We’ll use one word to sum up the Consumer Electronics Show 2016: Massive. This year’s Las Vegas event was the biggest ever, with 170,000 delegates, nearly 3,600 exhibitors and 2.5 million net square feet of floor space. And the noise. Don’t get us started on the noise.
But self-driving cars, US Marshal-led raids on hoverboard vendor booths and guest virtual appearances from Edward Snowdon aside, what did the show have in store for the UK tech channel?
If we had to pick out an overall theme it would be one of virtual reality and 3D. These technologies are coming to the High Street this year in a big way – they are no longer things to ‘keep an eye on’.
And it seems that collaborations and partnerships are how the big vendors are looking to take the risk out of making the early headway.
For example, HTC and HP have teamed up to deliver a virtual reality-ready desktop PC – the HP ENVY Phoenix. The PC powers Vive, the new VR system from HTC, to deliver a VR experience that has room scale tracking capabilities, combined with photosensors on the headset and controllers, to track a user’s movement within a 3D space. This is unique in the market, with the HP ENVY Phoenix expected to be available in the UK in February.
NVIDIA, meanwhile, detailed its new VR-ready programme, partnering with PC manufacturers and add-in card providers to deliver GeForce GTX ‘VR-ready’ systems and graphics cards. This is important for the channel because – as several stakeholders including NVIDIA have warned – the VR headsets coming to market this year simply won’t work on most existing consumer PC hardware.
The initiative will see a badge clearly displayed on all GeForce GTX VR-ready systems, with the likes of HP, Alienware, Asus and Acer already confirming support.
There were literally dozens of VR products revealed at the show (though Sony’s PlayStation VR didn’t make it) – the trick as we move through 2016 will be to identify the winning bets at retail. Oculus has told PCR it’s not working with channel partners (yet) though we understand HTC will.
Trendforce expects the PlayStation VR to lead the way this year in terms of sales, followed by the Vive and Rift respectively.
Elsewhere, OLED has come to laptops in a big way, particularly in the 12 to 13- inch screen sizes in the form of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga and wider OLED debuts in the form of Alienware 13 and the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S.
HP had a number of OLED laptops at CES 2016, including the Spectre x360 models. The 15.6-inch version comes with a 4K display, OLED and Bang & Olufsen audio. The 13.3- inch model has an OLED Quad HD display. The 15.6-inch Spectre x360 will start at £1,000 and is available now, while the 13.3-inch will be available in the spring.
For the gaming market, a big reveal was the Razer Blade Stealth laptop. The base model will start at $999, while the high-end version will sell for $1,599. It’s an interesting product because it allows the user to hook it up to the Razer Core (available in 2Q16), an ‘external graphics docking station’ for extra pixel crushing grunt.
Oh, and keep an eye on Intel’s second generation Compute Stick USB dongle – it can turn ‘dumb’ displays into functioning, albeit limited, PCs for the princely sum of $159 (£110).
In terms of software, Microsoft used CES to announce that Windows 10 has amassed 200 million users since its summer launch, well on the road to its target of one billion users by 2017.
The firm also confirmed it would only be providing support and security updates for Internet Explorer 11 from January 12th. All other versions are now officially obsolete. You’ve been warned.
SAVE THE DATE! The next CES will take place in Las Vegas on January 5-8th 2017. http://cesweb.org/