January is here, which means three things – the cold weather really starts to outstay its welcome, its a good time to pick-up a post-Christmas bargain, and CES is here. The Consumer Electronics Show, which is held in Las Vegas in early January each year, sees thousands of manufacturers congregate to show-off their latest products.
T3 has spent the last week trekking around the labyrinthine tradeshow halls to seek out the latest gadgets from well-established brands like Samsung, LG, MSI, Nissan, Google, as well as newer players, including flexible smartphone brand Royole.
After a heated T3 team discussion about everything we'd uncovered at the show, we have picked our favourite products in six key categories.
And, the winners of this year's T3 CES awards are ...
CES 2019: Best Fitness Tech – Withings Move ECG
We've long been fans of the classic stylings of the Withings smartwatch range. At CES 2019, the company unleashed its new Withings Move ECG, which introduces a – yep, you've guessed it – electrocardiogram, or ECG, like the Apple Watch Series 4.
If you're not familiar with the feature, it monitors your cardiovascular health to detect certain heart conditions, such as atrial fibrillation. It's worth noting that ECGs on the Withings and Apple Watch are not accurate enough to replace the electrocardiogram performed by your doctor, but it's enough to give an early indication that there could be something awry and worth looking into – something previous heart monitors built into smartwatches and fitness trackers could not do.
So, how exactly does it work? The Move ECG includes three electrodes, two inside the main body of the watch, and the third electrode in the stainless steel bezel of the watch. If you experience symptoms such as palpitation, simply touch both sides of the bezel to start recording.
After around 30 seconds the Move ECG vibrates to notify you that the reading is complete. It then syncs automatically with the Health Mate app, which displays whether the heart is beating in a normal pattern or whether there are signs of AFib.
As well as this new heart-focused feature, the Withings Move ECG includes all the usual fitness tracking and step count functionality we've come to expect from the brand. The watch is also water resistant up to 50 meters and features a battery life of 'up to 12 months', although repeatedly taking ECG readings will presumably diminish this a tad.
It's compatible with both Android phones, and iPhones, and will be available in Q2 2019 for just £129.95, significantly cheaper than Apple Watch 4.
CES 2019: Best Headphones – Jabra Elite 85H
When it comes to over-ear noise-cancelling headphones, it's tough to rival the award-winning Sony WH-1000XM3 and best-selling Bose QC35 II – and yet, that is exactly what Jabra has done at CES 2019.
The latest headphones from the Danish audio company – Jabra Elite 85H – are a pair of hugely impressive, AI-powered noise-cancelling cans that sit firmly within the 'affordable premium' space with its £279 price tag.
First things first, the Jabra Elite 85H look great. The headphones are covered almost entirely with a mesh material that really helps the Elite 85Hs stand out from the seemingly endless sea of matte plastic rival cans.
But the mesh covering the ear cups and band is not just about aesthetics. Jabra chose the material because it helps to insulate the microphone array from the howl of wind and rain, so that voice commands to the AI assistant – and calls to your mum – will come through loud and clear whatever the weather is doing around you.
Incidentally, the ability to summon the voice assistant preinstalled on your smartphone – whether that's Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant – without the need to press a button is one of the standout features of these new cans. For comparison, Apple's own AirPods cannot summon Siri with the "Hey Siri!" wake word quite yet.
The Jabra Elite 85Hs are positively brimming with AI smarts. During the development of the headphones, the Danish audio manufacturer enlisted the help of AI company audEERING to include their noise-cancelling smarts.
As such, the Elite 85Hs can adapt to level of noise around you, so, for example, if you're wearing the headphones on a plane – the active noise-cancelling will kick-in when the engines fire-up for take-off, then dial it back during the flight itself.
And should a flight attendant come along and need to chat with you, the Jabra Elite 85Hs have the ability to passthrough speech using the microphone array – so you won't embarrass yourself by comically shouting at someone in close proximity.
Jabra Elite 85H are scheduled to launch in the UK around March, or April.
CES 2019: Best Smartphone – Honor View 20
It's not difficult to work out why the Honor View 20 clinched our prestigious Best Smartphone Of CES 2019 accolade – not only is this a stunning looking smartphone, but it's also got some serious grunt under the proverbial bonnet.
Powering the Honor View 20 is the Kirin 980 processor developed by Huawei, which is the same silicon powerhouse inside the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, which we recently named the best Android smartphone that money can buy right now. Honor has paired the Kirin 980 with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, and up to 256GB of onboard storage.
There's also a sizeable 4,000mAh battery cell that promises to keep things ticking along all day and long into the night. On the back of the Honor View 20 is an almost overkill 48-megapixel rear camera. Not shabby at all.
But it's not all about the numbers, and the Honor View 20 certainly delivers on the looks. If this was a beauty pageant, the Honor View 20 would already be wearing the winners' sash and shaking hands with former Apprentice host Donald J Trump.
The rear case of the Honor View 20 is etched with a stunning V-like pattern that shimmers as it catches the light. If it wasn't for the beautiful 6.4-inch LCD display on the front of the device, you could be forgiven for spending the entire time ogling the back of the Honor View 20.
For the display, Honor has used the same "hole-punch" style display as the Samsung Galaxy A8s, which reduces the need for chunky bezels around the screen. The front-facing 25-megapixel camera is housed in a little cut-out in the top left-hand corner of the display – allowing the rest of the screen to bleed to the very edge of the chassis.
Out of the box, the Honor View 20 runs the latest version of Huawei's EMUI mobile operating system, which runs on Android 9.0 Pie. It's fast and smooth – how could it not be with those specs?
Honor has included a handful of useful new tweaks, including a new Link Turbo feature that allows the handset to use its 4G mobile data and Wi-Fi connections simultaneously for different things – so, an app that needs a reliable connection can stick to WiFi, while others could rely on a faster 4G connection to quickly refresh in the background so they're up-to-date whenever you next launch the software.
CES 2019: Best TV – Samsung 98-inch QLED 8K
When it comes to unspeakably large 8K televisions, Samsung is certainly not resting on its laurels. The South Korean company has announced plans to follow up on the 85-inch panel that went on sale last year with a truly humungous 98-incher.
That's big enough to comfortably compete with home cinema projectors.
The latest slew of Samsung QLED models ship in 65, 75, 82, 85, and 98-inch variations. All of the TVs are powered by the Quantum Processor 8K chipset to manage the immense number of pixels being pushed every second.
These latest models also feature Samsung's proprietary AI-based technology that can recognise and upscale any content – yes, even your old Laurel and Hardy recordings – to almost 8K picture quality. Samsung says this process will take place in the background regardless of what input is powering the display – including a set-top box, HDMI-connected console or DVD plater, a streaming service app, or even mobile screen mirroring, like Chromecast. Impressed yet? You should be.
All of the 2019 Samsung-branded television models will soon be able to play anything in your iTunes movie and TV show library. The television models that support iTunes will also ship with AirPlay 2, Apple’s wireless streaming standard, so you'll be able to beam tracks, photos, podcasts and video from your iOS and Mac devices to the goggle-box.
This marks only the second time that Apple has allowed products from a third-party company to access iTunes, with Windows PCs being the first. Dubbed "iTunes Movies and TV Shows", the new app will be preinstalled on 2019 Samsung Smart TVs in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Finally, Bixby – the voice controlled personal assistant developed by Samsung to rival the likes of Google Assistant, Alexa and Siri – has some new skills on the latest television models. The AI assistant leverages your subscription services, favourite shows, and television viewing to suggest it thinks will interest you.
Unfortunately, there's no word yet on pricing, or release date. But stay tuned, we'll let you know when you can upgrade your set as soon as we know.
CES 2019: Innovation Award – Qualcomm 5G
Qualcomm made 5G networks the theme of its CES 2019 booth, occupying a huge percentage of the sizeable floor space secured by the connectivity firm. It's not difficult to see why, manufacturers hope the speed benefits of 5G will spur customers to upgrade to the latest handsets.
The low-latency data links provided by 5G networks will also enable improvements to Internet of Things devices, including communication between self-driving cars to better avoid obstacles and tackle congestion on the roads.
Samsung, LG and OnePlus have already confirmed plans to launch a 5G-compatible device within the next few months, and networks are racing to roll-out the requisite bandwidth to enable the superfast speeds.
"It will be powering nearly every 5G device in 2019," said Pete Lancia, Qualcomm Vice President of Marketing during CES. "The impact of 5G is going to be significant. It's going to enrich lives. It's going to create jobs."
Qualcomm had a slew of demos of the network technology on its stand, and confirmed plans to bring more than 30 devices powered by its 5G compatible silicon this year. The demonstration proved once and for all that the future is almost here.
CES 2019: Best In Show – LG Signature OLED TV R
Well, there really only could be one winner, couldn't there?
For our money, LG stole the show at CES with the introduction of the world’s first rollable OLED TV, the LG Signature OLED TV R. This follows the introduction of last year’s LG Signature OLED TV W, dubbed the wallpaper TV, which could be attached to your living room wall with a few thin magnet strips.
LG’s latest effort is a TV which “seems to magically appear and disappear, a revolutionary innovation that seems to defy logic”, as LG puts it.
The R in the new LG Signature OLED TV R refers to “a revolution in home entertainment and redefining space through its ability to rise and roll-up at the touch of a button,” apparently, although whether the R actually stands for revolution, redefining, rise or roll-up – or all four things – wasn't made clear.
The TV screen can be operated in three modes. In Full View mode, you get the large-screen viewing experience while Line View mode allows the TV to be partially unrolled, allowing for management of specific tasks that do not require the full TV screen. For example, in Line View you can choose from features such as a Clock, Frame, Mood, Music and Home Dashboard.
In Zero View, all 65 inches of the TV is hidden from view, tucked away in the base, while you can still use the 4.2-channel, 100W front-firing Dolby Atmos audio system.
“A rollable OLED TV is a true game-changer, liberating users from the limitations of the wall and freeing them to curate their own personal space which no longer needs to be reserved full time for TV viewing,” says LG. “Free our walls!” says T3.
Congratulations to all the winners!
- Want more from CES 2019? Here's everything announced that you need to know about