that could make our lives marginally more comfortable, exciting, or convenient at CES 2020 – after all, that’s why we love gadgets. But one device we saw at CES 2020 absolutely floored us when we realized the life-changing implications: The BrainCo Dexus.
BrainCo specializes in brain-machine interfaces (BMI), and used that expertise to create a prosthetic limb controlled entirely by the wearer’s thoughts. The company’s innovation was at CES 2019 as a prototype; this year, BrainCo said it is moving into production and anticipates Food and Drug Administration approval later this year.
We stopped by the booth and were blown away, shaking hands with an amputee who then drew exquisite Chinese characters, all thanks to his new limb. While traditional bionic limbs require extensive training, BrainCo’s technology makes it much more seamless to translate intentions to hand movement. Bulky controls and complicated tutorials aren’t necessary.
Beyond being amazing, it’s also affordable. Traditional prostheses cost around $40,000. Company President Max Newlon told us BrainCo’s arm will sell for $10K. Now that’s impressive – and for some users, life-changing.
— By Jeremy Kaplan
Audio: Vizio Elevate
Vizio is a proven leader in soundbars, but lately the company has raised its game, offering cutting-edge features like Dolby Atmos sound and Wi-Fi connectivity at pricing that makes competitors look downright greedy.
At CES 2020, Vizio’s Elevate soundbar is by far the star of the show. The Elevate features upfiring drivers that, besides being just plain cool, can adapt the sound automatically, spinning upward to fire sound at the ceiling for 3D audio, or rolling forward for more power and musicality when you’re jamming to your favorite tunes.
Aside from that, the Elevate packs plenty of key features like a backlit remote, a dedicated input for your smart speaker, HDMI eARC connection for compression-free Dolby Atmos, DTS:X sound, and perfect audio sync from supported TVs. We don’t know the pricing for this massive bar yet (fingers crossed it keeps the Vizio tradition of affordability going), but the Elevate is an impressive new soundbar that gets our gold star for the show.
— By Ryan Waniata
Automotive: Damon Hypersport
Yes, the best automotive product at CES 2020 was a motorcycle. We think you’ll agree that it deserves the honor. While other companies were toying around with electric motorcycles, Damon was building the world’s first shape-shifting motorcycle – which also happens to be electric.
That sounds like hyperbole, but after feeling the Shift function, we think Damon can deliver what it has promised. The bike literally transforms underneath you, from a hunched-over sportbike to an easy-riding upright position. As any rider who has ever hobbled into a 7-Eleven with aching wrists after hours on the highway will tell you, this is a game-changer for comfort.
Damon didn’t stop there. The Hypersport is also the first bike to incorporate important safety features that cars have had for decades. LEDs in the windscreen light up when there’s a car in your blind spot, and the handlebars will buzz urgently if you’re sailing toward an obstacle you don’t seem to notice.
With a top speed of 200 miles per hour and a range of 200 miles, this bike has something for everyone. Take our money! $24,995 to be exact.
— By Nick Mokey
AR/VR: Pimax 8K X
Pimax hasn’t had it easy. The company’s Kickstarter, which promised the first 8K VR headset, was received well. Opinion took a turn for the worse, however, as the promised January 2018 release window came and went.
Now, at CES 2020, it’s real. The Pimax 8K X offers 8K resolution and a 200-degree field of view, specifications well ahead of the Valve Index or Oculus Quest. Upping the resolution makes a noticeable difference in image sharpness, while fine text and details that are difficult to see on most VR headsets look crystal clear on the Pimax 8K X.
The increased field of view doesn’t stand out at first, but you’ll appreciate it once you settle in. A broader FOV means you can rely on your peripheral vision.
You can use the Pimax 8K X with Steam VR or Oculus games (through Pimax’s software), and the headset is compatible with Valve Index base stations and controllers.
The Pimax 8K X is available to order now for $1,299, and new orders will ship this spring.
— By Matthew S. Smith
Computing: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
But Lenovo has made something far more useful than just a screen that can fold in half. The gorgeous 13-inch, 4:3 display can either be used as a tablet held in your hands, a laptop folded in half, or propped up on its kickstand as a screen at your desk. It’s a tablet, laptop, and desktop, all in one.
The keyboard makes it all work. It’s magnetic and can attach to the bottom half of the device to use as a laptop, or be detached as a wireless accessory. Not only is the keyboard large enough for comfortable typing, it includes a small touchpad below. It all closes into single package, with an optional stylus included as well.
All that might sound audacious. It might sound radical. But when we put our hands on it for the first time, nothing made us more excited for the future of laptops than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold.
— By Luke Larsen
Emerging Tech: Sarcos Guardian XO Exoskeleton
I’ve witnessed exoskeletons at CES before. I’ve even worn a few of them. But the Guardian XO is a different breed. It’s the first commercially available, full-body, untethered exoskeleton in the world, and it’s nothing short of amazing.
You know those exosuits that Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt wore in Edge of Tomorrow? What about the “power loader” from James Cameron’s Aliens? The robotic exoskeleton from Sarcos is the same thing with fewer weapons and a better paint job. It’s the real-world incarnation of all the sci-fi movie concepts we’ve been drooling over for decades, and it’s a technological masterpiece.
Once inside, you don’t need to touch any joysticks or buttons. You can move just as you would normally, and the suit instantly augments that motion with its beefy mechanical muscles.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to buy one for yourself (they currently sell for about $100,000 each), though there’s a chance you might spot one at the airport later in 2020. Delta Airlines has inked a deal with Sarcos to outfit the company’s front-line employees with these sci-fi suits, so keep an eye out for them next time you fly.
— By Drew Prindle
Home Appliance: Juno Cooler
Sometimes you need an ice-cold beer, but when you pick a case up from the store that’s not already chilled, chances are you’ll have to wait a couple hours for it to chill to a refreshing temperature. That’s where the Juno cooler comes to the rescue.
This countertop-friendly appliance will chill a can of beer in about 2 minutes. If you have something larger (like a bottle of wine), it only takes 5 minutes for it to cool to a level that’s perfect for drinking.
Juno uses advanced thermoelectric technology to create some serious chill. It’s astoundingly quick and effective at removing heat from beverages. During a live demo, the Juno quickly transformed hot coffee into iced coffee. Seriously.
While it’s not meant to replace a refrigerator, there are scenarios that would fit Juno’s practically. You’ll never run out of chilled beverages at parties with this gadget in your kitchen. It’s currently on pre-order for $200, and will ship in summer 2020.
— By John Velasco
Mobile: Samsung Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite
Samsung is making a move in the affordable flagship space with the announcement of the Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite. The company’s debut of not one but two “affordable flagships” is progress on its attempt to streamline its mobile offerings and hit all the proper segments while doing so.
There’re some curious choices when it comes to specs, like a 48 MP main camera on the S10 Lite and Exynos processor in the Note 10 Lite. However, both have triple camera setups, 6.7-inch HD+ (2,440 x 1,080 pixels) AMOLED displays, and 4,500mAh batteries. Stocked with 2018 flagship processors, the S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite use the Snapdragon 855 and Exynos 8895, respectively. The Note 10 Lite also comes with the S Pen and all the functionality is offers.
These phones offer plenty of power, and choice, to people who don’t want to spend $1,000 on a phone but still want an excellent experience.
— By Corey Gaskin
Photography: Insta 360 One R
Action cameras have come a long way over the past decade. So far, in fact, that new innovations can be hard to find. Yet Insta360 has a new angle; Real, useful modular design.
The Insta360 One R is separated into a few distinct components. The body houses the camera electronics and the tiny 1-inch screen. That attaches to the lens. And then there’s the battery, which clamps to both and ties it all together.
Insta360 is launching the One R with plenty of options. You can choose from a 360-degree, 4K wide-angle lens or a 5.3k lens co-engineered with Leica. There’s also an extended battery base. Insta360 says more options will arrive over time.
The Insta360 One R is waterproof to 5 meters, offers auto-frame and auto-edit tech, can be controlled by your voice, and supports HDR. It’s a true flagship action cam.
You can buy the Insta360 One R now starting at $300.
— By Matthew S. Smith
Rideable: Manta5 Hydrofoiler XE-1
There are two kinds of rideables. Practical and boring, or impractical and outrageously fun.
Manta5 is the latter. It’s an e-bike that rides on water instead of land. How? Hydrofoils. They’re like wings that work in water, and they’re the secret sauce that makes Manta5’s Hydrofoiler XE-1 such a riot to ride.
As you pedal, the hydrofoils hoist the craft up and out of the water. Before you know it, you’re effortlessly gliding just above the surface. It’s a brilliant mashup of technologies borrowed from air, water, and land vehicles.
The riding experience is unlike anything I’ve ever tried. Sure, it’s like riding a bike because you’re sitting on a seat, holding handles, and pedaling — but the feel is entirely different. The steering is more fluid than a wheeled bike, much in the same way that steering a boat feels more slippery and imprecise than steering a car.
The XE-1 also has the playful feel of a mountain bike, mixed with the supremely smooth gliding sensation you get from a surfboard. It’s simultaneously familiar and foreign, which makes for an absolutely exhilarating ride that sticks with you long after you’re done.
— By Drew Prindle
Smart Home: Lockly Vision Smart Lock
Lockly includes the features that made its previous smart locks successful, like fingerprint unlocking, but adds a camera so the lock can double as a video doorbell. Instead of having to buy a smart lock and video doorbell separately, it’s combined into one cohesive device.
It’s the ultimate smart lock for any home, including AirBnB households, because you can also send out time-sensitive pin codes. The camera adds the ability to check up on who’s at the front door and monitor who is coming or going.
The Lockly Vision also doesn’t require a bridge to access remotely, can be unlocked with a key manually, and offers local storage. It covers the gamut of what you need in a premium smart lock.
— By John Velasco
Health & Wellness: Withings ScanWatch
Withings has expanded on its clever hybrid smartwatch design by adding more health-related functionality and making the PMOLED screen bigger and easier to read.
The new Withings ScanWatch boasts an SpO2 sensor that measures blood oxygen saturation. It can even do so while the wearer is asleep. That’s a big deal because sleep apnea frequently goes undiagnosed, and up to 80% of sufferers are unaware of their condition. This could be an important early-warning system.
The heart rate sensor, combined with Withings software, can even detect irregular heartbeats and atrial fibrillation, helping to highlight potential heart problems before they worsen. All this comes on top of 30-day battery life, regular fitness tracking, and smartphone notifications from connected iPhones or Android phones.
The Withings ScanWatch comes in two sizes, 38mm or 42mm, and will cost $250 or $300 respectively when it goes on sale later this year. That’s a reasonable price for a watch packed with advanced health features.
— By Simon Hill
Video: TCL Vidrian
Once again, CES has proved it’s the show for hot TV tech – LG”s rolldown OLED, Hisense’s dual-cell ULED XD technology, and Samsung’s Q950TS were all impressive. But after careful consideration and deliberation, we’ve landed on TCL’s Vidrian mini-LED display as the pick for our Best Tech of CES 2020 in the video category.
I’m still impressed that TCL was the first to bring mini-LED to market, and this new version of it, which sees some 25,000 mini-LED backlights mounted directly to a glass substrate, is way beyond the competition. To put things in perspective, most TVs have standard LED backlights numbering in the hundreds.
With 25,000 miniaturized backlights on glass, the TCL not only has tremendous control over luminance, it eliminates several layers in the LCD panel sandwich. It’s more like an LCD panini, if you will. The result is an LCD-based TV that looks as close to OLED as I’ve seen yet.
Color us impressed.
— By Caleb Denison
Wearable: Diesel On Fadelite
By focusing on what makes the design of its traditional watches successful, Diesel has given the On Fadelite a desirability rarely seen in smartwatches. The translucent color scheme is stunning.
The transparent model, with its rainbow finish on the case and clasp, will absolutely stand out on your wrist. The new special edition, which was created in partnership with modern artist Mad Dog Jones, gives the range even more appeal.
While the tech may not break new ground, the On Fadelite blurs the line between smart and traditional watch design like few others. Diesel also capitalizes on its fashion knowledge, showing how it understands trends, colors, and the need to appeal to its core fan base at all times.
Few other smartwatch makers create new watch designs with the success of Diesel, and the On Fadelite is the best smartwatch we’ve seen from the company so far. It’s a true stunner that’ll look perfect on your wrist.
— By Andy Boxall
Tech for Change: Impossible Pork
If you think Impossible Pork is just a minor evolution on Impossible Burger 2.0, you’re dead wrong. It’s a big deal.
Why? Besides the fact that it’s ridiculously tasty, it’s a huge win for the environment. Americans are partial to cows and chickens, but as it turns out, pork is the most popular and widely consumed meat in the world. That means production of pork is among the biggest causes of environmental destruction on the planet.
Impossible Pork has the potential to reduce that damage by providing pork lovers around the globe with a plant-based alternative that’s indistinguishable from the real thing. We had a sample of Impossible Pork at CES this year and were blown away by how convincingly pork-like it is.
The flavor, texture, fat content, and even the color is so dialed in we couldn’t tell the difference. Soon, making the environmentally friendly choice won’t mean compromising on flavor. If there’s anything at CES that could make an impact on climate change in the next few years, this is it.
— By Drew Prindle
Check out more CES 2020 standouts
- Best TVs of CES 2020
- Best laptops of CES 2020
- Best gaming laptops of CES 2020
- Best smartphones of CES 2020
- Best smartwatches of CES 2020
- Best headphones of CES 2020
- Best soundbars of CES 2020
- Best cars of CES 2020
- Best concept cars of CES 2020
- Best monitors of CES 2020
- Best robot vacuums of CES 2020
- Best smart home tech of CES 2020
- Best smart locks of CES 2020
- Best smart security cameras of CES 2020
- Best health gadgets of CES 2020
- Best mobile accessories of CES 2020
- Digital Trends Names BrainCo Dexus Prosthetic Arm Top Tech of CES 2020
- CES 2020 Day 3 Recap: VR headsets, a robot arm, and everything you missed
- The coolest products Samsung showed off at CES: Ballie, Neon, and lots of TVs
- CES 2020 Day 1 Recap: Flying taxis, Impossible Pork, and 5G laptops
- CES 2020: What to expect from the annual tech show this week