Every year the Consumer Electronics Show features gadgets from manufacturers designed to both show off their technical achievements while giving consumers a glimpse of what will soon be on store shelves. Whether people decide to purchase said products is another story. Sure, that rollable television might be cool and up for grabs by Christmastime, but here's the tech that will actually matter in 2018.
Image credit: Ethan Miller/Getty
Get Ready For Wireless Charging Everywhere
Image credit: iOttie
If you need a wireless charging pad for your new iPhone, 2018 has you covered. With five debuting from accessory maker Belkin alone, you'll have a pretty wide-ranging selection to choose from.
Don't like Belkin's look? Take a look at iOttie's charging pads, which are fabric-covered and use USB-C ports (thank God). Charging car mounts, dual charging pads and charging stands in a variety of styles, materials, shapes and price ranges will all be available in 2018 for your purchasing pleasure. And since wireless charging competitor PowerMat is adopting the Qi wireless standard in its future products, it's a safe bet to say the one charging method that works between iOS and Android smartphones is set to blow up this year.
Sure, Android loyalists will remind us they have had smartphones with Qi wireless charging long before Apple, but it's almost like no one cared until Tim Cook added support to its iPhone 8 and iPhone X devices, smartphones that seemingly dictate the direction in which technology marches.
Robotic Companions are Still (Mostly) Bad
Image credit: LG
If you thought you'd be adding a robotic companion to your home this year, think again. Not only are the robots available from companies such as LG pretty light on traditional robotics, they're incredibly expensive, surprisingly particular in their use, and just plain boring to look at.
Luckily, the one robot that matters is back in the game: Sony's Aibo robotic canines are back, baby. Sure, they're only available in Japan, and cost ¥198,000 ($2241), but taking care of a robotic dog that can recognise your face, respond to touch, and requires a subscription is probably worth the high price tag, especially since you don't have to smear sunscreen on it's nose to brave blazing summers.
Here Comes the All-in-One Voice Assistant
While Amazon's Echo line and Google's trio of Home devices brought voice assistants into more homes than ever, 2018 seems to be the year where your voice assistant will live, well, everywhere.
Google dominated this year's event (after Alexa's integration with basically everything at CES 2017) and showed off a plethora of new Assistant-enabled devices from companies such as LG, Lenovo and Sony, featuring "smart displays" that show off information such as your schedule, cooking recipes and other visual accoutrements whenever you ask your Assistant for something. You'll also find Assistant integration inside more headphones, televisions - even in new cars, thanks to Android Auto, which is already available in over 400 car models.
VR is Good Now
Virtual reality headsets are back at CES, and this time they're a lot better. HTC showed off its Vive Pro, an upgraded version of its first VR headset, complete with a higher-resolution display and optional wireless adaptor. That means you'll be able to walk around your virtual space with no cables dangling behind you (although you'll still look like a weirdo).
Not to be outdone, Google and Lenovo are releasing a standalone VR headset powered by Google's Daydream VR platform. The Lenovo Mirage Solo, provides smartphone-quality virtual reality without requiring you to stick your smartphone in front of your face. Coupled with an optional Mirage Camera accessory designed to record 3D content, your next Christmas gift might be one that immerses you in a world just for you (just don't bump into anything).
Your Fancy TV is Already Outdated
Just got that 4K television for Christmas, huh? Cute. Oh, before I forget: The future's here, and it's called 8K. LG showed off its 8K concept television, an 88-inch wide OLED behemoth that houses 33 million pixels, enough to make you wonder what you're still doing with that rinky-dink 4K television. Pitiful. The company also showed off a pretty novel 65-inch television that, because of its flexible plastic display, can be literally unrolled from its fashionable storage container.
Got a console hooked up to your TV? Gamers should start saving up for an NVIDIA-powered "Big Format Game Display" designed to bring 4K resolution and minimal lag to gamers with deep pockets.
Thanks to its NVIDIA Shield integration, you'll be able to stream games from your own PC (in 4K) or using the GeForce NOW streaming service (in 1080p). That means you can play high-end PC games or Android apps (including your usual streaming services such as Netflix) using just a controller and a Big Format Game Display. Asus, Acer and HP are all on board with the technology, and will be releasing 65-inch Big Format Gaming Displays later this year, which might be your next television if you're in the market for one when they're released.
Please, No More Ultra-Thin Laptops
Image credit: Acer
Acer has reclaimed the trophy for "world's thinnest laptop" with the second-generation Acer Swift 7. When you look at the trade-offs, however, one hopes it isn't a sign of things to come. That 8.98mm-thin laptop features a built-in fingerprint sensor, zero USB-A ports, only two USB-C ports, one headphone jack, a camera positioned at the bottom of the screen (so it points up your nose), and optional 4G LTE connectivity (which is very cool).
Dell also debuted a pretty thin laptop, a refresh of its XPS 13 laptop, complete with zero USB-A ports. Unfortunately, 2018 looks like it will be steering clear of USB-A entirely. While that's great for future-proofing devices, it makes your current set of gadgets that much harder to charge or connect to your computer without a damn dongle.