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The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Popular Mechanics logo Popular Mechanics 1/9/2020 Popular Mechanics Editors
a sign above a store: From TVs with crisp new levels of resolution to electric Jeeps, here are the most exciting tech and gadgets at CES this week. © Courtesy of CES From TVs with crisp new levels of resolution to electric Jeeps, here are the most exciting tech and gadgets at CES this week.

Every January, tech companies large and small converge on Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show. And with that comes a slew of announcements about new computers, TVs, smartwatches, home security devices, and on. Take a look below for the most intriguing products and concepts at CES this year.

A Smarter Business PC

a laptop computer sitting on top of a table: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Dell The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Dell promises premium, feature-rich devices for professionals in its new Latitude 9000 series. And that starts with the Latitude 9510. Available March 26 for $1,799 as either a laptop or a 2-in-1, the device is Dell’s first PC built with 5G capability. While the next generation wireless technology is still mostly in development, when it’s available to the masses, that tech will give the 9510 the ability to stream content at lightning speeds. The more immediately useful features include software that will automatically launch frequently used programs faster, and improve battery performance according to use. Dell is targeting a 30-hour run-time so you don’t always have to travel with the cord in tow, but express charging means quick power-ups. The 3.2-pound device has a 15-inch display, and can be ordered with the 10th-generation Intel Core i7 processor.

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A High-End Chromebook

a close up of a laptop computer: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Samsung The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Chromebooks are usually budget purchases—not this one. Available as either a laptop or a 2-in-1, these devices run an operating system somewhere between a browser window and a smartphone. So long as you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can browse, email, and spreadsheet—meaning, the essential functions for a majority of users—for hundreds less than the cost of a MacBook. Samsung started with that template and added premium-ness to create the Galaxy Chromebook. The 10th Gen Intel Core i5 processor and 120GB of storage are pleasant overkill, as are its 13.4-inch AMOLED touchscreen display and MacBook-grade aluminum case. It will go on sale sometime in early 2020 and sell for $1,000, which is about twice the price of other Chromebooks.

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An Adventurous Smartwatch

a close up of a device: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Suunto The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Finnish smartwatch company Suunto has been entrenched in the fitness market. And it still is. But when the brand announced its 7 watch this week, it signaled a foray into everyday wearables. The 7 is the first Suunto to run on Google’s Wear OS, delivering an elusive combination of robust features for fitness tracking, and conveniences for daily use. It can log activity in more than 70 sport modes, store up to 8GB of full-color topographical maps, store music for offline use, monitor heart rate, and show altimeter and compass readings while you’re in the backcountry. (The durable construction holds up, too: Water-resistant down to 50 meters, it has a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass crystal over the large 50mm touchscreen display held by a silicone strap, which you can swap out for fabric or leather.) In the city, you can use it to check notifications, get calendar updates, and use Google Pay. As for the battery, Suunto says the 7 will last 12 hours in GPS tracking mode, or up to two days in regular mode—decent in the overall smartwatch landscape but especially good among models that use Wear OS. It will go on sale at the end of January for $499, but you can pre-order it now.

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A Wireless Camera-Floodlight Hybrid

a close up of a mouse: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Arlo The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Arlo’s Pro 3 is the first wire-free floodlight camera on the market. The upside: You can mount it pretty much anywhere, and move it as needed. The downside: It’s entirely battery powered, and thus will need periodic recharging (though The Verge reports that it could last as long as six months on one charge). Arlo says it will illuminate a large area with powerful LED lights, activated either by motion or via manual switch. And since it’s not just a floodlight—the camera nested in the middle logs 2K HDR video with color night vision and the ability to zoom in on live and recorded footage—the Pro 3 fills two roles for Arlo, already one of the better home Wi-Fi security ecosystems. Like the brand’s other cameras, the floodlight will have a built-in siren and two-way audio that allows you to hear and speak with visitors. You’ll be able to add the Pro 3 Floodlight to your wireless smart home arsenal later this spring for $250.

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A Blisteringly Fast Gaming Monitor

The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Asus The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

On a monitor, hertz (Hz) refers to how many times per second the display refreshes itself. In gaming, more hertz means more frames per second (FPS). According to manufacturers of high-FPS hardware, that means more visual information, the advantage you need to out-shoot your opponent and win more matches. The ROG Swift 360HZ (24.5-inch, 1080p) is the first monitor to hit its namesake spec. It’s been argued that even pro gamers can’t perceive or really benefit from numbers above 240 Hz. But even if that’s the case, we’re happy to see any instance of engineers pushing performance into the realm of unnecessary. Pricing and an on-sale date still to come.

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A Sound Bar With Up-Firing Speakers

a close up of a black device: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Vizio The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

When you’re listening to stereo and 5.1 audio, all the Vizio's speakers face forward, directing the sound at you. But when you’re playing a movie or film with Dolby Atmos or DTS:X, two speakers rotate upward, for more of a surround-sound experience. And they do so automatically, with no futzing or poking at a remote required. As the flagship sound bar in Vizio’s 2020 line, the Elevate is predictably built out. It has 18 total drivers, two satellite surround speakers, and an (included) wireless subwoofer with bass down to 30 Hz. Plus it has voice assistant and Chromecast standard. No word yet on pricing or an on-sale date.

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An Electric Kickscooter

The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Segway The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Whatever your thoughts on electric scooters (and their somewhat contentious entry into the ridesharing space), their utility is undeniable. They’re easier to ride and store than bikes, making for better accessibility. For those of us that fondly remember kicking around and doing bunny hops during the Razor scooter heyday, Segway-Ninebot’s debut of its Air T15 piqued our interest. There’s no throttle: Simply kick like you would to get up to speed on a non-motorized scooter, and the T15’s 300-watt-hub motor will hold that mph (up to 12.4) in a sort of cruise control, even on inclines as steep as 15 percent. Tap on the brake over the rear wheel, and the scooter will slow down, regeneratively charging the battery, which provides a range of up to 9.3 miles. When folded up, the sleek 22-pound package is a little more than three feet long. Segway-Ninebot plans to sell the Air T15 for $700; details on exactly when are forthcoming.

A Nearly Bezel-less TV

a close up of a tree: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Samsung The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

CES means new TVs. Near the top of the performance charts for 2020 is Samsung’s newest flagship model. The Q950 QLED is really thin, just 15mm thick all the way around, even with six speakers lodged inside and rear subwoofers. The bezel (the border you see from the front that’s not screen) is so thin it’s almost imperceptible. Samsung says it will also have software for voice commands and the ability to automatically adjust the sound to noise from things like a blender or vacuum. As for the image quality, LG’s OLED TVs excepted, this is about as good as TV resolution gets (for more on OLED versus QLED, check out this explainer). Problem is, for now, there isn’t much content available at that resolution, though Samsung says the TV will artificially make 4K content look 8K-grade. When it comes out at a to-be-announced date for a to-be-announced price, the Q950 will be available in 65-, 75-, and 85-inch models.

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An In-Depth Heart-Tracking Timepiece

a close up of a watch: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Withings The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Withings already makes one of our favorite affordable watches, and now it’s announced the ScanWatch, which brings new capability to its hybrid design (that is, a smartwatch featuring an analog display). In this case, the combination also includes powerful medical-grade sensors capable of taking an electrocardiogram. Withings clinically tested it to continuously monitor the wearer’s heart rate through a PPG sensor, and sends alerts of any irregularities through a small OLED display on the watch face. Another sensor measures your oxygen saturation levels as you sleep, identifying breathing disturbances that could indicate sleep apnea. Through Withings’s app, you can share all of that data with your doctor, plus set alarms, program step goals, and track your fitness. The watch automatically detects more than 30 activities and measures V02 Max. Available with a 38mm or 42mm case and silicone or leather bands, the ScanWatch boasts a 30-day battery life. Keep in mind: This Withings still needs FDA approval. But expect it to be available sometime after April 1, with the price starting at $249.

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A Temperature-Regulating Bed

The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Sleep Number The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

The more studies reveal how sleep-deprived we all are, the more sleep tech seems to advance—from sleep-monitoring fitness trackers to wake-up light alarm clocks—to help us better understand and improve the quality of our Zs. The latest step along that path came this week when Sleep Number unveiled its Climate360. It’s a smart bed with ducts designed to release trapped air, and warm or cool the bed depending on if you sleep too hot or too cold. It has two separate zones, so each sleeper can get their own desired temperature. (Partners of chronic snorers, take note: There’s even a feature that allows you to incline your significant other’s head to reduce snoring without waking them up.) Like the company’s other 360 mattresses, the Climate has SleepIQ technology that measures your heart rate, breathing, movement, and circadian rhythms to provide recommendations for how to improve your rest. That’s a lot to promise, and time and testing will reveal if Sleep Number can deliver. Pricing is still TBD, but look for the Climate360 in 2021.

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A Retro, Yet Potentially More Secure, Smart Lock

The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Netatmo The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Door locks have been the vanguard of our brave new smart home future, but Netatmo’s new Smart Lock and Keys takes a smart step back to the analog side of security. Unlike many models that use a passcode or app, Netatmo’s lock reintroduces keys that use NFC to lock and unlock. Four AAA batteries will power the door unit for up to two years. If you leave your keys inside, your smartphone still unlocks the door via Bluetooth, and you can activate or deactivate keys using Netatmo’s app. The lock isn’t available in the U.S., and Netatmo hasn’t yet announced plans to bring it to our shores.

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A Sleek, Voice-Assistant-Enabled Socket

a close up of a white wall: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Hide The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

There’s no shortage of smart home products that allow you to turn everyday technology like lightbulbs, locks, thermostats, and more into wireless remote- and voice-controlled devices. But Hide’s Smart Socket is one of the most seamless, least obtrusive ways to do so. It’s not only a wall outlet cover that hides ugly plugs inside the wall, but it’s now become smart-enabled to connect with your Wi-Fi and voice control through your preferred smart assistant like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. The smart cover is also easily removable, so you can exchange it with other Hide outlets to move the speaker from room to room. It’s available for preorder now, shipping later in Q1, and will run you $99 per socket (though Hide is listing that as a “target price”).

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A Trio of Hybrid Jeeps

a car parked on the side of a mountain: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Jeep The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

Jeep is making hybrid vehicles. The automaker hasn’t announced pricing or availability, but it showed off its first three plug-ins this week in Vegas. The new versions of the Renegade and Compass (which Jeep will slap a 4xe badge on to signify the dual electric-gas power) will have 240 horsepower and an electric-only range of 31 miles, according to Engadget. And, per Car and Driver, the electric motors in the European models will come paired with 1.3-liter, inline-four cylinder gas engines, though specs for the U.S. versions remain to be seen. The Wrangler rounds out the initial 4xe line, and details on it are even scarcer, but more should come out at the auto shows later this year. Regardless, it’s noteworthy that Jeep is moving in this direction, one of the steps in its plan to have available hybrid powertrains in all of its models by 2022.

A Foldable Laptop/Tablet (Finally?)

a close up of a computer: The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020 © Courtesy of Lenovo The Most Exciting Tech at CES 2020

The tech trend of 2019—foldable gadgets—is ready to bleed in the 2020s. What the Galaxy Fold and Motorola’s new Razr did for flexible smartphones, Lenovo hopes to do for laptops with the Thinkpad X1 Fold. This device has been around for a few months as a prototype, but Lenovo is finally ready to release its shape-shifting laptop into the wild. The X1 Fold is the definition of experimental, with a foldable screen, digital and Bluetooth keyboards, and a modified Windows 10 UX (though Lenovo plans to release a Windows 10 X version). The potential is exciting, but given the mixed history of foldable gadgets, approach it with some skepticism. Still, this bendy laptop will make you a certified early adopter. It will cost a cool $2,500 when it goes on sale in mid-2020. Maybe that’s worth it to gain early access to the possibly mind- and screen-bending laptops of the future.

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