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  1. CES 2019 was absolutely buried in laptops and PCs – why? Microsoft certainly has an idea At CES 2019, we've experienced an absolute deluge of laptops and other computers that made this year’s show feel more like Computex than the Consumer Electronics Show. That’s not even on account of Nvidia’s big push into RTX graphics on laptops. Not counting the 40-some new gaming laptops on display at the show, we easily saw another 40 general use laptops this year – and almost all of them would have been worth deeper coverage had we not forgotten to clone ourselves before landing in Las Vegas. Just three years ago, the popular opinion was that laptops and PCs were dead in the water, that you should sell your stock or just pick up a tablet. So, what’s up with this explosion in laptop production for 2019? Mark Linton, GM of OEM Portfolio and Product Management for Microsoft, gave us a few of his ideas at the company’s media showcase in Las Vegas. Who better to ask than someone who’s working with all of these laptop makers every day? Huawei's MateBook 13: an example of PCs' steady uptick in power and design quality. Upgrade time is up for a lot of users “There are a few factors here,” Linton tells us, “innovation in silicon, innovation in graphics [and] Windows 10 momentum in terms of the install base. Windows 7 is going end of support in a year, and so customers are looking to move to make sure they get updated and so on.” Ding, ding, ding – we have a winner. Yes, the advancements in processing and a steady rise in Windows 10 adoption are contributors. However, Microsoft stopped pushing feature updates to its almost 10-year-old operating system (OS) back in 2015, and support for Windows 7 security updates will end on January 14, 2020. This is a much more plausible explanation for the explosion in new laptops for 2019. “Each silicon generation, things get thinner and better battery life,” Linton adds. “Again, I often compare it to that Windows 7 machine [that] is six or seven years old, compared to what you’re getting now, it blows your mind. Windows 7 support is a big one that we see customers thinking about, you know, ‘I want to upgrade to Windows 10, so I can get updates.’ And, just overall, excitement is back in the PC.” You might be thinking, “Wait, why didn’t all these people just upgrade to Windows 10 when it was free?” Well, then you’re not the average computer user. The vast majority of computer users don’t pay much attention to such things as OS updates. (The only reason Apple’s iOS updates have such wide adoption is because of their insistence and simplicity – notice how Apple doesn’t publicly share macOS install base figures much?) Samsung certainly seems ready for this with the gorgeous, budget-friendly Notebook Flash. It appears that hardware manufacturers the world over are preparing to be there for the time when users finally notice that their aged Windows 7 device isn’t receiving updates at all. How Microsoft will ultimately communicate this to users is unknown, but surely the company will do everything in its power to ensure its warnings are heeded. Microsoft clearly has been preparing for this moment, working more closely than ever with laptop makers to produce more attractive options at all ends of the budget spectrum. “There’s a PC for everyone. They start at sub $200 and go all the way up to the very high end,” Linton says in conclusion. “We’ve done a lot of work with our partners on the engineering side to get things like 32GB storage, to get updates working great, to get the driver model really smooth. So, no matter what you spend, you’re going to have a great, reliable Windows 10 experience.” If you know someone in your life that’s still rocking a Windows 7 laptop or PC from a few years back, give them a gentle nudge and tell them it’s time to upgrade. Even at the budget level, comparatively, they’re in for a massive boost. Source
  2. At CES, health, wellness and medical tech are big focuses once again. With its abundance of companies promising to help you stay fit, eat healthier or measure your [insert whatever biometric reading here] more accurately, this year's CES evolved to be more like a MedTech conference instead. And while health, wellness and medicine have always been tied to technology, their steady influence on consumer products and portable devices such as phones and wearables is only growing. More and more, consumers are getting access to gear that can handle serious diagnostics of the sort that were previously only available to healthcare professionals. Large play-pause toggl Video: CES 2019: What makes us say WTF Compared to last year, there were 25 percent more health-related exhibitors in Las Vegas, and a 15 percent increase in the amount of floorspace dedicated to health tech, according to the Consumer Technology Association, the organization that presents the show. This shouldn't come as a surprise. There are an estimated 74 million Baby Boomers in the US (people born roughly between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s), and tech companies are eager to help the elderly and those with physical or non-visible disabilitieslive independently and comfortably. All the gadgets for getting healthy at CES 2019 Younger people born between the early 1980s through early 2000s (commonly known as "Millennials") are more anxious and depressed than previous generations, meanwhile, which explains the plethora of lifestyle and self-care gadgets at CES claiming to help them relax, sleep better and have smoother skin. And with the appearance of Impossible Burger 2.0, maybe they'll even eat better too. Below is a roundup of the most interesting, compelling and bizarre health tech and gadgets on display this week. Because many of these products were demoed rather than independently and thoroughly reviewed, it's best to take these companies' claims with a grain of salt. (Even something as simple as measuring a heart rate with a fitness tracker isn't as accurate as, say, an actual EKG machine.) Nevertheless, these products were still compelling and give a glimpse of what's to come in the tech industry -- anxieties and all. Taking health into your own hands While it's always best for healthcare professionals to handle medical checkups, some products are making it possible for patients to carry out non-invasive procedures on their own. Others, like the handful of hearings aids we saw, are getting smarter. The ReSound Linx Quattro, for instance, pairs with Apple's digital assistant Siri. Large play-pause tog The EyeQue VisionCheck is a Bluetooth-powered portable device that conducts vision tests at home with an app. It measures nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism and after testing it spits out "EyeGlass Numbers." These work similar to an eyeglass prescription, but don't require a doctor's sign-off. You can then take that number to specific retailers that will honor EyeGlass numbers and buy prescription glasses on your own. For expecting mothers, the Butterfly iQ is a $2,000 handheld sonogram that can scans your body. An app helps guide the patient to move the sonogram and images can be sent over to a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis. It scans any part of your body so you can use it to check up on your abdominal organs, muscles and heart. Monitoring the data-rich body Though continual and constant health monitoring sounds a bit Big Brother, it's useful for those who are at high risk of a medical emergency. And allowing the supervision to work in the background through AI gives the patient enough room to go about their daily lives without feeling "sick." The Omron HeartGuide has tiny pumps and air bladders similar to traditional medical devices that can measure your blood pressure. The wearable then uploads your data to an app, which is shared with your doctor. With frequent readings, Omron aims to make hypertension diagnosis easier. If you have chronic heart failure, being able to predict the next attack not only can be life-saving but empowering. Chronolifehopes to help those who are diagnosed with congestive heart failure to anticipate potential medical emergencies with its Chronolife vest. By continuously measuring six key physiological stats in real time, its AI-powered platform hopes to predict an oncoming heart attack. Withings' Move fitness watch can take electrocardiograms but looks like a regular analog watch. It's the company's first watch that can reportedly check for irregular heart rates and can alo track your sleep. And while it's following in the footsteps of the Apple Watch Series 4, it's doing it at less than half the price -- it'll be just $130 when it hits Q2 of this year pending FDA and CE clearance. Kepler Vision Engine is a software platform that analyzes live images and recognizes body language and actions, giving us a peek at the future of smart cams. It can tell whether or not someone is angry, relaxed, defensive or showing signs of distress (suddenly taking a tumble down, for example). Automating personal care and companionship with robots If someone needs around-the-clock care or simply wants someone to interact with, robots can be a efficient solution to either issues. At CES, we saw bots complex enough to move around and measure blood pressure, as well as a handful of companion bots that respond when you greet them. But this spectrum of capabilities is only the beginning of a personal healthcare system supported by robotics. Though mostly a concept for now, Samsung introduced its platform of bots that address needs in healthcare, air quality monitoring, retail and fitness. Bot Care can check up on someone's health including measuring a person's blood pressure by having that person placing their finger on the screen. Large play-pause tog The super adorable ElliQ robot is a companion designed for senior citizens living alone. Friendly and interactive, it responds to voice commands while also keeping tabs on its owner in case relatives want to monitor their conditions. In a similar vein, the Bocco Emo robot reads out text messages, controls your smart home devices and notifies you if your doors are locked. But for those seeking companionship, it also appears more "empathetic" and expressive. It responds when it hears its name and emotes when it reads out messages. It can also recognize the emotional state of the speaker depending on their tone of voice and react accordingly. Other robots, like Lovot and Kiki simulate pets. They have facial recognition, can track your movement and react to pets and hugs. Though they can be pretty expensive (Lovot is estimated to cost between $5,000 and $6,000 for two), they provide similar company as a pet without the sky-high vet bills. Sleep and relaxation Sleep was another prominent theme in health-related devices. Considering that lack of sleep is related to memory loss, irritability and impaired cognitive function, many gadgets at CES claim to help you achieve a more restful night sleep ASTI's LectroFan Micro 2 is a portable, cleverly designed sound machine that works for up to 40 hours without a charge. It connects with Bluetooth and can play your favorite music, podcast or white noises. If you're a snorer, the SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band from Phillips is a band that goes around your chest. During the night it keeps track of your position and if you move to life on your back he band will encourage you to move to your side. The Hupnos sleep mask also wants you to stop snoring. Along with an app, the mask listens to you while you sleep. If it detects any snoring it'll vibrate and its built-in accelerometer will determine the best sleeping position to decrease your snoring. Self-care and beauty Beauty and cosmetics are a multi-billion dollar industry, so it's no surprise when it pops up at CES. From identifying skin issues to making everyday products better, the business of beauty is becoming more and more high-tech. Of course, the same problem we noted last year still persists: These "beauty tech" products can't seem to improve your look without first telling you everything that's wrong with your appearance. SK-II, the popular Japanese cosmetics company, brought its Future X Smart Store to CES 2019. Originally announced in Tokyo in May 2018, the smart store fuses tech with your typical retail shopping experience. The process begins with a facial scan that measures your skin condition. (The Comper Smarkin, which we also saw at CES 2019, does a similar facial scan.) It then recommends products for treatment and after after you make your picks you can wave your hand to add them into your shopping cart and checkout. Using infrared radiant heat technology, the Volo Go hairdryer is a wireless hair dryer that promises to dry your hair quickly. Its battery only lasts 14 minutes (!), so if you have a big thick mane, the Volo Go might not do the trick. If you want to cover up your sunspots or freckles (though why would you need to?) the Opte Precision Skincare System scans your face and body with a tiny camera. Its blue LED light enhances the contrast of your skin and then applies the exact amount of makeup or serum with 120 thermal inkjet nozzles to cover each spot. When sex tech becomes 'obscene' Though there weren't many sex-related product launches, there was controversy surrounding the industry this year when Ose, a robotic sex toy geared towards women, won a CES Innovation Award only to have it revoked. The CTA considered it an "immoral, obscene, indecent" and profane device, which caused ire and outcry given CES' male-dominated history, the CTA's past approval of sex tech for men and the legitimate robotic technology behind the toy. Source Large play-pause
  3. Here are some of our top picks from the flurry of announcements coming out of CES 2019. DAN THORP-LANCASTER 10 Jan 2019 10 Look, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is never an easy thing to keep up with. With virtually every big tech brand under the sun arriving in Las Vegas with an onslaught of announcements (heck, even Apple made an appearance this year, albeit by proxy), it can prove to be a mind-melting experience just trying to take it all in. Luckily, we've been keeping track of every big announcement for Windows fans. And all told, CES 2019 has proven to be a blockbuster year for PC brands, particularly if you're into gaming. From VR innovations to huge gaming displays and a virtual torrent of new gaming laptops, here are our top 10 announcements for PC users from CES 2019, in no particular order. NVIDIA brings GeForce RTX graphics to laptops NVIDIA had one of the biggest keynotes to kick off the week, revealing what gamers had been anticipating for some time: GeForce RTX 20-series graphics chips are coming to laptops. Like their desktop counterparts, the RTX chips for laptops are based on NVIDIA's new Turing architecture. They also add support for real-time ray tracing, which heavily improves the realism of lighting in games that support it. That's in addition to cores dedicated to assisting with real-time rendering and image processing, along with an added dose of AI magic. Gamers should be able to pick up laptops sporting RTX graphics starting January 29, when machines packing RTX 2060 (which just made its desktop debut as well), RTX 2070, and RTX 2080 graphics are expected to launch. All three should boast significant performance increases over even their desktop-class GTX predecessors, giving gamers on the go an extra chunk of horsepower. Gaming laptops galore With the reveal of NVIDIA's GeForce RTX 20-series graphics for notebooks, manufacturers came out of the woodwork to announce laptops sporting the new chips. Some of the most impressive laptops on display were the Razer Blade 15 Advanced, MSI's GS75 Stealth, and the new ASUS ROG Zephyrus S GX701. Dell even got in on the game with an overhaul of its relatively affordable G5 and G7 laptops And if you were looking for this year's oddball standout, look no further than the ASUS Mothership, a gaming behemoth that somehow combines a ton of power with a detachable form factor reminiscent of Microsoft's Surface Pro. AMD throws down the gaming gauntlet Not content to sit back while NVIDIA soaked up all of the gaming fun, AMD had a big announcement of its own: the Radeon VII. While it doesn't support the same ray-tracing tech that has been a hot item with NVIDIA's RTX series, the Radeon VII represents the first 7nm gaming GPU to hit the market. Packed with 60 computer units running at up to 1.8GHz and 16GB of high-performance VRAM, the Radeon VII manages to achieve similar framerates as the GeForce RTX 2080 in popular games, while beating it out in some cases. In addition, the 7nm process that the Radeon VII chip is built on allows AMD to achieve up to 25 percent more performance than its predecessors without increasing its power draw, according to the company. Efficiency and power are the key terms here, and you'll be able to check it out for yourself soon. The Radeon VII is expected to go on sale on February 7, 2019, for $700. Laptop stunners While gaming laptops received the lion's share of attention this CES, there were plenty of stunning regular laptops to get excited about, as well. LG unveiled a couple of innovative updates to its gram lineup, including the incredibly light 17-inch gram and the new 2-in-1 gram 14 – a first for the range. Huawei was dressed to impress with the new MateBook 13, which could give the MacBook Air a run for its money in the style department. Meanwhile, Lenovo adopted some sleek styling of its own with the new Yoga S940, a traditional laptop that features tiny bezels around a stunning 4K display and Dolby Atmos support. Equally impressive was the ASUS StudioBook S, which manages to jam a 17-inch display into a 15-inch chassis. Oh, and for fans of Dell's XPS range, you finally won: the latest XPS 13 has moved the webcam above the screen. Intel teases 'Ice Lake' innovation If you were hoping to get a glimpse of what the future will hold for Intel's lineup of chips, the company didn't disappoint at CES 2019. During its keynote this week, Intel offered a peek at its upcoming "Ice Lake" processors, detailing new features coming with the move to the 10nm chips. Perhaps the biggest change is that Ice Lake chips will include native support for Thunderbolt 3 on the system on a chip (SoC) for the first time. Also included is support for Wi-Fi 6, the next-generation 802.11ax Wi-Fi standard that is only now starting to populate the market. Additionally, Ice Lake will include Gen 11 integrated graphics and special tweaks for machine learning tasks. Intel didn't stop there, though. The company revealed its new Project Athena initiative, which is ill-defined at the moment. According to Intel, the project is similar to its push to make "Ultrabook" a household name a few years ago, and it's using Project Athena as a rallying point to push its PC partners to develop the "future of mobile computing." The company also teased a new hybrid CPU it is working on, which combines high-powered cores with several low-powered cores to more efficiently handle computing tasks. The end result is a set of smaller chips living on the smallest motherboard Intel has created, which the company hopes will eventually find its way into innovative dual-screen devices and more. Oh, and if you're looking for more near-term initiatives, Intel is set to bring its 9th Gen Core processors to laptops during the second quarter of 2019. Ice Lake, meanwhile, is expected to arrive toward the end of 2019, as long as delays don't get in the way. Alienware stuffs desktop parts in a monster laptop We've already covered the cavalcade of gaming laptops that marched through CES 2019, but Dell's latest Alienware monster deserves its own spot. The new Alienware Area-51m is what you'd get if you stuffed a desktop PC into a laptop chassis. The goal with the Area-51m was to make absolutely everything user-upgradable, and Dell set out designing the laptop with that in mind. Inside, you'll find desktop-class processors and NVIDIA's latest RTX graphics for laptops, both of which can be upgraded. And that's not all; the RAM and storage drives can be swapped out, and Dell constructed the PC in a way that makes it easy to do just that, with smart labeling and easily accessible parts. Aside from its impressive components, the Area-51m just looks plain cool. Dell says that it was designed using a new "Industrial" design language, and it sports clean lines and neat lighting effects. So long as you're OK with what is bound to be terrible battery life, a chunky exterior, and the Area-51m's decidedly beefy 8.51-pound weight, it's quite intriguing. The Alienware Area-51m is expected to launch on January 29 for $2,550. Massive gaming displays When is a monitor just a TV by another name? That's a question that was sure to pop into many a mind when looking at HP's new Omen X Emperium display, a 65-inch gaming monitor with a matching soundbar. The massive display checks all of the boxes gamers will care about: 144Hz, G-Sync, 4K, and HDR. Whether you're gaming or checking out the latest episodes of your favorite shows on Netflix, the Omen X Emperium X can, at least on paper, fit the bill. Oh, and there's one more thing: HP designed a matching soundbar for the Omen X Emperium. Locking in just below the display, the soundbar packs three stereo amps at 120 watts, along with Low-Frequency Array tech that HP says should eliminate the need for a separate subwoofer. Just don't expect this thing to come cheap. HP is expected to launch the Omen X Emperium in February for a whopping $5,000. Dell brings your phone into VR While it had a lot of hardware to show off at CES, Dell has also been busy tweaking its software. The highlight from the show is Dell Mobile Connect, which will soon let you interact with your phone in VR. And we're not talking just responding to notifications. Dell Mobile Connect in VR will let you interact with your whole phone UI. That means, if you're grinding away with a particularly tough game in VR but need to take a break to check Twitter or send a text, there's no need to pull your headset off. Rather, Dell Mobile Connect will let you bring up your full phone UI on screen and interact with any apps just as you would holding your phone. Dell isn't giving any indication as to when the next version of Dell Mobile Connect with this VR wizardry will be available, but it should be coming "soon." Lenovo makes a cheaper Surface Studio One of the biggest barriers to entry for Microsoft's impressively sleek Surface Studio is its price. But as long as you're not a Microsoft hardware diehard, Lenovo may now have an alternative: the Yoga A940. There are two main things that make the Yoga A940 an incredibly intriguing alternative to the Surface Studio. First, its price: the PC starts at $2,350, which undercuts the Surface Studio by $1,150. Second, the Yoga A940 comes sporting a full desktop-class Intel Core i7-8700 processor, which is a big step up from the laptop-class processor in the Surface Studio. Available with a 27-inch Dolby Vision-capable display in either QHD or 4K options, the Yoga A940 packs a similar rotating arm mechanism as the Surface Studio. That allows artists to lower the display into position for drafting or sketching with an included pen. And while the AMD Radeon RX 560 graphics won't blow the pants off of any games, it is perfectly viable for creative applications. One of the other little tidbits that make the A940 interesting is the Lenovo Precision Dial, a Surface Dial-like device that can be plugged into either the right or left side of the display and can be used to toggle settings in apps, scroll, and much more. As a little bonus, the side of the A940 has a dedicated Qi charging pad for your phone and a holder for the pen. The Lenovo Yoga A940 is expected to hit stores in March. HTC debuts exciting innovations for Vive Lastly, HTC had a couple of new and interesting products to show off that should get VR fans salivating. The first is the HTC Vive Cosmos, a new VR headset that features inside-out tracking. That means, at least with the Vive Cosmos, you'll no longer have to set up base stations around your room. Instead, the Vive Cosmos can track your position and movement using cameras mounted on the headset itself. The goal with the Vive Cosmos, HTC said, was to create a headset that could be used almost anywhere. And while the company didn't explicitly say so, that statement left speculation open that the headset could eventually work with a phone instead of requiring a gaming PC. The other big announcement HTC had ready was the Vive Pro Eye, which takes a Vive Pro headset and adds "foveated rendering." Essentially, this is a revamped Vive Pro that sports a number of sensors inside to track your eyes. Foveated rendering is a graphics trick that allows your PC to draw what you're looking at in high quality, freeing up more resources by ramping down the quality on what you're not looking at. That technique could allow lower-powered graphics cards to run intense experiences, while more capable graphics cards could make what you're seeing look even better. With the eye-tracking sensors, developers can also create experiences that track exactly what you're looking at and respond accordingly. There's no release date set for either the Vive Pro Eye or Vive Cosmos just yet, but the Cosmos is expected to get a price and release date later in 2019. source
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