CES 2016: Six of the best gadgets from Samsung fridge to Sony turntable
What are the best new products and gadgets of CES 2016? Roaming the vast halls of the giant Las Vegas convention, technology editor Adrian Weckler picks six worth looking at.
1. Samsung Family Hub Refrigerator
Internet fridges have had more than a few false dawns. But Samsung’s latest effort looks like it has enough everyday benefits to make it a runner in ordinary people’s lives. The fridge has cameras inside that can be accessed via your phone. In this way, you never need to wonder again whether you have enough milk. There’s also a giant, 21-inch, web-connected HD screen on the front of the fridge. You can do anything from look up recipes to watching videos on this. (Americans tend to watch more television in the morning than we Europeans do, but it could still come in handy.) In the US, you can also order groceries on the fridge screen with Mastercard, a service that is yet to be announced for Europe.
2. Withings Thermo
Withings usually comes up with something nice at CES, as last year’s Activité Pop smartwatch showed. This year, it has a knacky little wifi thermometer called Thermo. This is aimed mainly for parents with babies and very young children. You place it just above the skin on a person’s temple and it takes a temperature reading. It’s a very non-invasive, hygenic alternative to traditional thermometers. It also costs just €99.
3. LG Signature G6 Oled television
While 4K (or ‘Ultra High Definition’’ as it’s also known) has been the calling card for television technology in recent years, the latest buzz centres around ‘High Dynamic Range’ (HDR). This basically does a much better job of letting blacks and whites co-exist harmoniously on a screen while allowing much greater detail on the pictures. The big manufacturers (Samsung, Sony, LG) all have models featuring HDR this year. LG’s Signature G6 may stand out, for a couple of reasons. Aside from its super-skinniness (it’s just 2.57mm thick), the 65-inch (and also 77-inch) Oled screen has a slim stand that also acts as a decent sound bar. The telly is one of several to be certified with an Ultra HD Premium badge.
4. OpenBCI Ultracortex
Medical measurement can be very, very expensive. But 3D printing is helping to bring the costs right down. Joel Murphy’s OpenBCI has come up with a 3D-printable headset that can record brain activity (EEG), muscle activity (EMG), and heart activity (ECG). It’s capable of sampling up to 16 channels of EEG from up to 21 different system locations. It works by communicating wirelessly to a computer via a USB dongle. It can also communicate wirelessly to any mobile device or tablet.
5. Sony PSH-X500 USB turntable
USB turntables are usually a byword for low-quality gizmos. Sony is taking this one seriously, with a new model that lets you record your vinyl records into high resolution digital audio via USB. In other words, the particular sound you get from vinyl can now be almost perfectly replicated in digital format. To hear the high resolution audio in full glory, you’ll have to play back the audio on a high resolution player such as Sony’s digital Walkman. These don’t come cheap (up to €1,000) but audiophiles tend to be willing to spend that kind of money to get the sound they want.
6. Ford Fusion Hybrid
Self-driving cars have arguably become the biggest trend of CES in 2016. While many of the big manufacturers (including Volkswagen, Mercedes, Audi and Toyota) talked about them at the show, Ford actually turned up with one. Its Fusion Hybrid model looks very similar to an existing Mondeo. Its main spatial awareness technology comes in the form of two Lidar sensors on top of the car, each of which has a 200 metre detection range. They tell the car what is around it, allowing the vehicle to decide what it should do in a road situation. Ford says that it will have a completely capable self-driving car for sale within four years. And unlike its automotive rivals, the US car company is saying that its self-driving car will be priced close to today’s vehicles as opposed to premium models from the likes of Tesla.
There are still lots of questions, especially on issues around the car making decisions. For example, if a dog runs out in front of the car, but swerving means hitting an electricity pylon, what does the car choose to do? Regardless of such ethical dilemmas, it looks like the era of self-driving cars is now very close.