Geektopolis returns

Granted, January 2022 didn’t find us back to a regular Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show (CES)—as a number of exhibitors and journalists, (including yours truly) stayed home and covered the event remotely once more.

By Marc Saltzman

But the 55th CES in Sin City still managed to impress with several hundred products unveiled for the first time and a glimpse into the near future of consumer electronics trends. After all, it’s the show that launched such important tech products as the camcorder and CD player (1981), DVDs (1996), HDTV (1998), DVR (1999), satellite radio (2000), Xbox (2001), Blu-ray Disc (2003) Smart TV (2005), tablets (2010), driverless cars (2013) and 4K UHD TVs (2014). Read on for a sampling of some of my standouts from the 2022 show:

Game on (and on) with this playable table
Arcade 1Up has enjoyed success over the years with its line of retro game cabinets—those 3/4-sized arcade machines that host classics like Galaga and Ms. Pac-Man, as well as countertop, sit-down head-to-head models and virtual pinball tables.

Their newest gaming experience, however, is the Infinity Game Table ($799 for 24-inch, $999 for 32-inch), a touchscreen tabletop that hosts iconic board games that can be played by up to six people—Monopoly, Scrabble, Battleship, Connect-4, Candyland, Sorry and Trivial Pursuit, among others. Just use your fingertip on the water– and impact-resistant high-resolution display.

Support for haptic feedback means you will feel a slight tactile vibration when, say, rolling the dice or sinking a battleship. The game table’s legs are removable, should you want to play on your kitchen table. And, because it’s Wi-Fi-enabled, players can compete against others around the world and purchase new games from an online store.

Go with the flow 
Moen isn’t new to touchless faucets, but its latest model, the Smart Faucet with Motion Control, seems like something out of a sci-fi movie to me. Like some other Moen models, this kitchen faucet lets you wave your hand in front of the sensor to start or stop the flow of water—but with the Smart Faucet you can us gestures to control temperature as well. Swipe left for hot, right for cold or down for warm. A companion app (available for iOS and Android) lets you set default temperatures and gestures, based on your personal preferences.

If you have an Alexa- or Google-enabled smart speaker nearby, you can ask for a specific temperature and amount of water. Place a pot underneath the faucet and ask for two cups of hot water. There’s also an app to create pre-sets, like “coffee maker,” “dog bowl,” or “baby bottle,” with desired amounts and temperatures. Baking enthusiasts can even request precise measurements.

It will be available this spring, says Moen (price is TBD), and the company showed off some sleek-looking models without handles at all, coming in late 2022.

Moving from the kitchen to the bathroom, Kohler debuted its PerfectFill technology at CES 2022, which lets you fill up (and also drain) the bathtub by using your voice via a compatible Google or Alexa smart speaker.

Multitasking parents, for example, could fill the tub for the kids while still cleaning up after dinner in the kitchen. You can specify the desired volume (like half a tub) and temperature (say, 95 degrees Fahrenheit). Along with voice support, the Kohler Konnect app can be used to control bath time, with the option to program up to 10 different bath settings (mom may prefer a full tub at 105F).

Also incorporating PerfectFill technology, Kohler’s even more impressive (and no doubt pricier) Stillness Bath will be in stores in 2022. Smart features combines water, light, fog and aroma to create an “at home spa-like experience.” No Canadian price has been announced yet.

Size matters
Also at CES, LG Electronics took the wraps off the world’s largest OLED TV, at 97 inches. In a word, wow.

Incase this 2022 G2 series TV is too big for the wall you’d like to hang it on, the company also unveiled an 83-inch model, to complement its existing 55-, 65- and 77-inch TVs in this class.

As you likely know, OLED (pronounced “oh-led”) screens are incredibly thin and light (making them easier to mount) because each pixel is its own light source, therefore no backlighting is required. Along with unprecedented contrast ratios (including super dark blacks) and sharp colour, these televisions are more energy-efficient than other TV panel types and enjoy wide viewing angles.

These LG models are smart, too, with the latest webOS 22, which introduces personal profiles and NFC Magic Tap (for mirroring a mobile device screen to the TV). There is also room-to-room share, which can mirror content from one TV to another in the home.

Also shown was the LG Objet TV (pronounced “ahb-jay”), a super slim and minimalist 65-inch OLED television with a motorized (and interchangeable) fabric cover that can be raised or lowered with a button press on the remote. When not in use, the TV can seemingly blend into the room décor, or have the screen partially viewed to reveal info like time and weather. LG showed it mounted to a wall and even leaning back against one. It will debut sometime in 2022.

Samsung also has some impressively thin and huge TVs, plus the South Korean company showed the Freestyle ($1,149.99), a portable projector that weighs less than 2 pounds, so it can be used to splash a movie on your ceiling (thanks to its 180-degree cradle stand) or beamed onto a wall (or the side of a tent while camping), up to 100 inches. Samsung says it also has 360-degree sound and far-field voice control. An optional battery base can be purchased separately.

On a related note, Samsung introduced an eco-friendly TV remote that doesn’t require batteries. They’ve added a solar panel to charge it up using the sun (if near a window) or regular lights in a family room. The remote also has the ability to draw in power using radio waves from devices in the home, like a Wi-Fi router.

Smarter laptops for work and play
Innovative new laptops raised eyebrows again with the unique Lenovo ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 featuring an industry-first 17.3-inch ultra-wide, 21:10 aspect-ratio primary screen along with an 8-inch secondary display to the right of the keyboard. For example, you can be engaged in a Zoom call on the main screen but jot down notes with a digital pen (included) on the smaller display.

Or a digital artist may use the 8-inch side screen as a palette and the primary screen as a canvas. An accountant or bookkeeper, on the other hand, may choose to transform the 8-inch touchscreen into a giant calculator. The smaller display can also mirror your smartphone screen. Powered by an Intel Core processor, this multitasking marvel should be out in May 2022, with prices starting at about $1,699.

Like many of the Lenovo ThinkPad laptops, ThinkBook Plus Gen 3 may also include Privacy Guard (reduces visibility at side angles) and Privacy Alert (which alerts you with a shield icon on the screen if the webcam detects someone peeking over your shoulder)!

Versatility was also demonstrated by ASUS with its Zenbook 17 Fold OLED. With a 17.3-inch computer powered by an Intel Core i7 CPU, it features a flexible panel that can be folded in half (when, say, putting it away), opened full-screen to use like a tablet with fingertips or via the Bluetooth keyboard (included) or bent slightly while held like a book.

When it ships in 2022, the ASUS Zenbook 17 Fold OLED will have a stereo quad-speaker sound system certified by Harman Kardon and supporting Dolby Atmos.

ASUS says its advanced 5-megapixel webcam also doubles as a high-resolution IR (infrared) camera for fast login, via Windows Hello facial recognition, along with an integrated sensor for automatic brightness and colour temperature control (based on the environment you’re in).

For the past 25 years, Marc Saltzman has been a recognized expert in consumer electronics, business tech, social media, and automotive trends. You can see him on CTV, Global TV, and as a keynote speaker across North America. Follow him on Twitter @ marc_saltzman.

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