The Consumer Electronics Show (CES)—the annual soiree where technology companies from across the world converge on the small flashy town of Las Vegas in the middle of the American desert to announce what they intent to do over the next few months—just got over. Though this was the first year I attended one, having tracked the event for many years, this must clearly mark as one of the dullest in recent years.
There were no major announcements from most of the global giants, spare the regular patrons like Dell and Lenovo. Dell showcased the XPS 13, arguably the thinnest laptop around at the moment. The idea is to take on MacBook Air in the market where its dominance has been growing, but since India is still not among those markets, we are not sure Dell will bring this here. Just opposite the Dell hub was Lenovo’s, showcasing a host of items including a joint venture with NEC to create an unbelievably light laptop called the Lavie. For the record, this 13-incher weighs just 700 grams.
Lenovo is also eyeing a leadership role in the Indian smartphone market and made its intentions clear by launching the A6000 budget 4G LTE device with Flipkart. The phone will take on the likes of the Xiaomi Redmi Note and the Yureka Yu, and will be priced competitively, well under R10,000, maybe just above its Moto E phone. There is clear indication that all stakeholders are gearing up for a boom in demand when 4G finally becomes a national phenomenon in India. In fact, you will see more value-for-money devices in this range from the likes of ZTE, which showed two phones—the Star 2 and the Nuoio Z7—that could soon be wooing buyers in India.
Despite the lack of big bang announcements of the sort we have come to expect from the CES, there is no doubt that innovation is thriving across the world. There seem to be a lot of companies working on making the wearable much more than a simple fitness tracker. The show was full of fitness trackers but it was also good to see devices like the Violet, which reads the skin type of the user and alerts if the UV rays in the sunlight are at harmful levels. In fact, there is a division of Motorola working on creating wearables for your pet. If you were wondering why a dog would want to use a wearable, the Motorola Scout 5000 lets the dog answer calls from the master, who could technically be a continent away.
There was some Indian presence too, though unlike last year none of the local smartphone manufacturers had events or booths. One significant participant was Tata Elxsi which showcased some cutting-edge automotive technology that integrates with other devices of the user. While the company white-labels most of its products for larger auto brands, looking at what was on show in the auto sections the team from Bangalore seems to be on the ball with what they are doing.
As far as general trends are concerned, it was pretty certain that 4K is now becoming the standard for top-end televises and is also making inroads into computing devices thanks to the drop in price levels. Thankfully, 4K content will also become more accessible due to efforts from the likes of chipmaker MediaTek, which has joined hand with Sony and Google to bring to the market the first Android Lollipop televisions. The Taiwanese company, which is the top maker of chipsets for televisions—though it is more popular for the budget smartphones it powers in emerging markets like India—will enable users to beam 4K and other content from their smartphone to television and audio devices using Google Cast.
Though not yet relevant to a market such as India, smart home technology seems to be perfecting itself and adding more facets. Outside the home, cars are becoming smarter. In fact, smart enough to let the driver sit in a lounge chair and chat with other passengers, as Mercedes-Benz showcased with its concept car, the self-driving F 015. It is too early to say if any of these technologies and devices have a bright future, but there is no doubt that we are headed for smarter times.