Big, fat and power-hungry TV screens, entire show floors without power: The 2018 Consumer Electronics Show had it all.
But while there was plenty to see at CES, there were a few products that stuck out from the crowd. Not only did they impress on their own merits, they also could pave the way for entirely new ways of consuming media, be it in your living room, in your kitchen, or on the go. We selected five such notable innovations for Variety’s first “Best of CES” list.
LG Display’s Rollable 65-Inch Ultra HD TV
Big-screen TVs deliver a big picture, but their massive sizes make them hard to handle—and to some, a fat chunk of black glass hanging on the wall is an aesthetic blight. Now you may soon be able to take your 4K TV to go: LG Display has created the world’s first 65-inch Ultra HD rollable OLED display. It curls up like a poster into a storage case (about the size of a sound bar), making it far more portable than traditional HDTVs and allowing for better space utilization. For now, it’s a prototype, coming two years after the company demo’d a much smaller rollable 18-inch OLED video screen at CES. LG Display, one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of display panels, also showed off a dazzlingly vibrant 88-inch 8K OLED display with a pixel count 16 times that of 1080p HD.
Samsung “The Wall” modular TV screen
Ever moved and found that your big screen TV suddenly didn’t look so big anymore in your new digs? Soon, Samsung wants to make it possible to simply grow your TV to the right size: The company has invented a modular TV that is comprised of numerous book-cover-sized screen tiles. Ultimately, the company envisions that consumers will use this technology to turn their TV into a giant video wall. The company showed off a 146-inch version of this modular TV at its CES booth and boasted that its micro LEDs could deliver a stunning picture quality while saving energy at the same time. There’s no word yet on how much the modular TV is going to cost, but Samsung wants to start selling it in 2018.
Lenovo Smart Display
The next generation of smart speakers… looks a bit like a small kitchen TV. Amazon once again led the pack with the release of its Echo Show last year. Now, Lenovo is getting ready to sell its own smart display, powered by Google’s Assistant. It offers you quick voice access to the weather, news, recipes, YouTube videos, video chat and more. The full HD display also doubles as your personal photo album, and it can even be used to watch video streams from numerous apps via the integrated Chromecast functionality. Lenovo also helpfully integrated a mute button and a physical camera shutter for privacy reasons. But what really sets the device apart from the competition is its design, especially for the $250 version that comes with a 10-inch screen: A light and modern white front is complemented by a curved bamboo backing. An 8-inch version with a matte grey back will cost $200 when the device becomes available in Q2.
Nura’s Headphones for Personalized Sound
Do you hear what I hear? Probably not—and Aussie startup Nura claims it’s cracked the code on this problem. The company says its Nuraphone headphones can automatically determine within 30 seconds the unique characteristics of how an individual perceives sound, and then adjusts audio playback accordingly. The Nura system works by playing a sequence of tones and detecting the inner ear’s otoacoustic emissions in response to the sounds. Founded in 2015, the company crowdfunded the product on Kickstarter and began shipping the $399 (U.S.) headphones late last year. Nuraphones use a combo in-ear/over-ear design to let listeners experience bass “in a tactile way” while preserving clarity in higher ranges, according to the startup.
HTC Vive Pro VR headset
HTC didn’t reinvent the wheel for its latest virtual reality (VR) headset. Instead, the company took its existing HTC Vive headset, and gave it a better-looking display with 2880 by 1600 pixels, resulting in a 78% increase of the resolution over the previous version. The Vive Pro also comes with integrated headphones, and is a bit more comfortable to wear than its predecessor. Later this year, Vive Pro owners will also be able to buy a wireless module to explore VR without being tied to their PC with cables, as well as new racking hardware that will allow them to play in a tracked space of up to 11 by 11 yards. All of it should help to make VR much more immersive.