There are some Cayman residents who never miss the Consumer Electronics Trade Show, the gadgets extravaganza in Las Vegas every January. As usual, it had plenty of innovation, some stunning products and, of course, the craziest gadgets on the planet.
The newly revealed products will arrive in stores over the coming months. If Caymanians can’t them here, a hop to Miami could solve the problem if they can’t wait to import it. Here are some of the best devices from CET 2019 to look forward to.
Sony Glass Sound Speaker
This gadget manages to be both mainstream and quirky. It’s a wireless speaker (Bluetooth and Wi-Fi) with a delicate, beguiling tone that is highly attractive.
But it looks like something Florence Nightingale might carry because it has a glass cylinder growing out of it, with a light at its base.
In fact, the glass vibrates, and its resonance is what creates the booming sound.
The light can even be set to flicker like a candle. It is perfect for romantic candlelit dinners, though not cheap at around $600.
Royole FlexPai folding smartphone
A smartphone with a flexible screen that folds out to become a tablet, this was a hot gadget in Vegas.
But it will need to move quickly to work – Samsung has said its own folder will be out in the coming months.
The Royole seems it will likely have a beefy spec. It's rumoured to have Qualcomm's latest Snapdragon 855 processor and a couple of different memory options - 6GB and 8GB.
The folding screen is, obviously, the main attraction. How the phone performs remains to be seen, but the idea itself and the execution seems solid.
Royole has tested the folding mechanism and says it's good for 200,000 articulations. That should see most people through the normal life of the device without problems.
There are certain issues with folding phones, such as the aspect ratio. A regular display looks almost square when unfolded or, for it to look like a regular tablet, it requires a wider-than-usual display when in phone mode. But it’s a sign of the future.
The FlexPai will cost around $1,300 for the 128GB model and about $1,450 for the 256GB variant. Hardly affordable but not earth-shatteringly costly either.
Panasonic GZ2000 4K OLED TV
When it comes to home entertainment, the big story at CES 2019 was undoubtedly around 8K TV technologies, doubling the already-impressive pixel count of the now-de facto 4K screen.
But 4K may still yet to have had its finest hour, if the Panasonic GZ2000 4K OLED TV screen is anything to go by. HDR10+, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos and support for the leading voice-activated smart controllers, the Panasonic GZ2000 has got it all in a package that’s courting even the brightest minds in Hollywood’s creative communities.
When watching sport, the roar of the crowd seems no longer just coming from in front of you.
Withings Move ECG
Withings makes spectacularly good health products and its smartwatches appeal because they have analogue hands like, you know, a real watch.
This latest model, out in the spring, will include an ECG (electrocardiogram) monitor, something only the Apple Watch Series 4 has, and only in the US for now. This will be rather cheaper, at $150.
An ECG reading occurs when you press on the watch glass. The Withings watch has a secondary dial which shows how close you are to your steps target, too. Oh, and unlike the Apple Watch, this will be compatible with Android phones, too.
This was one of the coolest innovations at the show and comes from Sphero, makers of spherical robots and a brilliant Star Wars R2-D2 toy.
But the company’s toys have always had a considerable educational angle to them, encouraging youngsters to learn how to code, for instance.
Now, with Specdrums, there’s a musical angle, too. Two silicone rings fit to your fingers and when you touch a colour, then notes, loops or beats will sound. The twist is that it responds to colour, so reds will make one sound and greens another. Very smart.
Technics SL-1210 turntable
Back in the seventies, Technics released a turntable designed for DJs and turntable wizards generally. It was incredibly popular and highly praised because it was well-built, very reliable and easy to use.
There have been updates since then, but this is the first for almost a decade. The new model, in a cool matte-black finish, includes features such as the capability to spin the disc in the opposite direction and neat features such as a long-life white LED positioned to make it easier to see the stylus tip when you’re trying to place it in dim, or no, light. It goes on sale in a few months for around $1,000.
A pet feeder is straightforward enough, but what if it had facial recognition? So Duchess doesn’t eat Rover’s food, for instance.
This is also useful if you have two dogs, say, with different dietary needs.
Mookie’s facial recognition technology is not dissimilar to that installed on your smartphone. It bans domestic food thieves and assures that your cat or dog gets the right amount of daily food as intended.
Or, if you leave the Mookie in the garden, you can be sure that a stray cat won’t sneak in and eat it.
There are two food bowls with separately opening lids. It’s on sale in the autumn for around $200.
The NuraLoop earphones will contain the same personalised audio-tuning technology that made the original Nuraphone headphones so good. The personalised audio tuning via the Nura app measures how your ears hear and whether you're overly or under-sensitive to certain frequencies. The app then adjusts the settings in the headphones, and you get amazing sound quality as a result.
The original Nuraphones were rather large and heavy, which wasn't conducive to mobile use while out and about and commuting. But the NuraLoop are set to fix that with wireless earbuds that Nura says will have "all-day" battery life.
The NuraLoops will also come with active noise-cancelling, the new Bluetooth 5 standard for longer range, water-resistance, and even a headphone cable and headphone jack for times when you need a wired connection, like on a plane.