What we learned at CES 2014

big trends to watch for at ces 2015 2014 review

We came. We saw. We shocked the bejeezus out of ourselves with a weird iPhone stun gun case. All in all, CES 2014 was a massive success – the year that the tech world’s biggest trade show shed its dead weight and started to look lively again – which answers one of our big questions about the show. Just as we expected, this year’s CES offered a healthy dose of innovation and straight-up awesomeness. And the whole team here at Digital Trends is more pumped than we’ve been in a long time about the year in tech to come.

But there’s some business to attend to before we get ahead of ourselves: Prior to CES 2014, I identified five questions about the future of tech that I hoped the show would answer. With the image of Las Vegas literally fading out of view beneath my flight out of this sordid town, here’s a rundown of what I found.

Will wearable tech be something people want to wear?

It’s getting there, slowly.

Razer_NabuThe rise of the wearable tech category at CES 2014 came as no surprise. There were a staggering number of wearables announced this year – some of them great, some just ridiculous. And, overall, the category still has a long way to go before breaking out of its niche.

Pebble’s classy new line of smartwatches and Razer’s fitness band represent perhaps the best in wearable tech at the moment. But you’re still not going to be able to ditch your smartphone for something you wear on your wrist. So keep watching this space as the year goes on. It’s going to get very crowded very fast. 

Will 4K break out of its luxury niche?

Definitely.

We suspected 4K Ultra HD technology would dominate CES 2014 – and we were right. Televisions, monitors, cameras, content streams, big business deals, and sheer excitement in the industry are fueling the 4K Ultra HD ecosystem even more quickly and fiercely than we imagined.

There were a staggering number of wearables announced this year – some of them great, some just ridiculous.

While giants like Samsung and LG are truly pushing the technology forward, it may be Vizio – a company traditionally branded as ‘budget’ – that does the most to land 4K Ultra HD in our homes. We were blown away by its 4K offerings this year. And amazingly enough, its 4K Ultra HD lineup will start at just $1,000 for a 50-inch display.

Everything that needs to happen for far superior video and displays to wash over our leisure time is happening. High five!

Does 3D printing have what it takes to go mainstream?

It’s headed that way, but not quite there.

Let’s be honest: The most general use for 3D printers is using them to create nifty plastic toys. That’s a sad way to think of a technology that many believe will one day revolutionize the world in countless ways. But now that we have that little caveat out of the way, let me just say this: 3D printing is really getting exciting.

MakerBot-hedThis is mostly thanks to MakerBot, which announced three new 3D printers at CES 2014 – one of which, the Replicator Mini, won Digital Trends’ coveted Best in Show award. But it’s not just MakerBot’s smaller, less expensive, easier-to-use Replicator that is pushing 3D printing closer and closer to our living rooms; it’s the company’s entire ecosystem. The Thingiverse database of downloadable, printable designs; mobile and desktop apps; and straight-up well-designed products that make us want to blow the next $1,375 we can free up to start printing whatever our minds can create.

So, will every house in America have a 3D printer by next year’s CES? Not a chance. But devices like the Replicator Mini are the reason why they will sometime soon.

Can the dream of a connected home become a reality?

Sure, but manufacturers are still figuring out what to do with it.

Some of the products we saw, like Sleep Number’s X12 mattress, which uses sensors to give you the perfect night sleep, are just no-brainers – clear improvements over ‘dumb’ matresses that don’t lift a finger to make your rest better. Sadly, it costs $8,000. You also have devices like PointGrab’s gesture-controlled PointSwitch that fill in the nuts and bolts of this always-connected future, or the bevy of “smart” light bulbs that are genuine improvements over earlier iterations.

On the flip side? Internet-connected refrigerators and washing machines you can send text messages to. We’ve been seeing some version of these devices for years and years. And they still seem a bit … unnecessary. Just because you can connect something to the Internet doesn’t mean you should, or that it will make the average person’s life any better.

We want the Internet of Things and the connected home to usher in the amazing future of living we’ve dreamed about. But the industry needs to start thinking long and hard about what’s actually an improvement, and what’s just novelty.

Home Theater

Now-canceled ‘Daredevil’ was one of Netflix’s most popular shows

Netflix recently canceled Marvel's Daredevil just a month after the premiere of the show's third season, despite reports indicating that it was one of the service's most popular shows.
Home Theater

New TV? Here's where to go to watch the best 4K content available

Searching for content for your new 4K UHD TV? Look no further. We have every major source of the best 4K content, along with the cost, hardware requirements, and features that make each service worth a look.
Mobile

Upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10 models may have two, three, or even four rear lenses

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Movies & TV

Brie Larson powers up in the latest 'Captain Marvel' trailer

Academy Award winner Brie Larson will play Captain Marvel in the upcoming Marvel Studios movie hitting theaters in March 2019. Here's everything we know about Marvel's first female-led superhero movie.
Home Theater

Here’s why you’re not getting Netflix in HD or 4K, and how to fix it

Are you having trouble watching your favorite movies or TV shows on Netflix in HD or 4K? We explain why loading takes so long, why the picture quality fluctuates, and what you can do about it.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Product Review

Sennheiser brings audio perfection to wireless earbuds like no one else can

Sennheiser took its time entering the true wireless earbud market, and the results are what you’d expect from the storied audio brand. The new Momentum offer seamless operation, best-in-class sound, and a high price tag to match.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

OLED or LED? We pick the winner in the battle of competing TV tech

The acronyms OLED and LED sound and look very similar, but the two technologies are vastly different in terms of engineering, performance, and capabilities. Which technology wins when you pit OLED versus LED in a TV?
Home Theater

Sling TV ramps up its base programming with Discovery Networks for free

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.