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This year's Consumer Electronics Show was full of interesting technology (and a few interesting characters) — but the show is so big and busy that it's hard to remember just what exactly that tech was. Here are the bits of CES we found most memorable.
The most visible trend this year was wearables, but not just the usual step-tracking fitness bands. Existing wearables are getting smarter, like Sony's SmartBand, which pulls in pictures and updates from social networks to integrate with your physical activity. And although the smartwatches on display were largely forgettable, the well-received Pebble got a nice-looking, waterproof metal upgrade.The personal health aspect of wearables is getting emphasized, as well. The June wristband keeps track of your UV exposure, and Reebok's Checklight monitors head movements during sports to warn of possible concussions (scroll past the weirder wearable tech in this article to read more).
If you asked anybody at Samsung, Sony, LG, Sharp, Vizio or a dozen other companies, they would tell you that the hottest new thing at CES is ultra high-definition TVs. With four times the pixels of 1080p, these 4K sets are indeed sharp as a tack — though some experts say the difference is almost imperceptible when you're watching from a normal distance. You can probably see it with a 20-inch tablet on your lap, though.The other concern is that there isn't much in the way of content for 4K TVs. After all, even Hollywood features are often shot at far lower resolution than that, and few channels or devices support it (and most Americans still own a VCR). But Netflix is getting behind 4K, at least with the shows that have the budget to shoot in UHD, like "House of Cards."
The older generation may yearn for the days when kids were entertained by a stick and a piece of string, but today's tots are getting a bit more than that — for example, Bluetooth-controlled paper airplanes. We also were charmed by the Ozobot, which follows lines drawn on devices or paper and responds to color-based commands. And the MOSS robotic building blocks promise LEGO-like possibilities, creating remote-control cars while learning the rudiments of programming. Polaroid's tiny C3 camera may not be a toy, strictly speaking, but it sure looks like one — maybe it could be baby's first camera.
What's a big show like CES without a couple high-profile mishaps? Trash-talking T-Mobile CEO John Legere, just before announcing a plan to pay families to break their contracts with AT&T and Verizon, was kicked out of an AT&T party at the Palms. Why was he at his competitor's soiree? "I just wanted to hear Macklemore."
And who can forget director Michael Bay's incredibly awkward, stammering walkout (above, in GIF form) in the middle of Samsung's press event? He later apologized and explained, but at the time it was mystifying and more than a little uncomfortable to watch.
Gaming's next steps
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have just come out, but that doesn't mean nothing else is happening in gaming. A new prototype virtual reality headset from Oculus VR made a splash despite not even having a booth — believe us when we say it's immersive, and miles beyond the already-impressive original.
The PlayStation Now super-simple streaming service and Valve's Steam Machines could make it easier than ever to put games in your living room. The shape of gaming is changing — and these companies are at the forefront.
There is a lot of stuff at CES, but not everything falls under the few categories above. E-cigarettes, for instance, are taking off in terms of tech and sales. Your iPhone is now a thermal camera. A smart home means that from your fridge to your mattress, every item in your home might soon have a chip in it. And then, of course, there were the dozen or more 3-D printers and scanners on display.
With miles of hallways and over 150,000 attendees, CES is too big to capture in a week's worth of posts, much less a single one. Keep an eye out for continuing coverage of the trends and devices that were on display in Las Vegas.