Home Trending The Best of CES 2019: Laptops, Smart Home, Parenting, TVs | WIRED

The Best of CES 2019: Laptops, Smart Home, Parenting, TVs | WIRED

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After walking miles of expo hall carpeting, watching countless live demos, and sitting through god knows how many press announcements, we’re ready to declare these ten products to be the best things we saw at CES 2019. Of all the amazing and beautiful gadgets on display here in Las Vegas, these are the products which exhibit the strong sense of innovation and vision within their categories. They achieve this through exquisite industrial design, innovative engineering, and simply seeing the future and realizing it in a product you can touch and hold.

Best Laptop: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

For the first time in ThinkPad history, it’s going aluminum. Lenovo this week unveiled the new ThinkPad X1 Yoga, ditching the foldable laptop’s usual carbon fiber for a CNC-machined, unibody aluminum chassis. It’s 17 percent smaller than last year’s ThinkPad X1 yoga model, has a brighter display, and weighs just a few pounds. It’s also getting internal upgrades: improved speakers, LTE support, and four far-field microphones at the top so you can shout at virtual assistants all day long. Its 8th-generation Intel Core processor will feel outdated as soon as Intel gets around to releasing the 9th generation chip, but the biggest downside might be its price: It will start at $1,929 when it ships in June.—Lauren Goode

Best Home Entertainment: Samsung’s 75-Inch MicroLED 4K TV

Samsung introduced its first MicroLED display at CES in 2018, with a 146-inch behemoth that was mostly useful as proof that the technology could work. But this year, Samsung proved something even more important: that MicroLED could work in your home. The 75-inch model will still cost an arm and a leg and a second mortgage when it ships later this year, but it charts a consumer-focused path for televisions that have the same practically perfect picture as OLED without the potential durability issues. Your next TV set might not be MicroLED, but your best one will be.—Brian Barrett

Best Mobile: Yubico YubiKey for Lightning

If you have any interest in securing your devices—and you should—the YubiKey should be your first stop. Its hardware-based authentication offers an extra layer of protection, and with the advent of the FIDO2 protocol, it can help you ditch passwords altogether. The only problem? Apple’s restrictive rules for accessories have kept it away from iOS. That changed at CES, when YubiKey manufacturer Yubico announced that it had gotten the green light from Apple. Expect a YubiKey that plugs into both Lightning and USB-C ports—for the iPhone and MacBook, respectively—a little later this year. And when it gets here, expect it to save you a whole lot of hassle.—Brian Barrett

Best Transportation: Bell Nexus

The idea of an air taxi can be hard to grasp, and the mention of a flying cars seems fanciful at best. So Bell, best known for building helicopters for 80 years, made its futuristic concept easier to visualize, by building a full-sized, glossy, black, slightly intimidating, version of its proposed five-seater flying machine, and dropping it in the middle of the transportation section of CES. As at least one guy shouted, as he tripped over his feet to look back, “holy sh*t, look at that thing!” The Nexus is a cross between an electric helicopter, and a people-sized drone, with six ducted fans that sit horizontally for lift off, but then rotate to a vertical orientation for efficient forward flight. Bell hopes it’ll convince people that flying cars really are coming, soon, with first flight for the Nexus in the next couple of years, and a traffic-hopping commercial service by 2025.—Jack Stewart

Best Audio: Cambridge Audio Alva TT with aptX HD Bluetooth

While nearly everything in home audio has charged into the wireless streaming future, one category has remained stubbornly tethered: record players. Sure, there are Bluetooth models out there that can stream wirelessly, but they run up against the Bluetooth’s limitations, pumping out less-than-crisp audio that dulls vinyl’s lively vibe. Enter the new wireless version of Cambridge Audio’s Alva TT, the very first wireless turntable to utilize the aptX HD standard, which can stream incredibly high-resolution audio (24-bit/48kHz for the beardos out there) over Bluetooth. All you need is another component that supports aptX HD—and a great many audiophile and home theater amps do, as well as some high-end headphones—then you can listen to your vinyl with the same audio quality that you’d get from a frumpy old wired connection. The wireless version of the Alta TT ships in April, and Cambridge Audio’s 50-year history of designing excellent audio products means it will be well worth the $1,700 price tag.—Michael Calore

Best Parenting: TytoCare

Most parents with a sick kid face a terrible catch-22. Cures mostly involve staying at home, resting, and eating chicken soup. But if your kid is really sick, that’s when you have to drag them into a cold, uncomfortable emergency room to wait for hours. TytoCare is a telehealth solution that lets a parent consult a doctor from home. The kit comes with instruments like a otoscope, stethoscope, tongue depressor, and camera. An app uses AI to guide the parent through an exam, check off symptoms, and lets them record a short video to send to a clinician within the Nationwide telehealth network. A doctor usually responds within 10 to 30 minutes, so you can put the WebMD down.—Adrienne So

Best IoT/Smart Home: KitchenAid Smart Display

Hands-free, step-by-step voice instructions for recipes was one of the most useful features Google added to its voice assistant this year. Unfortunately, the first round of Smart Displays all forgot one thing: kitchens are messy as hell. The KitchenAid Smart Display has a 10-inch screen and most everything else you’d expect in a smart speaker, but it’s built to get dirty, with IPX5 water and dust resistance. You don’t have to fret if you accidentally drop an avocado on it, or spill a bunch of soup next to it. It’s all good. The company even encourages you to clean it in the sink if you need to.—Jeffrey Van Camp

Best Playtime: Sphero Specdrums

There are approximately one billion different blocks, cubes, or robots that purport to teach small children how to code. But few are as irresistibly addictive as the Sphero Specdrums. Use the app to assign different sounds, musical notes, loops, or beats to each color. Then wear the soft, silicone, Bluetooth-enabled ring to play music on included colored playpad, or on the world around you. You can assign custom colors, record samples, mix or produce songs that you’ve played on the carpet or wallpaper. Bonus for parents: There’s nothing to clean up! And they’re even fun to play for adults!—AS

Best Cord-Cutter: Vizio SmartCast

Voice assistants have exploded in the last few years. Problem is, almost every device can connect to Alexa or Google, but rarely both—and Siri, no way. Vizio’s one of the first companies to change that. At CES, it showed off SmartCast 3.0, the latest edition of its TV interface, and it works with Google Home, Alexa, and Apple’s Siri over AirPlay 2. No matter what voice assistant you use, you can stream apps, adjust the volume, cast video, control smart home devices, and perform an ever escalating number of tasks on Vizio TVs. The update be available to new and old TVs later this spring.—JVC

Best Accessory: Otter + Pop Symmetry Series

The best thing to happen to your phone in 2019 isn’t a foldable screen, or 5G. It’s an OtterBox case with a PopSocket built right in. Laugh if you must, but slap on a PopSocket and soon you’ll find it hard to use your phone (or take a selfie, or watch YouTube, or keep your fingers from fidgeting) without one. The marriage of Otter + Pop means you can swap your socket as often as you want, and the appendage lies flush with the case when it’s closed—no unsightly bulge. The case starts at $60, plus $8 for each interchangeable top.—Arielle Pardes

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