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Podcast #826: CES 2018

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years - the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), it attracts the world's business leaders and pioneering thinkers.

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CES 2018

CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is the world's gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. It has served as the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies for 50 years - the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace. Owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), it attracts the world's business leaders and pioneering thinkers.



Samsung’s absurd 146-inch TV is an entire wall — hence its name, 'The Wall'

This hulking, 146-inch TV isn't just huge — it's also sporting a fancy display technology known as "micro LED," which Samsung says is at the heart of "the screen of the future." "Modular, MicroLED" sounds like a bunch of nonsense jargon, right? It's pretty much exactly that. Here's a simple breakdown of these new buzzwords: MicroLED, in the case of this TV, means, according to Samsung: "It is a self-emitting TV with micrometer-scale LEDs — which are much smaller than current LEDs, and serve as their own source of light." What that means for the average human being is that the TV doesn't need a backlight. In terms of the TV being "modular," that means anyone buying "The Wall" can customize it. "The screen can adapt to serve different purposes," says Samsung, "such as creating a wall-size display for multiple spaces." Put more simply, "modular" means that you could customize this set to be even larger (or smaller) than 146 inches. For Samsung's purposes though, the version being released this year is the 146-inch variety. (MicroLED explained)



LG Will Show Compact UHD Laser Projector At CES

LG is bringing to CES next week a home cinema laser 4K Ultra HD projector in a compact form factor.

The LG ProBeam HU80KA can project 4K UHD video content from eye level on up to a 150-inch screen image at 2,500 lumens brightness. It can also play HDR 10 content.

The projector’s mirror reflector allows users to direct the projected video straight ahead or on the ceiling, eliminating the need to lift or adjust the projector, making it useful in a variety of settings, including outdoors, the company said.

It is equipped with LG’s WebOS smart TV platform, which gives users access to popular online streaming apps with 4K content. The projector, which supports HDMI 2.0, USB 3.0 and HDCP 2.2, has optical ports and Bluetooth to enable digital and wireless connections to external sound systems, as well as connectivity with iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and other smart devices. It also features a built-in carry handle.

The HU80KA also has a 1.2x optical zoom so that users can adjust the size of their screen without moving it.

No pricing announced.


LG Display's crazy 65-inch OLED TV can roll up like a poster

Although some concept big-screen TVs shown at past CES shows have been bendy, this is the first one that's flexible enough to spin up into tube form. LG's images depict it descending into a little box the size of a sound bar, but the company also talks about making the display portable. The secret, as usual, is its paper-thin organic light emitting diode display (OLED).

Video Link -


Sony's new soundbars can virtualize Dolby Atmos sound

Sony always makes home audio products a part of its CES presentations, and 2018 is no difference. Perhaps most notable are the HT-Z9F and HT-X9000F, two soundbars that include Dolby Atmos surround sound. Of course, true Atmos requires overhead speakers, and these are just 2.1(HT-X9000F) and 3.1 (HT-Z9F) soundbars. As such, this requires some virtualization, which happens courtesy Sony's "virtual surround engine," which the company claims can replicate the wide soundstage Atmos provides. And regardless of whether you're watching content mixed for Atmos or not, the more expensive HT-Z9F include a "Vertical S" button that Sony says will provide virtual 3D sound. The HT-Z9F will retail for $900 and the HT-X9000F will cost $600 when they arrive this spring.

The new A8F series TVs are the Japanese tech giant’s latest foray into the field of OLED displays and sport an X1 Extreme processor. On the LCD side, there’s Sony’s X900F series, which also includes the X1 Extreme. Looking toward the future, Hirai said that Sony is working on an X1 Ultimate processor that will provide twice the processing power of the Extreme.

Sony’s LSPX-A1 projector looks like a piece of modern furniture, and it can sit just 9.6 inches from the wall. Despite that close distance, the 2,500-lumen laser projector is capable of beaming a screen that measures up to 120 inches diagonally. The same enclosure houses a Glass Sound Speaker with 360° sound, ensuring the best possible home theater experience without the need for any additional equipment. It’s aimed at the highest segment of the high-end market, and will carry a price tag of $30,000 when it launches.



Panasonic introduced the FZ950 and FZ800 series  line of OLED UHDTVs which use Panasonic's HCX video processor with support HDR10+. Panasonic has shown OLED TVs at previous CES but haven't released then in the US. They also introduced Ultra HD Blu-ray players, which will also have the HCX video processor, as well as support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

If you are into vinyl, Panasonic's high-end audio line, Technics, has two more models -- the SP-10R and SL-1000R. Panasonic has called the SP-10R “the most premium turntable ever”. No pricing info but the Technics turntables available today goes for around $1600.  



This $319 thermostat has Cortana built-in

We’ll no doubt see a much more focused push on that front next week at CES, but in the meantime, here’s a thermostat to hold you over. The company is getting a jump on the show by opening up pre-orders on GLAS, a thermostat designed by Johnson Controls, a 130-year-old HVAC company out of Ireland.

The smart home device is one of only a handful of non-Windows 10 PC products to feature Cortana, a list that most notably also includes Harman Kardon’s Invoke smart speaker. The assistant can be used for all of your standard home temperature related needs with controls like, say, “Hey Cortana, set the temperature to 68 degrees.” Like the Alexa-sporting Ecobee4, which was announced back in May, the thermostat also essentially doubles as a smart speaker-style product.


Bang and Olufsen BEOSOUND SHAPE

BeoSound Shape is a modular wall-mounted wireless speaker system  that consists of two-tone “tiles” that come in a wide range of colors. Each tile’s hexagonal shape is designed to fit perfectly next to other BeoSound Shape tiles, allowing people to create works of art on any wall in a room. Tiles consist of speakers, amplifiers, sound-absorbing acoustic dampeners, and a “Core” that handles connectivity. The system supports AirPlay, Chromecast, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth 4.1, and wired audio inputs.

Aura home monitoring made simple.

Just plug the Aura Beacons right into the wall for a quick and easy setup. Aura monitors the Wi-Fi radio waves to create an RF signature of your home. When the signature is are altered, Aura knows that motion is occurring and it can set off alarms or trigger smart home events as a result. Aura can filter out pet movement to eliminate false alarms.

  • See where motion occurs
  • See live motion, a 12-hour and weekly view
  • Know who comes and goes
  • Choose between 5 scenes (Home, Away, Night, Pet, Guardian)
  • Receive tailored notifications

Your activity is even synchronized with timestamps so you’ll know exactly what is happening in your home. Aura offers a starter kit for $199 that covers 700 sq ft and is available now.



JBL LINK View, a voice-controlled, smart display speaker with the Google Assistant built in. The JBL LINK View takes the listening experience a step further by incorporating an 8” high-definition display with a touch screen and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. The LINK View provides excellent sound quality, and is ideal for anyone that consumes a large amount of content daily. Users can view pictures, stream audio and video, ask questions, scan recipes, and video call with family and friends, all with their voice. The JBL View will be available on and at select retailers starting Summer 2018 in USA only, other regions will follow at a later date.


Mars wireless earbuds can translate conversations in real-time

The Google Pixel Buds made headlines last year thanks to their ability to seemingly translate speech on the fly. The headphones used Google Assistant and a Google Pixel 2 phone to translate foreign languages straight into your ears. The Mars earphones on show at CES 2018 promise to take it a step further, working with any Android or iOS phone, and enabling person-to-person real-time translation. Thanks to the two separate wireless earbuds, one user can wear one earbud, one person the other, and using an app on a smartphone you can translate a previously disjointed conversation. There's no official price as yet, but the Mars earbuds are scheduled for release in the summer.



With the first release of initial 5G standards in December 2017, flagship 5G smartphones will be on store shelves in early 2019, predicted Qualcomm president Cristiano Amon. And the rollout of 5G phones will occur “very fast” because of 5G’s 30x improvement in latency, which lets phone makers keep the price of phones down by offloading phone memory to the Cloud.

5G can “transform industries,” added Verizon EVP Hans Vestberg. Nonetheless, 5G’s capabilities will also benefit cellphone users and enable new smartphone use cases, said Qualcomm’s Amon. Over a phone, social networks will deliver “social presence” with real-time interaction among users, and banks will be able to transform their consumer apps to let consumers execute more types of banking transactions over the phone instead of going to a bank branch, Amon added.

For its initial 5G rollout, Verizon will turn on commercial wireless-broadband service to homes in three to five markets late this year, Vestberg said.



  • High bandwidth: This will let 5G replace broadband cable service, enabling streaming of even 4K VR/AR and 8K videos.
  • Low latency: Enables autonomous cars to constantly coordinate with traffic systems and other vehicles.
  • Security: Features to ensure security have been baked into 5G from the start to guarantee that vehicles cannot be taken over and weaponized.
  • Larger networks: With plenty of spare capacity, larger networks will host millions of internet of things (IoT) devices, including low-bandwidth appliances that will intermittently connect to the internet.
  • Greater scale: The massive scale of 5G will enable big public and privately owned spaces, including entire cities, hospitals, and manufacturing plants, to come online for remote access. This includes everything from cameras to computer systems. (5G was initially designed so that connected, automated businesses could be managed remotely.)






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