Feature

Electronics: A glimpse of what’s coming next

Many of the predictions coming into this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show were “right on the money.”

Now we’ve seen the future, said Hayley Tsukayama in The Washington Post. This year’s International Consumer Electronics Show wrapped up in Las Vegas last week, and many of the predictions coming into this year’s show were “right on the money.” Manufacturers were especially keen to tout curved screens on smartphones and televisions. “The idea is that, by watching TV with a curved screen, viewers will feel more immersed in the program or video.” They’re also talking up the next generation of high-definition video, said Brett Molina in USA Today. So-called Ultra HD or 4K television provides resolution four times “sharper than the current generation of high-definition sets.” YouTube and Netflix are already planning to roll out Ultra HD content, but it takes big bucks to buy a set to play it: “For example, LG’s 84-inch UHD display is priced at $17,000.”

Don’t waste your money, said Farhad Manjoo in The Wall Street Journal. These latest gimmicks just prove that “TV is stuck in an innovation cul-de-sac.” Curved screens strike me as a pointless feature, and even if higher resolution takes off, “you’ll need an Internet connection capable of 15 megabits per second to get it—which is about twice as fast as the average American broadband line.” Forget it—just “go ahead and buy a cheap TV.”

“Talk of the smart home” was a big topic in Las Vegas, too, said Chris O’Brien in LATimes.com. This year’s electronics show reflected a “deeper push to connect every corner of the home,” including a new offering from LG called Home Chat, which allows users to control their home appliances via text message. And Samsung has rolled out its Smart Home app, “creating a single place where consumers can manage all these appliances” from their smartphone or tablet.

But “the biggest fad right now is for wearable devices,” said Samuel Gibbs and Charles Arthur in The Guardian (U.K.). Along with smartwatch offerings from Samsung and Pebble, we’re seeing “smart jewelry” that “monitors your skin’s ultraviolet exposure.” Health-conscious consumers are being enticed with improved wearables that track performance while you exercise. So “will we have smart ovens by Christmas that will know how to cook turkey while we watch football on 4K TVs, monitoring our sofa habits with wristbands?” Probably not. “But CES is always about the promise—not necessarily the product.”

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