If you’ve never been to CES, you can’t truly understand it. Each year, more than 3,000 tech companies gather to show off new and exciting products, turning the Las Vegas Convention Center and surrounding hotels into a massive, crazy competition for the attention (and money) of nearly 200,000 attendees.
With our editors on the ground floor — or, more accurately, spread across several floors in several buildings — Digital Trends has a front-row seat to some of the coolest tech of the present and future. Not everyone is lucky enough to attend CES, though, so we’ve cobbled together a list of the coolest, most interesting, and most awe-inspiring products that caught our eyes on the show floor.
Take a look at our live CES coverage to be a part of the action, or read on to discover some of our favorite highlights from the show.
Who needs a wall when you can have a TV? Samsung’s 146-inch MicroLED behemoth is actually made up of smaller panels “stitched” together, but if you can see those, you’re standing too close. In any case, this new type of panel is capable of producing deep blacks (like OLED) with impressive brightness (like LCD), all without worry of burn-in or degradation over time.
We don’t yet know whether MicroLED will overtake OLED as the display tech of the future (Sony’s 85-inch OLED display is mighty impressive), but The Wall is all the TV you may ever need. Until they come out with a 147-inch version, of course. Read more.
Nissan IMx concept
Do you love beautiful cars? So do we. The Nissan IMx concept is a gorgeous blend of technology and travel, both inside and out. Nissan built the IMx to dispel the notion that electric cars can’t look “tough” or “rugged.” The red and blue lighting certainly makes this look like a futuristic police vehicle, though we’re not sure that’s what they were going for.
We’ve got drones in the air, drones on the ground, and now drones in the water. The PowerDolphin is capable of capturing 4K video and photos underwater, and using sonar to create topographical maps of the ocean floor. It can even toss out bait to lure in unsuspecting fish!
While many of its applications are mundane and useful things such as aquatic search and rescue, you could also strap a shark fin on this bad boy and terrify everyone. The possibilities are endless. Read more.
Lenovo Mirage Solo
Virtual reality headsets are great, but they usually expect your phone — or your computer, if you’ve got a high-end set — to do most of the heavy lifting. The Lenovo Mirage Solo removes all of the constraints of the smartphone by taking it out of the equation.
The Solo utilizes Google’s Daydream software, and its LCD screen offers impressive resolution and surprisingly good contrast. The only downside? You end up looking like Wall-E. Read more
Sony Aibo robodog
Remember Aibo? This robotic dog has actually been around since 1999, but Sony stopped production in 2005 and didn’t resurrect it for more than 12 years. Aibo has been getting a lot of attention at CES this year — it even closed Sony’s press conference on Monday — and it’s not hard to see why.
The new Aibo’s got hundreds of different movements and animations to seem more lifelike, and A.I. learning means it’ll even grow more attached to its owners over time. Read more
LG’s 65-inch Rollable TV
What’s cooler than a big-screen TV? This Rollable OLED TV from LG, which works like a projector screen. Imagine getting ready to host a classy dinner party and simply hitting a button to retract your TV into the wall and reveal some expensive artwork.
One day, you may even be able to roll up your TV, throw it in your backpack, and take it to a friend’s house. Read more.
The Samsung Flip
Did someone say “workplace of the future”? No? Well, too bad, because that’s what you’re getting. The Samsung Flip is a smart “whiteboard” that’s really a digital display. You can draw on the Flip like a regular whiteboard, but it’s also capable of screen-sharing with other devices via near-field communication (NFC) and it features tons of cool touch controls.
This is the solution you didn’t even know you wanted, and it’s on its way to an office or school near you. Read more.
Merge 6DoF Blaster
Virtual reality startup Merge is probably best known for its ultra-affordable headset, but now the company is showing off the 6DoF Blaster, which essentially opens up the possibility of laser tag in augmented reality. The blaster tracks your movement in real time, allowing for crazy multiplayer shootouts in your living room.
Merge has also promised an open Blaster SDK, so developers can create their own compatible products. If we’re truly living in the Matrix, at least it’s fun.
How would you like to live-stream from your point of view? Vuze+ lets you capture 4K virtual reality in real time. Family, friends, and strangers could put on their virtual reality headsets and see what you see. In fact, they could probably see more. Read more.
Razor Turbo Jetts
In the unlikely event that you’ve ever looked at a pair of Heelys (they’re still around!) and said, “Those are just too classy and low-profile for my tastes,” take a look at the Razor Jetts, spur-like attachments that fit onto most any shoe and let you race around in style.
Jetts have actually been around for a while, but CES marked the first time we saw them in action, and we couldn’t leave them off our list. They even throw out sparks, for goodness’ sake!
Cloudious 9 Hydrology 9
Portable vaporizers have taken off over the past few years, dominating the cannabis tech headlines. Instead of going smaller, California-based startup Cloudious 9 went bigger — combining vaporization with a water pipe design to create the Hydrology 9, an awesome device with a name that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.
We were fortunate enough to have Cloudious 9 CEO Richard Huang at our CES booth, where we grilled him for information. Read more.
Fat Shark 101 Drone Training Kit
Drone racing is on the rise, and it’s easier to get into than you might expect. Enter Fat Shark’s 101 Drone Training Kit, an affordable, entry-level set that includes a headset, quadcopter, and a controller — everything you need to get your Top Gun on (uh, minus the guns).
The best part: You can upgrade each piece of the kit individually, so those without gobs of cash lying around aren’t left out in the cold. Read more.
Kinestral Halio smart windows
Everyone has different opinions about sunlight in the office. Some want the blinds drawn, while some prefer natural light to bleed through. On hot days, the sun can become overwhelming, beating down through clear windows to make you sweat.
Kinestral’s Halio smart windows give you control over the sun, allowing users to adjust exactly how much light to let in and blocking up to 99.9 percent of rays. The windows even support Alexa, which means you can control the sun with your voice. Yeah. Read more.
HTC Vive Pro
HTC’s Vive was already the best VR headset you could buy, but it did have a few drawbacks — namely, low resolution and shaky microphones. With the Vive Pro, VR has taken a big step forward, boasting incredible graphics, immersive 3D sound design, and massive improvements to the Viveport platform.
Sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel (after all, VR is just a few years old). HTC just sharpened its edges a whole lot. Read more.
For many, the biggest obstacle to riding a bicycle is storing a bicycle. Those who live in apartment complexes might not trust a rusty bike rack to keep a thousand-dollar bicycle safe, and bikes are just not compact enough to take inside. Except Smacircle’s S1 electric bike — it folds up in 5 steps to fit in your backpack.
Weighing in at just 15.4 pounds, the carbon-fiber S1 can carry loads up to 220 pounds, and reaches speeds above 12 miles per hour. Read more.
Furrion Prosthesis racing mech
Uh … how do we describe this? Furrion’s Prosthesis mech first debuted at CES 2017, where it turned heads, to say the least. Now, the mechs can walk, and Furrion is planning on launching a racing league for these bionic behemoths.
Frankly, these freak us out a little bit — there’s a lot of potential here for more violent uses — but you can’t argue that these 4-ton titans don’t belong on our list. Read more.
Nanoleaf remote & square panels
You may remember Nanoleaf as the company behind those snazzy Aurora triangular light panels whose color you control via smartphone. Now, the company has introduced a dodecahedron-shaped remote that lets users assign lighting presets to each side and activate them by rotating one side to the top. It’s a weird design but a cool concept.
Artec 3D Leo
Got $25,000 laying around? Well, the Artec 3D Leo scanner might be the coolest thing you could spend it on. This bad boy captures objects at 80 frames per second and automatically processes them digitally directly on the scanner’s display. Then, you can convert the scanned file and use it with 3D printers (or 5D printers, as it were).
Regarding the picture above: No, we don’t know why you would want to scan a dead body. Pretty great picture, though, right? Read more.
Vivo Fingerprint Sensor
Fingerprint scanning on smartphones is nothing new, but Vivo’s proprietary sensor actually embeds directly in the display, which means more real estate for beautiful screens and less space for annoying bezels. Plus, it’s not just concept tech — we tried it out, and it worked amazingly well.
Right now, Vivo phones aren’t sold in the U.S. or U.K., but it’s only a matter of time before the tech leaks out — or someone else figures out the secret. Read more.
Peloton effectively changed the world of home fitness in 2013 when it released an exercise bicycle with a built-in touchscreen for participating in real-time classes. The Tread is essentially the treadmill version, with a screen that’s twice as big and a built-in soundbar to keep your workout fun.
At $4,000, the Tread is a serious investment, but group learners should find it a much better value than most home treadmills on the market. Read more.
Update: We’ve removed the Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra and the Dell XPS 15 2-in-1, and added several new entries to the list.
- Get a year of PS Plus for under $40 right here
- The best cheap true wireless earbuds for 2021
- Intel will feature DDR5 and PCIe 5.0 first, but AMD won’t be far behind
- Microsoft Windows 11 preview: 11 new features we are most excited for
- The best time to buy a robot vacuum (and the worst time to buy) in 2021