Every year, I dig into the press releases and reporting coming from the CES show floor, so you don’t have to. The pandemic took the wind out of CES’s sails for a few years, but the show and interesting gadgets have made a comeback for 2024, with a wide range of announcements made in the days leading up to the show, which doesn’t even officially start until tomorrow. I’ll be back with more updates throughout the week, but here are some of the announcements that have caught my eye so far.
NVIDIA revealed that it’s adding G-Sync variable refresh rate technology to its GeForce NOW game streaming service. The same service will add day passes beginning in early February, allowing gamers to stream games from the company’s RTX 4080 servers for $8. During its presentation, NVIDIA revealed that Horizon Forbidden West will launch on the PC with DLSS 3 support and Diablo IV will feature RTX ray-tracing in March.
Finally, NVIDIA introduced the RTX 4080 Super and RTX 4070 Ti Super. Both graphics cards offer improved performance over the models they are replacing in the lineup, with the 4080 Super getting a price cut compared to the 4080 it replaces. According to NVIDIA:
the GeForce RTX 4080 SUPER can power fully ray-traced games at 4K. It’s 1.4x faster than the RTX 3080 Ti without frame gen in the most graphically intensive games. With 836 AI TOPS, NVIDIA DLSS Frame Generation delivers an extra performance boost, making the RTX 4080 SUPER twice as fast as an RTX 3080 Ti.
2023 saw some excellent gaming laptop releases, but progress marches on, and for 2024, we’ve got more Hz, nits, and more. Razer says it will be pushing its Blade 16 laptop to the next level with a 240Hz OLED screen, while its 18-inch model will get a 165Hz 4K LED panel with G-Sync. Both will show 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut too. The screens on these new Razer laptops sound great, but the real question that won’t be answered until they’re in player’s hands is just how well they can run the most demanding games.
Both LG and Samsung are showing off transparent TVs at CES. The LG 77-inch TV is based on OLED technology and will be available later this year at an unspecified, likely nose-bleed, price. You can even beam content to LG’s OLED T wirelessly from across the room. Chris Welch of The Verge got a demo of LG’s TV and was impressed.
Samsung’s transparent MicroLED TV is on display on the show floor, too, but sadly, remains a mere prototype.
There are plenty of other TVs being released at CES this year from LG, Samsung, and others, but most of the announcements so far are incremental updates of existing models that lean heavily into AI processing.
Last year, Roku unveiled a line of bargain-oriented TVs at CES made with partner TCL. This year, Roku is stepping up its display game with a ‘Pro Series’ line that feature Mini LED screens that come in 55, 65, and 75-inch models. According to Engadget, the TVs will be available in the US this spring.
AR and VR
In the leadup to CES, Qualcomm unveiled the Snapdragon XR2+ Gen 2, a chip that Samsung, HTC and others are expected to use to create competitors to Apple’s Vision Pro. The chip is designed to drive mixed and virtual reality devices as well as smart glasses. Among other benefits, Qualcomm touts the energy efficiency of its chip, stating that it won’t require an external battery pack, a not-to-thinly-veiled reference to the Apple Vision Pro’s external battery pack.
Also, XREAL debuted its Air 2 Ultra glasses at CES, a $699 pair of AR glasses. According to Adi Robertson of The Verge:
The Air 2 Ultra offers a 52-degree field of view compared to the 46-degree Air 2; both products feature 500 nits of brightness, a 1080p screen for each eye, and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz. The Ultra glasses are a touch heavier, though, weighing 80 grams compared to 72 grams for the standard Air 2. Like the Air 2, they can be plugged into a range of computing devices, including macOS and Windows-based computers, Samsung Android phones, and the iPhone 15. On Android, macOS, and Windows, they will support Xreal’s Nebula AR environment.
The Air 2 Ultra glasses are slated for release in March.
Mophie is filling the void left by the fact that Apple no longer makes a case that incorporates a battery. The Mophie Juice Pack works with the iPhone 15, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max and includes 2,400, 2,600, and 2,800mAh batteries respectively. Mophie says the cases will be available for pre-order in late February for $99.99.
Weird and Wonderful Gadgets
Who wants to press a button when you can talk to your bidet? That’s the premise of Kohler’s hands-free bidet seat that lets you mod your existing toilet, transforming it into something futuristic and fancy. For a mere $2149, you can connect your bidet-let (the hot new toilet/bidet combo category) to Alexa, Google Home, and Kohler’s own Kohler Konnect app but not HomeKit.
Clicks isn’t the first, and it is unlikely to be the last, keyboard case accessory for the iPhone, but it certainly looks promising. I spend most of my day typing on a proper keyboard, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Clicks appeals to that part of my brain that used to bang out articles for MacStories while riding a train into downtown Chicago, not to mention my nearly forgotten Blackberry days as a lawyer. The accessory is essentially an iPhone case that incorporates a physical keyboard at the bottom. I’m not sure how often that would fit into my daily life now, but I’m excited to try it, especially since it will support system and app-specific keyboard shortcuts. The Clicks keyboard accessory will begin shipping next month.
Moonwalkers are back at CES with a new version of their robot shoes that help you walk fast. Shift Robotics’ Moonwalkers X weigh 3.2 pounds and have six wheels per foot and sell for $1,400 (both feet included). The robot shoes strap onto your existing shoes and are meant for commercial applications, but who knows, maybe you’ll see them on a street near you soon.