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CES 2021 round-up: major tech fair feels smaller than ever

This article presents a CES 2021 round-up. It will present overview what new things presented in the field of TVs, audio, smart home and smartphones
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CES 2021 round-up : Just like all the other fairs of the past months, CES 2021 took place mainly digitally and on the internet. That affects several places, including the amount of announcements and the type of products we’ve seen.

CES 2021 round-up

Every January, the CES fair in Las Vegas kicks off the new tech year with many products and visions – CES 2021 is no different there. Often these are products that remain in the United States, in a few cases the product only continues to exist as an idea or concept and in all other cases the announced devices also come to the Netherlands. It is a spectacular fair where new technologies and devices can also generate attention in the corridor of any hotel. In short: a fun activity that we look forward to every year.

You can probably already see the storm. Because, as we also concluded in our report of the IFA fair in Berlin , the range of products and press releases was very meager this year. We have again spent days behind our laptops and computers, have been scrolling through the RSS feeds and followed a lot of Twitter messages, but we did not get really square eyes. This year there was simply less to do. The number of really great products was also disappointing this year; and that’s what makes CES the CES.

Is it all doom and gloom then? Certainly not. And let’s not forget that these are first world problems . Today it is important that you are in good health. But as tech enthusiasts, we prefer to be overwhelmed by cool ideas and devices that can make our lives – even after a pandemic – easier or more fun. This year, attention was paid to artificial intelligence and many audio and video products. Fortunately, that part of the Consumer Electronics Show has been preserved.

In this report, we take you along the highlights of CES 2021. We do this on the basis of our different verticals, namely Image, Smarthome, Audio and Mobile. Traditionally, a lot of news is often released within the first category, but audio and smart home can also count on many press releases. For the mobile category, we have to wait a few more months for the next fair, but this also does not mean that exciting things have not happened. Hopefully we will write a completely different introduction in 2022 …

TVs

When we look at the category of televisions, CES is always the place where the latest technologies and newest models for the coming year are announced. Nevertheless, in recent years we have seen the trend that specific televisions are only shown at a later time and that the focus is now mainly on the top models that use the latest technologies.

The magic word of CES 2021 in the field of images is Mini-LED, or QNED or NEO QLED. Each manufacturer gives it its own marketing turn, but it is clear that Mini-LED is now present at almost all TV manufacturers. This technique uses tiny LEDs in the backlight of an LCD television. Combined with a large number of dimmable zones, a high contrast can be achieved and the brightness is increased. We therefore see Mini-LED in the top models of LCD televisions.

Samsung focuses with NEO QLED completely on miniled, although it is of course combined with the well-known QLED technology in which quantum dots provide dynamic color reproduction. Samsung has not yet released all the details about the 2021 TV line-up and has focused during the presentation especially on the most important innovations. In addition to miniled, these include a solar-powered remote control, HDMI 2.1 with everything gamers need and a new and even slimmer The Frame.

TCL is another manufacturer that is fully committed to miniled, but the company has actually been doing that for two years. TCL is now ready for the third generation of the technology, called ‘OD Zero’. This technology makes even more dimmable zones possible and ensures very slim televisions. TCL now has a large part of the 2021 TV line-up including the X925 Pro series with OD Zero.

LG is and remains the largest player in the field of OLED, and that means that we are again a complete one this year OLED TVline-up from the South Korean manufacturer. One of the most important innovations is OLED Evo. This stands for a panel with a higher brightness and can be found in the G1 series. LG also comes with two cheaper OLED televisions. In addition, LG is bringing a new one LCD TV line-up on the market, of which the top models use the Mini-LED technology and go through life as QNED.

Sony has not yet integrated the Mini-LED technology into its televisions. The Japanese manufacturer has now completed its full TV line-up for 2021 presented, including an 8K LCD television, two new OLED models and various lower LCD LED TV series. In our background piece that we wrote in response to the presentation, you can read all about the innovations at Sony. Incidentally, Sony also introduced a new service called Bravia Core. This service is (for the time being) only available to buyers of a Sony XR Bravia television and offers access to high-quality films and series.

Panasonic took it easy at CES 2021. The Japanese manufacturer only announced its top model for 2021: the JZ2000 series. This OLED television uses the same high-brightness panel as last year’s HZ2000 series, but there are also several innovations. For example, the television now has speakers on the sides in addition to speakers at the top. Panasonic is also focusing on the intensive gamer with the new TV. The JZ2000 comes with Game Mode Extreme, which should ensure a lower input lag (14 ms) and support ALLM, VRR, and HFR.

A number of general news that are worth mentioning: LG Display has the arrival of OLED televisions of 42-inch and smaller announced, but it is not yet clear when we can expect these in the store. Chances are that this will not be until 2022. In addition, the company has one transparent OLED TV shown in the bedroom. Samsung and Sony both showed the Micro-LED technology as technology of the future, although it is possible at Sony for the time being only about commercial applications and the Micro-LED TVs from Samsung as yet unaffordable.

CES 2021 round-up of Smarthome

During CES 2021, there was also a lot of room for smart home. Not only by manufacturers who only focus on smart home items such as security cameras, but also manufacturers such as Google and Samsung who are also big in other sports. Philips has been making homes smarter in terms of lighting for years with its Hue range and four new products have been presented . One of the most striking products is a new wall switch module with which you can make existing light switches smart. In any case, we will see many switches at CES 2021: Fibaro launched Walli switches and sockets in anthracite.

There is also a lot of focus on hubs and smart assistants. Google added a guest mode to its smart speakers and displays, so that your personal calendar stays safe and yet another person can enjoy the abilities of Google’s smart assistant. In addition, Arlo’s Video Doorbell can now also support Apple HomeKit , allowing Apple fans to make their home smarter with the smart doorbell.

Smart doorbells are equipped with a camera, but we see those cameras in more products. Samsung comes with a robot vacuum cleaner with which you can immediately keep an eye on your room thanks to a camera. In addition, the Korean company has introduced a kind of robotic arm that can tidy up your house for you and load your dishwasher. However, more robots have been announced: Roomba i3 + can be more careful with intelligent navigation and empty its trash can itself. Same as the just announced Roborock S7 .

Other notable announcements for a smart home include Coldsnap , which allows you to make froyo, soft serve ice cream and iced coffee at home. The Belgian smart home supplier Nobi has developed a smart lamp for the elderly , with which the elderly should be able to live independently for longer. The lamp can detect whether someone has fallen via artificial intelligence. An important invention, because one in three people over 65 falls at least once a year. Fortunately, the lamp can also immediately call for help.

Also a nice improvement comes from Ikea. That has not announced any new products, but was able to say that the timers within his app can now be set to sunset and sunrise . The new Mi Smart Clock from Xiaomi cannot do that, but this smart alarm clock is equipped with Google Assistant so that you can easily set it. TP-Link stole the show with the new Kasa line , consisting of six smart home products: from a dimmer to a smart doorbell.

Your pets will soon be able to come in and out when you allow it, without you being home: MyQ Pet Portal is a cat flap that you can also use for your dog, where you can see with a camera which animal is entering or leaving. Finally, there is another notable announcement: Kohler has announced a Stillness bath . This is a smart bathtub that you control with your voice via Amazon Alexa. This way you determine how deep and how warm the water is based on your voice, so that you do not overflow on your own or with the two of you. There is even an upgrade with built-in lights and a fog machine for an even more romantic atmosphere.

Audio

Audio is important at CES every year. And we will see that at CES 2021, as a number of companies have presented complete line-ups for the coming months. For example, Onkyo and Pioneer have presented a complete list of new receivers, which are prepared for the future with support for 8k. The various have HDMI 2.1 and support for important things such as Dolby Atmos and DTS: X.

Are you more into sound bars? That is of course possible – not everyone has the space and money for receivers and multiple speakers at home. So we see a lot of sound bars include Samsung revealed do . In terms of prices you can make it as crazy as you want; the HW-Q950A is in any case the top model. Panasonic also has something to say and presents a special gaming speaker . It is basically a fairly simple soundbar, with 2.1-channel sound, a built-in subwoofer and three sound modes, intended for gamers . LG is coming this year with a very compact soundbar , as well as a number of top models, while Denon keeps it simple with the Denon Home Soundbar 550 . We close the soundbar list with the new Multibeam from JBL .

In the field of audio also fall the speakers that you operate via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. JBL has announced the JBL Charge 5 : the fifth iteration of the compact Bluetooth speaker that also serves as an external battery for your smartphone. Sony is coming up with the SRS-RA5000 and SRS-RA3000 this year . These are wireless speakers that have to produce a three-dimensional sound. For example, there is support for Sony’s own 360 Reality Audio technology. In addition, Sony has announced something important about that sound technology: the platform will be further expanded .

If you say audio, you also say earplugs and headphones. This year, several manufacturers have announced different earplugs and headphones, including Sennheiser, for example. The IE 300 earplugs have a special transducer that should lift the sound – how could it be otherwise – to a higher level. JBL is also active in this market, announcing headphones for professionals , but fans of JBL Live are not skipped. Namely, three new models are coming. Samsung is at the bottom of the list here, with the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro . These are earphones that fit perfectly within the ecosystem of the South Korean company, which have active noise cancellation.

CES 2021 round-up of Mobile

It was also a very quiet IPO in the field of mobile devices. A number of new smartphones, tablets and convertibles have been presented, but we had to wait until January 14 for the real topper. And then you can actually still discuss whether the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S21 series is part of (the digital) CES 2021. In any case, Samsung comes with three new smartphones , with the Ultra model in particular going to do some unique things with the double telephoto lens and the 108-megapixel camera. However, you will have to pay a lot of money for it.

Slightly more affordable are the new smartphones from TCL under the banner of Alcatel. The Alcatel 3L and Alcatel 1S are very affordable devices that are nevertheless launched with a very complete camera module. The new Alcatel 1T 7 Wifi tablet was also presented. Speaking of tablets, Lenovo also comes with a new tablet. The Lenovo Tab P11 has an 11-inch LCD screen in a 2k resolution. It seems to be a real family tablet with a special kids mode and the ability to stream Netflix in HD. TCL will release a special tablet in April, which can best be compared as a mix between a traditional tablet and an e-reader. The TCL NXTPAPER is therefore a product to keep an eye on.

We have also seen some new concepts, although they are not definitive products yet. For example, the roll-up smartphone from LG is interesting to keep an eye on, just like the roll-up tablet from TCL . Qualcomm comes with a new generation of in-display fingerprint scanners that should work faster and better. We will hopefully see these in new smartphones soon.

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