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For the first time in its long history, MakeUseOf has made the journey to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). We brought three of our finest (and me) along for the trip.
Now, while this might be the company’s first trip to CES, it’s not mine. I was blown away by what I saw when I first came to CES in 2013. It was the year where VR, wearables, and smart homes really started gaining traction. However, my view of 2018 is less positive, mainly because not much has changed. It’s still all smart homes, wearables, and virtual reality.
I’m not saying it’s all bad. The stuff we saw that is coming along in the next few or so is exciting, but the devices you can go out and get soon are too few and far between (or the devices have been available for a while).
My original goal for CES was deliver a useful article about cool devices you’ll be able to go out and buy right now or in the very near future, and after spending days wandering the show floor and night researching the findings of sites around the web, I’ve come to the only reasonable conclusion: CES is underwhelming this year.
Price and Availability? Not Yet Announced
I understand that we want companies to innovate. We want them to show us the future. But it feels like CES is mostly hypothetical devices that are solutions looking for a problem. At MakeUseOf, we focus on things you can use now or in the near future, and finding those devices at CES was incredibly difficult.
I can tell you all about a magical suitcase that’ll follow you around an airport automatically and a drone that actually carries passengers, but I have no idea when either of those devices will be available, nor do I know how much they’ll cost. And it’s not for lack of trying.
Don’t get me wrong. Jackson, Kannon, Tina, and myself saw some incredible things at CES this year. We looked at 8K televisions, a laptop with a phone built in, haptic feedback that might change the way we interact with devices, 5G data, and a TV that rolls up like a poster, but I have no idea how hard any of them will hit your wallet or when they’ll come for the knockout punch (spoiler: they’re all going to be incredibly expensive).
Basically, if you’re scanning CES coverage with Amazon open in another tab ready to place preorders, you will be disappointed. However, if you like devices that have been out for a while…
It’s Been Available for Months
Are you excited about devices that have been available at your local Best Buy for months now? Well, you’re in luck, because there were plenty of those at CES this year. Walking from booth to booth, you must piece together a puzzle in order to figure out what’s new. “Oh, that’s a cool pair of headphones, too bad they came out in Q2 2017.”
I understand that companies are at CES to push their items to buyers and other people who have nothing to do with media. That said, it would be nice for representatives to make it clear what’s new and what isn’t before I waste 10 minutes listening to a presentation about a device that came out last year.
Maybe it’s our own fault for not being current on the release timeline of every random smart home and wearable company, but I don’t think we’re to blame. I guess I was just looking for something different than what a lot of companies are offering.
We Get It! Smart Homes Are a Thing
Let me tell you about this amazing new thing called smart homes. With them, devices like your lights, thermostats, TVs, and appliances will leverage the power of the internet in order to do more. It all sounds great in theory, but with tons of companies out there offering their own proprietary systems that aren’t compatible with other ones, it becomes a mess.
Not only that, but there are so, so many devices that just don’t need an internet connection!
A smart thermostat saves money and energy, and that’s cool. But for every useful smart home device, there’s another one that just leaves you scratching your head. Do you need a smart toilet? Probably not.
The fact is, it’s okay to have devices in your home that aren’t connected to the internet. Your toaster can make your bread hot and crunchy without connecting to your phone. We get it tech industry, you want all of our devices to connect to your network, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense!
Have You Heard of Alexa and Google Assistant?
Piggybacking off the smart home craze is the meteoric rise of Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s ridiculous how many unnecessary devices feature voice control at CES this year.
I own a Google Home. I reviewed the Google Home and was quite happy with it. But does every single device need to come Google Assistant or Alexa? This isn’t the first time we’ve complained about Alexa and how it’s kind of stupid, but it’s worth repeating!
Now, just about every light bulb, speaker, smart glasses, switch, doorbell, car, dog collar, and TV lets you talk to it either through Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. It’s like the entire tech industry came together and decided that touch screens and remotes are unacceptable — we absolutely must speak to them!
Don’t take this the wrong way. There’s plenty of room for voice control in gadgets, I just think they went a little overboard this year. Sometimes it’s okay to control things in the same way we always have.
Sorry to Rain on Your Parade
No, CES wasn’t all bad, but it was most definitely underwhelming. There was some fascinating devices on display, but timing is everything, and most of those fascinating devices were either not available anytime soon or already out.
If you’re a tech fan who’s always said “I’d love to experience CES,” maybe you should save your time and money. You might just be disappointed with what the tech industry has to offer in 2018.
What was the most disappointing thing you read about at CES this year? Was there a particular device that had you excited? Am I just being negative without a good reason? Let’s argue in the comments!