back to article CES 2015: The good, the mad and the POINTLESS

Fresh from digesting the gadgets we got for Christmas, the thoughts of tech lovers everywhere turn to Las Vegas. Since it's CES, what happens in Vegas doesn't always tend to stay there, and the annual product-fest is awash with shiny, gleaming tech that could be destined for a living room near you later this year. CES 1978 …

  1. ColonelClaw

    I can't believe you left out the two best gadgets:

    http://www.engadget.com/2015/01/06/1099-are-you-kidding-me/

    http://www.engadget.com/2015/01/06/skechers-simon-memory-game-into-its-new-kids-sneaker/

    And when I say best, I do of course, mean shit.

    1. Tom 35 Silver badge

      How about

      LG's new TV that lets you switch the screen between a flat TV or a Banana TV.

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: How about

        Yes; that sort of thing is ideal for people who are always moving AV gear between round houses and square ones.

  2. Chris G Silver badge

    You've got me brimming

    Over with excitement...NOT.

    Not a single thing of interest. I might have been tempted by say anIoT beer bottle that opens itself and tells me it's beer o clock but the rest you can inzert into a sun free zone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You've got me brimming

      I thought there were already ioT devices for inserting into a sun free zone, possibly not on public display at CES though.

    2. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: You've got me brimming

      I think perhaps one of those new domestic beer coolers, mounted on top of an old Roomba, so you can have it trundle into the room when it's beer time?

    3. Innocent-Bystander*

      Re: You've got me brimming

      "Not a single thing of interest"

      Mostly agree. I do like the new quantum dot tech for TV's, promising CRT grade contrast ratios. That alone would be worthwhile to upgrade my LCD for. If they come in with decent pricing, I'm interested. They don't need to be smart TV's, no fancy crap, just good image quality.

      The rest is noise, as always.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You've got me brimming

        "That alone would be worthwhile to upgrade my LCD for. If they come in with decent pricing, I'm interested"

        "decent pricing" on a new launch product? Maybe you'll get that at a decent price by 2019.

  3. John Miles 1

    Audio cast dongle - yes please

    Agree re. wanting a cheap dongle to allow one to cast audio to 'non-dnla amplifiers' - been wanting something cheap and simple to do this for a long time.

    Of course it would need power as well ( assuming it connects using phono plugs or 3.5mm jack).

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Audio cast dongle - yes please

      I've got an Arcam miniBlink in the living room, which is great with a phone that has aptX. But at £90 it's probably not the sort of thing I'd go out and buy myself.

      But, something that sort of size must surely be possible - or even a matchbox size, with external wall-wart PSU - for audio. Roll them out for £20 each, and I'd have one in every room, especially if they could sync network playback.

    2. fruitoftheloon

      @John Miles 1: Re: Audio cast dongle - yes please

      John,

      We use Spotify on a droid and htpc, for the kitchen (mini system) we use an excellent £30 Bluetooth gizmo (can't remem the name offhand), the sound quality is much better than that from the Note ii, it is MUCH louder, and works about 20-30 ft away too.

      J.

    3. Bassey

      Re: Audio cast dongle - yes please

      Sony sold a gadget for about the £12 mark that was basically just a small bluetooth audio transmitter with a 3.5mm jack. You plugged it into anything with a headphone socket and it allowed you to listen to it with bluetooth headphones. I used to use one to listen to the telly whilst on the treadmill (the treadmill was so noisy I couldn't hear it any other way). Presumably you'd only need the same widget but to work in reverse?

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: Audio cast dongle - yes please

        Well, more or less; but the casting system tends to involve your device not streaming directly to the receiver, but simply sending commands that say "play this stream, from this URL"

        That means there are fewer hops, and even if the battery on the phone, for instance goes flat, the casting device carries on playing

        In theory, you can do more smart things - I don't see why a few devices on the same home network couldn't sync playback between themselves, for instance. So, potentially it can offer a lot more flexibility than simply sending an audio stream over bluetooth.

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
    Happy

    That was a particularly bitter and sarcastic article. What's got into you? Did sir perhaps get out of the wrong side of bed this morning? Perhaps confused by the mirror on the ceiling...

    Well done! Keep up the good work!

    I'll buy an internet fridge the same day I buy IPv6 toilet paper with integrated webcam. Which is never, by the way. So don't worry.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      It's the first week back after the break. PR people are horribly enthused with the delights of new year and a free ticket to Vegas.

      Everyone's convinced they really do have the most *a-ma-zing* things to show us, and their particular gizmo is obviously way better than any other smart watch or iPhone controlled lightbulb ever before in the whole history of stupidly-named gadgetry.

      Sometimes, the only sane thing to do is to crawl out from under the duvet, scowl, pen three pages of bitterness and sarcasm, and then try to sleep again until spring.

    2. Oninoshiko
      Joke

      @I ain't Spartacus

      You mean you don't want to show the world exactly what it might be like to kiss your arse?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The elephant in the room...

    ...Privacy... I think it would be an advantage to Samsung and especially LG (after last year's USB spying fiasco), to make a TV that has a classy picture without the added 20-50 page 'smart TV' privacy disclosure document. Anyone else agree? Yet Instead corporations like Samsung are just ploughing ahead regardless. I don't know about anyone else but this doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy.

    I had a budget for several TV's over Christmas but I only bought one, a 50 inch Plasma because I'm sick of IoT spying, and I knew I wasn't going to run into privacy issues with it. For the spec and cost too (around 300 euro) its fine for Xbox gaming... Why spend more when TV makers just want to quash our privacy like Facebook / Google / Twitter... And don't get me started about the other privacy raping IoT products :-

    ==========================

    ......."Samsung has declared that by 2017 every television it sells will be internet-connectable, prompting one of its executives to suggest we'll soon stop referring to "smart" TVs as such because net-enabled services will be the norm."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30695528

    ==========================

    ......."A "deeply personal" picture of every consumer could be grabbed by futuristic smart gadgets, the chair of the US Federal Trade Commission has warned."

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30705361

    ==========================

    ......."I wouldn't mind people stealing my heart rate data,"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30695527

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Re: The elephant in the room...

      Worse is the fact Samsung's smart TVs put up the occasional pop up ad. It seems it is only when that ad is playing on the TV itself so maybe it isn't too terrible, but as most people skip ads on their DVR I imagine advertisers will view this as a way to force people to see their ads, and Samsung will be happy to take their money to show ads on them. Do you really want to see a pop up ad for Ford cars during a movie when they get into a Ford? That might be the future for smart TV owners. I'll stick with the dumbest TV possible, thanks!

    2. Innocent-Bystander*

      Re: The elephant in the room...

      "...Privacy... I think it would be an advantage to Samsung and especially LG (after last year's USB spying fiasco), to make a TV that has a classy picture without the added 20-50 page 'smart TV' privacy disclosure document."

      Nobody forces you to connect it to the internet. I sure as hell wouldn't.

      1. Fluffy Bunny

        Re: The elephant in the room...

        "Nobody forces you to connect it to the internet. I sure as hell wouldn't."

        Agree, don't conntect it. But how do you stop it from doing it on it's own?

        Microsoft has long had a practice of turning every new feature on at install time (Clippy, anyone?) and making you turn the anoying sod off if you can. Apple has gone one better and designed it's products so they can't be used without a connection (tiny little RAM for instance).

    3. Terry Cloth

      Re: The elephant in the room...

      Precisely.

      I poked around Freeview's website, DDG'd ``freeview {revenue,profit,income} uk'', and read the Wikipedia article on them, and nothing said how they make their money. On the website, the Ts&Cs and privacy statement relate to the site only, not to the service they want to persuade us to use.

      If they get their money from advertisers interrupting at cliffhanger moments (i.e., what broadcast has been doing forever), no sweat. But since they know exactly what we're viewing and when, I suspect they're selling us out by marketing that info to the usual suspects, and modifying the datastream accordingly. For that, they'll just have to keep waiting.

      If they offered the service for a reasonable fee, and ironclad guarantees that none of my information would be passed on, or kept longer than needed to send me the show, I suspect I'd pay.

      Does anyone know roughly how much revenue they expect per person? Or for any other privacy-denying ``service'', say Google?

      1. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: The elephant in the room...

        Freeview itself is, essentially, just a marketing operation for free to air TV. For the vast majority of receivers, they have no way of monitoring what people are watching, because there is no return channel available, or if available actually connected.

        The main purpose of Freeview initially was to ease the transition to digital (and, to a degree, to ensure that the primary channels maintained their pre-eminence in a digital landscape).

        It's now, especially after some of the escapades of the past, also involved more in helping set standards, to ensure that kit marked with their logo performs in the way expected, and gives a consistent experience for users (channels in the same place, trailer booking works, audio description supported, and so on). But the end game is the same - to ensure there is a free to air TV service built around the PSBs.

        The only sense in which Freeview gets money from advertisers is in that it is part-funded by the broadcasters, who themselves get money from advertising, in most cases. In terms of the service they offer to you, the consumer, there is no fee.

        You could argue that then that makes you the product, but unlike people who data mine, that's only in the sense that they are delivering your eyeballs to the programmes made by people on the platform.

        If Freeview kit was reporting home about what people are watching, I rather think someone would have noticed by now.

  6. DougS Silver badge

    HEVC decoder in the TV

    This is only need if you want the TV to directly play content. If you want to use it as TVs traditionally have, until there are broadcast standards for HEVC (which will require updates of ATSC and probably for DVB-T though I'm not sure there) there's no point in having the HEVC decoder.

    How many devices do you need that are capable of playing Netflix, Amazon, Youtube, etc. videos? If your TV does it, when (I say WHEN, not if) it is orphaned from further OS updates, or the decoder hardware won't allow updates, bugs or performance improvements realized through replacing a $100 Roku or whatever won't be available to the TV.

    I'd rather have my TV be a monitor with speakers. Sure, throw in a tuner, though once there is no clear QAM in the US in a few years if will only be useful for OTA. Even today most clear QAM is SD only, the only HD clear QAM I have is my local channels.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: HEVC decoder in the TV

      A lot of people round these parts would much prefer a dumb display.

      However, when it comes to consumers, and the way in which they are marketed to, the whole sorry saga of "HD Ready" proves just how confusing people find these things.

      It's possible to use HEVC with 4K over DVB-T2; there have been some tests doing that. Realistically, I think it's pretty unlikely to happen in the UK, given our forthcoming bandwidth squeeze, but nevertheless, "does it have a decoder" is an issue ordinary punters need to be aware of when they're shopping for these things, just as "does it have HDMI 2" ought to be.

      Otherwise, people will buy kit, especially at the 'bargain' end of the market that's either not able to do what they expect of it, or is underperforming (eg not supporting higher frame rates). And, just as some of us found when patiently explaining what the technical definition of "HD Ready" may be, casual consumers make assumptions - often perfectly reasonable ones - and end up shafted.

  7. thx1138v2

    "Mark my words - before too long, we'll be paying them royalties on everything."

    Sounds like a good time to start up my 1950's percolator refurbishing business.

    But what really scares me is the "connected car" and the inevitable, "We don't support that version anymore. You'll have to upgrade to our latest model."

    "Well, could you just let me drive it to work this morning? I'm running a little tight."

    "No, sir. That's not allowed. We'll have to send Luigi around with your new car if you want to go to work today. And if you don't want to go to work today Luigi will fix it so you don't make it in to the office for a couple of weeks. Please have your credit card ready when he arrives to help speed the process along. We wouldn't want Luigi to get grumpy now, would we? Hmmmm? You did read your end user agreement, didn't you? There's a penalty if Luigi gets grumpy. Oh, and a financial one as well."

  8. dogknees

    "£80 for a pair of lightbulbs, or the best part of £50 for a plug socket control, I think the wise person will wait a while and see how that fad turns out."

    I would have thought the wise person would evaluate the product in light of their individual desires and make a decision on that basis. The wise person certainly wouldn't take any notice of an industry pundit.

    It's funny hearing a journalist saying how badly some technologies get hyped. It's journalists that are the source of the hype. Pot, meet Kettle.....

  9. Beamerboy

    So the wifi kettle...

    ...which isn't actually an upgrade on my analogue/mechanical timing switch which turns on power to the kettle at 7am so its boiled when I get downstairs at 7:10 all for less than £5. Though if they can make it get the beans out the freezer, grind them and add them to the cafetiere/stove top/cappuccino machine that would be great, oh and steam the milk if that's needed and know what I'm going to fancy then maybe it is worth it!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Audio Dongle

    I already have a set up which does this. A raspberry pi with Xbmc (or whatever it's called now). With a £5 2nd hand USB sound card off eBay and a 3.5mm to phono lead. It streams from a server or does AirPlay with no issues and because it's xbmc it does things like Internet radio and remote control from a smartphone.

    1. dc_m

      Re: Audio Dongle

      If you have amp - pure jongo @ 30.00

      Old speakers - I'm looking at a vamp - could be awesome in the garage @ 50.00

      XBMC is great if you don't want to sync between different devices with different operating systems.

    2. Paceman

      Re: Audio Dongle

      I'd like to know more please! Are you using standard xbmc? Do you stream from the same source to multiple locations (Pi's).

      I've seen an HDMI to stereo Phono box that doesn't require a dedicated power supply that you can use with a Chromecast (it uses the Chromecast power apparently) for about £20 - but then you need to add a Chromecast.

  11. Rick Brasche
    Coat

    It's the beginning of the End!

    Now with Infrastructure Dependent Internet Of Things!

    pretty much sums it up.

    My coat, is not connected, Cloudy or "converged" either.

  12. Nigel 9

    Nailed it.

    "this does open the world of living room tech to a whole host of fanbois who'll be able to infest comments sections arguing that one brand of TV is better than another because it's open source."

    This.... God help AVForums ;-)

  13. mix
    Thumb Up

    Like a Pebble then?

    "Unless there's something really compelling, and affordable, that I can program myself in some way, I suspect I'll be giving those a miss."

    A smartwatch that tracks fitness and sleep, you only need to charge once a week and you can code your own apps and watchfaces. Albeit it is almost double your £50 budget.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      Re: Like a Pebble then?

      Exactly; the Pebble is the one that has caught my interest so far, and if it was £50, I'd pick one up in a flash just to play around with.

      1. mix
        Happy

        Re: Like a Pebble then?

        I treated myself for Christmas, very happy with it. Anything that forces me to start looking at C code again must be good. :D

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