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CES 2019 review—Alexandra Harding offers her perspective on the show and what’s new and exciting on the horizon in consumer technology

January 28, 2019

On Jan. 8–11, about 180,000 people from all over the world converged in Las Vegas for the granddaddy of all consumer electronics shows—CES 2019. As you know, it’s the event that sets the stage for the coming year in tech. But what was shown—and what cool things can we expect to see this year?
 
Ingram Micro’s own Alexandra Harding, director of vendor management, business and consumer solutions, shares some highlights from the event.
 
In fact, for Alex, one personal highlight came in the form of industry recognition. On Jan. 8, Alex was honored with a 2019 Legacy Award during a reception by Women in Consumer Technology (WiCT). The awards are given to honor “exceptional women who are transforming the consumer technology industry through leadership in the retail, sales and marketing, integration, publishing, and trade association segments,” according to the group, which promotes the advancement of women in the consumer technology business.
 
On scene at the CES show: 6 categories that “wowed”
 
8K and oversize TVs: TVs at CES 2019 were bigger than ever—in every possible sense. Not only were they physically larger (up to 98", as seen by Samsung and Sony), many sets now feature higher-than-4K resolution. To optimize content in the absence of real 8K content, Samsung also featured a new chip that contains built-in AI learning. Basically, it takes regular content and upgrades it to make it appear like 8K. With AI built-in, the chip continually reviews the content being delivered and determines how best to upscale it to broadcast the best picture quality. 
 
Another related CES bombshell: For the first time ever, Apple opened up its ecosystem to work with TV makers. That means that your Samsung TV (as well as those from Sony, LG and Vizio) can work with the AirPlay 2 system, which uses iPhones, iPads or Mac computers to control video, music and photo playback on the TV from numerous apps. Meanwhile, Samsung TVs will have exclusive access to the iTunes app on-screen, enabling even simpler access to iTunes movies and TV shows. That’s huge.
 
Connected smart home: Smart home solutions were all over CES this year. Many vendors displayed their own ecosystems—from doorbells and lights to cameras and even a new app- and voice-controlled device that dispenses home fragrance via inkjet technology. But the innovations didn’t stop there. Solutions for the connected smart home have now branched out to the yard, with expanded outdoor lighting, soil moisture monitoring and more.
 
Smart health tech: Other cool gadgets at CES promised new ways to stay fit, eat healthier or measure your biometrics. Alex saw home health kits that test hearing and vision (and even go so far as to have glasses made and sent to you). Other health tech devices on display included a new smartwatch that doubles as a blood pressure cuff, a portable ultrasound machine and a wearable vest that monitors heart health and transfers data to your physician. Whatever your ailment, the diagnosis is in—healthcare is definitely becoming virtual.
 
Gaming PCs and accessories: No CES show would be complete without a slew of gaming laptops—with new shapes, new features and hot new accessories. Much of the tech is driven by the rise of e-sports venues across the nation (with Las Vegas committed to becoming the e-sports capital of the world). This category is already popular—and could soon become massive.
 
Virtual reality: Another strong presence at CES was virtual reality (VR). Of course, we saw the latest VR offerings from Samsung, as well as the latest headset from Pico—the Pico G2 4K VR headset. It’s a 4K version of the Goblin 2 standalone headset (revealed last August) but the G2 4K headset is powered by a Snapdragon 835 chipset (the same processor seen in the Oculus Quest and a step above the 821 in Oculus Go), weighing in at 278 grams.
 
5G: No attendee at CES could have missed the buzz around 5G—the new generation of faster, more reliable mobile connectivity that will start rolling out in markets in 2019. Intel and Qualcomm both had huge booths, where they offered demos of 5G and presented it as an essential component for powering smart cities, businesses, airports, municipalities and smart transportation in the not-too-distant future.
 
Last but not least, Alex offers her pick for “coolest technology” at CES 2019—the prototype of a flying 5-person taxi called the Bell Nexus. With roads in major cities becoming increasingly clogged, Uber is proposing a flying taxi service that would use craft like the Bell Nexus to get people from Point A to Point B by the year 2023.
 
“All in all, CES 2019 was an amazing show,” said Harding. “We saw a preview of the transportation of the future, plus all the latest solutions that can make our connected homes smarter, safer and more convenient than ever.”