The hits of CES: From Sony's Xperia Z1 Compact to the Parrot Jumping Sumo, the show didn't disappoint

Our technology expert reflects on this year’s Consumer Electronics Show

At the opening keynote, Gary Shapiro – basically the guy who is behind CES – said the show had passed an important milestone. This was that it now covered 2 million square feet of exhibitor space. You’ll be unsurprised to hear that I didn’t get round the whole of it, then, though sometimes the acres of over-cushioned carpet made me feel I had.

But I saw some great stuff.

Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset for gaming, took a step closer to being available and in a behind-closed-doors preview I was able to try the Crystal Cove edition. With this on, I could fry elves in an underground lair and shoot at enemy spacecraft as I hurtled through space. The effects were vertiginous, exciting overwhelmingly immersive. Recent improvements have made the video quality smoother and more satisfying, even when viewing text in front of you which had been unreadable in earlier development of virtual reality gizmos.

There was the usual range of ridiculous items, from a headset that beams lasers at your scalp to help hair regrowth to light switches which are powered by kinetic energy so you don’t use electricity to turn on a light. There were GPS transmitters to tell you where Fido, Tibbles or Granny are right now and a small-wheeled remote-controlled toy called the Parrot Jumping Sumo that spins, turns and leaps 3ft off the ground.

Among the more conventional manufacturers, Sony had a good CES, again, thanks to a wide variety of stuff that included its sexiest phone yet, the Xperia Z1 Compact which took the strong design, great features and waterproof shell of the Z1 and made it, that’s right, smaller. It also added pink and a frankly stunning lime green to its range of available colours. The phone is on sale soon and may prove to be one of the best phones of 2014, or the first half at least.

There were more 4K TVs (ones with four times the screen resolution of High Defnition) announced by Sony than other companies, it seemed. Sony had nine new models (three ranges with three screen sizes in each). The new wedge shape of some models will divide opinion but is there to provide heftier speakers and thus address the Achilles’ heel of most flatscreens: weedy sound reproduction. Picture quality was stunning and the announcement that Netflix is shortly to start streaming some content in 4K resolution, at a lower-than-expected bit rate of 15Mbps means that this year there will be native 4K content available in much greater quantity.

Sony's 4K TVs come with heftier speakers Sony's 4K TVs come with heftier speakers
Sony also had an awe-inspiring room – the Life Space UX. This featured a short throw projector that is hidden in a cabinet which sits right up against a blank wall in the living room, say. Turned off, it looks like an attractive piece of furniture. Turn it on and it casts a 147-inch video image on the wall. Cheer up grey days by filling the walls with images of sunny days, distract yourself from boredom by projecting a massive aquarium on the wall in astonishingly high details – the possibilities with this moving wallpaper are considerable. There were other projectors that added more effects on walls and kitchen tables, some of which were interactive.

Much of this was only at prototype stage though the main projection cabinet will go on sale this summer, for a price just south of £25,000.

Apple, as always, was absent from CES, but makers of iPad cases, iPhone batteries, touchscreen styluses and other iDevice-compatible gadgets took up acres of space.

The small-wheeled remote-controlled toy called the Parrot Jumping Sumo that spins, turns and leaps 3ft off the ground The small-wheeled remote-controlled toy called the Parrot Jumping Sumo that spins, turns and leaps 3ft off the ground
Panasonic had a stunning LED TV which looked every bit as good as its flagship plasma telly from last year. Since that has been called the best plasma ever, to match this is an amazing achievement. The company also had a “wave” of curved TVs, convex and concave, to prove they can do such a thing. And both Samsung and LG had TVs which were flexible, so they could move from flat to curved configurations without the picture distorting as it moved. This looked remarkable, though whether they’ll go on sale, or be bought if they do, is another matter.

It’s sometimes difficult to get decent perspective on CES for some time after it’s finished. This year there was a decent dollop of innovation and a staggering amount of products that were merely gentle upgrades on last year’s models. Still, there was much to admire and, in due course, lots that will tempt consumers. 

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    1st Line Service Desk Analyst

    £27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Computer Futures

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

    Recruitment Consultant - Bristol - Computer Futures - £18-25k

    £18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures are currently...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?