Best of CES 2014

Las Vegas was where it was all happening last week, while CES 2014 was full speed ahead and great gadgets were being announced every minute. Well maybe not every minute, but that's certainly what it felt like.

After the Pocket-lint team trawled the event floor to find the latest and greatest tech, we have piled together a few of our favourites and those we consider to be the best gadgets of CES 2014.

Sony Xperia Z1 Compact

The Sony Xperia Z1 Compact brings a new standard to the "mini" flagship market featuring a downgrade in size but certainly not specs, and therefore rightly deserves to be on this list.

It features a smaller 4.3-inch display but with the same Snapdragon 800 processor, 20.7-megapixel rear camera and waterproof advantage of its bigger brother. Plus, we really liked it in the flesh and thought it was much easy to manage than the 5-inch Xperia Z1.

READ: Hands on: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review

LG 77-inch Flexible 4K OLED TV

 

LG's 77-inch flexible 4K OLED TV is one very exciting TV as it lets you control the curvature of its Ultra HD display using the TV remote.

The range of curve takes the screen size and viewing distance into account to give you the best viewing experience and even though you won't be able to get your hands on one for a while, it marks the future of curved TVs.

WATCH: LG 77-inch Flexible OLED 4K OLED TV (video)

Panasonic Lumix TZ60

The Panasonic Lumix TZ60 camera seems to have it all, taking many of the core elements that made the Lumix TZ40 so popular and adding to them.

You'll find a 18.1-megapixel sensor, along with raw shooting capability, GPS, Wi-Fi and 1080p video capture at 60fps. Plus, it adds a built-in electronic viewfinder to the range for the first time, as well as offering 30x optical zoom with physical lens control ring.

READ: Hands-on: Panasonic Lumix TZ60 review

Sony Smartband

Sony has joined the wearable tech party with the launch of the SmartBand, a great-looking wristband that is compatible with the new Sony Core tracker. It comes in three colours and the Core, which acts as the heart or brain of the SmartBand can be removed.

Rather than just tracking the number of steps you take, or calories you burn, the Sony SmartBand wants to be involved in your every move, including when you take a photo on your smartphone, how many hours sleep you've had and how long you listened to music for that day.

READ: Sony SmartBand pictures and eyes-on

Huawei Ascend Mate 2 4G

Huawei launched its Ascend Mate phablet successor featuring the same 6.1-inch display, but in a lighter, thinner shell and with the addition of 4G connectivity.

We were impressed with the Ascend Mate 2 and despite it only losing 0.4mm off its waistline compared to the original model, we found it considerably easier to manage. It is a powerful machine with a 4050mh battery that can charge yours or your friends' gadgets, which we thought was a great idea.

READ: Hands-on: Huawei Ascend Mate 2 review

Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker

A couple of years ago a smart oven was considered futuristic and now there is an internet-connected Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker about to launch, which can be controlled using your phone when you are out of the house.

Coming to the US in a few weeks for $99 (£60), the Crock-Pot uses Belkin's WeMo to connect to the internet, after which you will have full control over the cooker using the WeMo app. Sadly it doesn't place the food in there for you, but it's a brilliant idea for stew lovers. 

READ: Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo takes your casserole cooking online

Alcatel Onetouch solar panel display

Alcatel Onetouch presented a mobile phone featuring a transparent solar panel over the screen, which allows users to charge their device by just placing it in the sun.

Although the device was only a demo and won't be available commercially until 2015, it is an exciting prospect for the future of smartphones. The technology sits over the screen and hides in the display, allowing users to use the device as normal without being aware of it.

WATCH: Alcatel solar panel display (video)

Nikon D3300

Nikon introduced the D3300 DSLR to its portfolio, featuring similar specs to the D2300 predecessor but bringing a refreshed design and a new kit lens. It features the same 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor as the D2300, but the D3300 is smaller, more angular and adds the latest Expeed 4 processing engine.

It is a subtle push in the range but we think it is a welcome one. The D3300 is smaller, lighter, cooler and with the collapsible kit lens, it’s enough to warrant a place in this list.

READ: Hands-on: Nikon D3300 goes streamlined, opts for collapsible kit lens

Lamborghini Veneno Roadster

Monster teamed up with Lamborghini to supply the complete audio system for the $4.5 million Veneno Roadster, which goes from 0 to 60 in less than 2.9 seconds and has a top speed of 220mph.

The sound system costs around $50,000 to install and features an Android powered touchscreen interface that allows you to control the music, along with subwoofers in the driver and passenger footwells. To say it was loud would be an understatement.

READ: Hands-on Lamborghini Veneno Roadster

LG WebOS TV

LG launched WebOS for its TVs at CES 2014, although it is nothing like the WebOS you might know from the Palm Pre. It is quick, responsive and easy to use, bringing all the multitasking capabilities found on the phones.

The LG WebOS TV offers something different and interesting from what has been available on TVs previously and we were fans of the playful approach and speed at which we could get to what we wanted to watch.

READ: Hands-on LG WebOS TV review

Pebble Steel

Pebble has gone premium and we like it. The company introduced the Pebble Steel at CES 2014, offering a more masculine smartwatch that looks more like a watch and less like a toy.

It keeps the same foundations as the original Pebble but adds Corning Gorilla Glass protection over the display and a stainless steel encasing. The Pebble Steel connects to Android or iPhone devices and will deliver notifications to your wrist as they happen.

READ: Hands-on: Pebble Steel review

READ: Hands-on with Mercedes Pebble and Mercedes Google Glass app

Samsung NX30

The Samsung NX series of compact system cameras has plenty to offer, but the NX30 is the most feature-packed model we have seen so far.

Its standout feature is the tilt-angle electronic viewfinder, which we thought was great and the camera comes with a 20.3-megapixel APS-C sensor but adds a new autofocus system. The price has yet to be announced, but if it sits in the right place, then this camera is one to consider.

READ: Hands-on: Samsung NX30

Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro

Samsung launched four tablets at CES including the Galaxy Tab Pro range available in 12.2-inch, 10.1-inch and 8.4-inch sizes, and a 12.2-inch Galaxy Note Pro.

The Galaxy Tab Pro has a smart design and there is a new interface that is perfect for multitasking, allowing you to run four apps on the go.  We really liked the look of the Tab Pro and the Note Pro, and they are great if you need a larger screen to work up a spreadsheet or do something a little more creative.

READ: Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro review

Toshiba Kira Ultrabook (Haswell edition)

Toshiba announced the Kira Ultrabook with a 13.3-inch screen and 2560 x 1440 resolution will be coming to the UK around mid-February for £1299.

It features a Corning Concore glass covered display, Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit at its heart and 8GB of RAM, along with a 256GB mSATA SSD. The sound output was nice, with good clarity and when we saw the Ultrabook running some native 4K video, we were very impressed.

READ: Toshiba Kira Ultrabook (Haswell edition) pictures and hands on

Oculus VR Crystal Cove prototype

Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that lets you experience video games like never before, and the latest prototype adds an OLED display with a higher resolution for a crystal clear view. 

The Oculus VR Crystal Cove prototype completely encompasses your vision wherever you move your head making you believe you are in whichever virtual world you are playing. Although a final features list hasn’t been confirmed, it's the most impressive Rift we have seen so far. Mind-bogglingly so in fact.

READ: Hands-on: Oculus VR Crystal Cove prototype

Audi TT virtual cockpit digital dashboard

Audi has partnered with Nvidia to introduce a virtual cockpit powered by the Tegra 3 chipset, which will allow more dynamic use of space in front of the driver and enable customisation and 3D mapping. 

There are two views available including a classic view with the traditional dials and an infotainment view with smaller instruments and a big map for example, plus there is a touch pad to give instructions that you can see in action on our video with it. We were big fans and are looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the new TT.

READ & WATCH: Audi partners with Nvidia to put virtual cockpit into new Audio TT (video)

Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector

Sony announced the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector at CES 2014, featuring the ability to throw out a 4K image between 66-inches and 147-inches from only 20-inches away. 

It is a furniture like unit measuring 43.3 x 10.4 x 21.1-inches and it sits on the floor alongside the wall you are projecting onto. We had a look first hand and the image it produces is stunning, plus it looks good turned off too. 

READ: Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector looks brilliant, even when turned off

InfoMotion Sports Technologies 94Fifty Smart Basketball

InfoMotion Sports Technologies introduced the 94Fifty Smart Basketball featuring nine sensors inside to provide you with real-time shooting and ball-handling feedback. 

It will let relay shot speed, backspin and arc measurements to an iPhone or iPod touch (Android coming soon) via Bluetooth LE, and there are a number of training programmes offered in the app to help you improve. It's expensive but it's very clever and we can't see a better way of improving your court skills. 

READ: 94Fifty Smart Basketball is designed to help you improve your court skills

Intel Edison

Intel showcased a SD-sized computer at CES called the Edison that will be released to developers and designers in summer 2014. It features a processor, memory and flash storage and wants to be help make everyday objects "smart" and internet connected. 

The Edison can be programmed to manage I/Os and other baseline functions according to the company and it will have Linux and Android support. We got our hands on it in Las Vegas and we were astonished at how small it was.

READ & WATCH: Intel debuts SD card-sized computer called Edison (video)

Sony PlayStation Now

Sony presented the PlayStation Now streaming service for gaming at CES, which will be launched in the US this summer. 

The service will mean no downloads or installing, just the ability to dive straight in on your PlayStation Vita, PS3, PS4 or even smart TV or tablet using the PS3's DualShock controller. We played a couple of games and both ran as though they were coming from the console with very smooth streaming, even on the awful Wi-Fi. 

READ: PlayStation Now hands-on: The future of gaming, the death of the console as we know it?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2014)

Lenovo announced a new, slimmer model of its Z1 Carbon, offering the lightest 14-inch Ultrabook on the market at 13.1kg. 

There is 8GB of RAM, 512GB SSD and an Intel Core i7 processor under the hood, along with the option of two displays and a nine hour battery that can be recharged to 80 per cent in 50 minutes. It's a very good thin laptop and from what we have seen, we were very impressed.

READ: Hands-on: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2014) review

Fujifilm Finepix S1

Fujifilm announced the FinePix S1 camera at CES 2014 and although it isn't the first 50x optical zoom camera we have come across, its packed feature list suggests it could be one of the best around. 

It has a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor with 16.4-megapixel resolution, a 24-1200mm f/3.5-5.6 equivalent lens and a 3-inch LCD display, along with a 0.68-inch viewfinder panel. From what we have seen so far, it's looking rather good. 

READ: Hands-on: Fujifilm FinePix S1 review

Naim Statement

Naim introduced us to its giant pre-amp and twin mono amplifier, called the Statement, at CES 2014, which the company described as the pinnacle of its audio and design knowledge.

The Statement trio each weigh 101kg and the amount of engineering that has gone into the £125,000 product is second to none, with materials such as nano-diamond being used for thermal conductivity. It's expensive to say the least but the sound that was produced from the wired up Ovator S800 speakers was brilliant.

READ: Hands-on: Naim Statement

And finally...

Although not a product, one of the most talked about moments of CES 2014 was Michael Bay's appearance in Samsung's press conference.

Taking to the stage to talk about the virtues of the Korean company's new curved TV, Bay struggled to get his words in sync with the teleprompter, tried to "wing it" and then promptly apologised and left the stage.



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