The Best of CES 2018: All the highlights from this year’s Vegas tech bonanza

CES 2018 has reached its conclusion once more, following a week of the world’s leading tech manufacturers showing off their latest products, newest gadgets, and best innovations at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Here’s everything you need to know about CES 2018, including all the highlights, biggest news, best product reveals and hands-on reviews from the show floor. From TVs and laptops to cars, smart home technology, and VR, our best of CES 2018 guide features all the biggest CES announcements and explains what they mean for you. 

Whether you want company-specific news from the likes of Google, HTC, Lenovo LG, Nvidia, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Samsung and Sony, or are curious about the show-stopping power cut at the Las Vegas Convention Center that took place during the middle of the expo, all the latest news and highlights are here in one handy place. Yes, even the robot strippers.

The Best of CES 2018: Highlights and all the biggest reveals from Las Vegas

After months of guesswork and rumours, all the major companies made their CES announcements, so let’s take a look and what the big players got up to during the world’s biggest tech event.

Because we don’t like to play favourites, the following roundup is in alphabetical order.

Acer at CES 2018: News and highlights

Swift 7

On the computing front, Acer was one of the first companies to make waves this year, launching an upgraded version of its sleek Swift 7 Ultrabook. The Acer Swift 7 (2018) is now your new ‘world’s thinnest laptop’, and packs built-in 4G LTE connectivity to boot. Pricing will comfortably clear the £1,000 mark when it becomes available later in the year, making it an immediate rival to the equally new 2018 Dell XPS 13.

Asus at CES 2018: News and highlights

Chromebox 3

Not wanting to be left behind, Asus had a significant announcement of its own, unveiling a new small-form-factor PC, the Mac mini-like Chromebox 3. As the name suggests, it will run Chrome OS, while support for both dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Gigabit LAN mean that 4K video streaming should be a breeze.

Byton at CES 2018: News and highlights

CES always produces at least one sleeper hit, and this year Chinese startup Byton is in pole position to take home the honours. Following a handful of teaser images released prior to the show, the new Byton electric car has now been officially unveiled.

And it’s a feast for the eyes, whether you’re an electric car enthusiast or just a plain ol’ petrolhead. It hits the crucial 0-60 mark in roughly five seconds, which isn’t quite a track-worthy spec, but is impressive nonetheless. The company is striving to improve its self-driving capabilities, too, ahead of an expected consumer launch in 2019.

Dell at CES 2018: News and highlights

 

We already knew what to expect from Dell, even before its CES press conference.

Ahead of this year’s show, the company revealed a new XPS 13 laptop, with the key talking point being that the refreshed model packs Intel 8th-gen Core i series chips, as well as  the option of a 4K screen – just like big sibling the XPS 15. We got a a chance to go hands-on with the new Dell XPS 13 (2018), while the XPS 15 also got a new look, transforming into a 2-in-1 device at this year’s show. Read our Dell XPS 15 (2-in-1) hands-on review to learn more.

The new XPS 13 enjoys a number of external tweaks, coming thinner and lighter than ever before in a snazzy new Rose Gold finish. It was one of the most highly anticipated laptops of CES 2018, so watch our first look video (above) to see it in all its glory.

Related: Dell XPS 13 (2018) vs XPS 15 (2-in-1)

Google at CES 2018: News and highlights

Google has been surprisingly busy at CES 2018, using the show to launch a massive Google Assistant offensive for the year ahead.

Its ‘Hey Google’ event in Vegas featured more products than you could shake a croupier rake at, with the internet giant showcasing a bevy of new third-party wares that will feature its AI helper.

Smart speakers, intelligent touchscreen devices, and headphones were particularly well represented, with the likes of Bang & Olufsen, Jaybird, JBL, Lenovo, LG, Klipsch, Panasonic, RIVA Audio and Sony all revealed to be developing new Assistant-ready kit.

However, it’s probably Assistant’s Android Auto integration that has us most excited, with Big G announcing a new Actions feature for Android Auto (see video above) that will allow you to access directions, reminders, music and more through voice commands on compatible cars.

Kia will be one of the first auto makers to join the party, with Assistant set to play a central role in a number of its top 2018 models, including the K900, Optima, and Soul EV.

Think Google Assistant is happy playing second-fiddle to Amazon’s Alexa? Judging by CES, it’s time to think again.

Elsewhere, Google-owned smart thermostat Nest has combined forces with iconic lock maker Yale to create the Nest x Yale Lock, a new smart lock that promises more intelligent home security and is another one of this year’s CES sleeper hits.

HTC at CES 2018: News and highlights

Rumours of a Vive follow-up launching at CES sounded almost too good to be true, but that’s exactly what Taiwanese outfit HTC treated us to this year.

The new HTC Vive Pro looks set to usurp its predecessor as the world’s most premium VR headset, boasting an improved display resolution and pixel density. It doesn’t quite offer the 4K experience many of us were hoping for, but its 2880 x 1600 dual OLED display still represents a 78% improvement on the original Vive – and its jumps 74% to 615ppi to boot.

A redesigned head strap should make it easier to mount and unmount the Vive Pro, but probably the best bit is that HTC has confirmed it will be offering an official Vive Wireless Adapter from summer. We’ve often said that cutting the cord is essential to VR hitting the big time, so this is very exciting news idneed.

Pricing and exact release dates for HTC’s new kit are still to be confirmed, but judging by the price of the original Vive, the Pro won’t come cheap.

Intel at CES 2018: News and highlights

Much to the delight of PC gamers, Intel finally lifted the lid on its first batch of CPUs to feature AMD Vega graphics at CES 2018. The new chips are designed to bring improved gaming to a number of this year’s ultraportable laptops, with Intel’s AMD Vega chips set to be available in Core i5 and Core i7 variants.

One of the first machines to break cover? The updated HP Spectre x360 (2018), which was also unveiled at the show and is pictured above.

An important aside was that Intel also pledged to patch all Meltdown and Spectre affected chips by the end of the month, which is good news for – well, pretty much everyone who owns a computer of any ilk!

Lenovo at CES 2018: News and highlights

Chinese tech giant Lenovo might have been one of the last big names to hold a CES press conference, but it still had plenty to share with us, not least its eagerly anticipated standalone Daydream VR headset. Dubbed the Lenovo Mirage Solo, it offers a tether-free, phone-free VR experience – the first product of its kind on Google’s Daydream platform. Set to retail for “under $400” (read: $399.99), it’s pricier than Google’s Daydream View headset, but will work out cheaper when you account for the cost of a Daydream-ready phone.

Lenovo also had a bevy of new laptops, tablets and monitors to show. For starters, its ThinkPad range has been updated with 2018 models of the ThinkPad Carbon, Yoga, and Tablet. The trio have a few particularly interesting new features, including support the Dolby Vision HDR standard, Intel 8th Gen chips, and (tablet notwithstanding) built-in Amazon Alexa. These machines are joined by a refreshed ThinkVision X1 4K monitor – and that’s not all.

There’s also the all-new Lenovo Miix 630, which is one of the first laptops to be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset. This Windows-running device was teased in late 2017 when we attended the Qualcomm Summit, and we finally got a chance to try one out at CES – read our full Lenovo Miix 630 hands-on review to find out more.

Of its other major announcements, the Lenovo Smart Display (pictured above) garnered the most attention. It’s basically an Amazon Echo Show, but swapping Alexa for Google Assistant as its AI helper of choice. Our man on the ground, Maxwell Parker, reckoned its biggest selling point is its design, declaring it to be a more stylish alternative to the Echo Show in his Lenovo Smart Display hands-on review. It’s set to be released in the US in summer 2018 and is expected to come to the UK thereafter.

LG at CES 2018: News and highlights

Prior to CES, LG was one of a number of firms to make big pre-show announcements, revealing that it would be showcasing a ‘rollable’ 65-inch 4K OLED at this year’s show, whetting the appetite of TV enthusiasts everywhere.

True to its word, that’s exactly what happened, with a prototype of this incredible concept shown off on stage at LG’s presser – as were all of LG’s 2018 OLED TVs.

Alongside these high-end sets, there was also some spotlight time for the company’s new ThinQ sub-brand, which will see the South Korean outfit baking AI technology into everything from TVs and speakers to fridges, air conditioners, and even robots – though that particular demo didn’t quite go according to plan.

Its Google Assistant-equipped LG ThinQ WK9 smart display failed to impress US reporter Chris Smith, however, who said it had been “beaten with the ugly stick,” though we’ll have to review it in full before declaring his vanity right or wrong.

Nvidia at CES 2018: News and highlights

 

Causing a stir early on at this year’s CES was Nvidia, which announced that it will start producing mammoth 65-inch Big Format Gaming Displays, or BFGDs for short. These will feature a 4K resolution and HDR support, as well as G-Sync compatibility. Manufacturing partners announced at the show include HP, Acer and Asus. There’s no word on pricing or availability yet, but we’re hoping to learn more in the near future.

Read our complete guide to Nvidia BFGDs to learn more.

Panasonic at CES 2018: News and highlights

Panasonic FZ950

One of the first big names out of the gate at this year’s CES was Panasonic. It unveiled its highly anticipated follow-up to last year’s excellent Panasonic EZ1000 OLED TVs. Our Home Technology Editor, Ced Yuen, reckons the Japanese firm’s new FZ950 and FZ800 sets are the “closest thing to Hollywood in your home.”

Sound exciting? We thought so, too, but if that’s not your cup of tea, the firm also outed a handful of new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players – and a Google Assistant smart speaker for good measure.

Qualcomm at CES 2018: News and highlights

Qualcomm CES

Chip maker Qualcomm used its CES soap box to reveal more about its car ambitions, announcing that the automotive version of its well-known Snapdragon platform  – unsurprisingly known as the Snapdragon Automotive Platform – will feature in the 2018 Honda Accord and future Jaguar Land Rover vehicles. Among other things, Qualcomm will be helping to power in-car info and entertainment, as well as 4G and Wi-Fi connectivity.

Here’s the full story.

Samsung at CES 2018: News and highlights

 

Unsurprisingly, Samsung’s CES manifesto centred on its TV plans for 2018 – but that doesn’t mean it was all plain sailing, far from it.

Instead, Sammy outlined the bold strategy it believes will help it conquer OLED with its own TV technologies this year. It consists of three parts: significant upgrades to its existing QLED range in the short term; the introduction of 8K Micro Full Array TVs later in the year; and, finally, its first Micro LED offering in late-2018 or early 2019.

Read our full guide to Samsung’s QLED vs OLED battle plan to learn more.

Away from TVs, the company firm revealed an intriguing new notebook that seemingly combines the best of a light laptop with one of the Galaxy Note 8‘s most useful features – the S Pen stylus – and outed an upgraded Samsung Family Hub smart fridge (2018) that now comes complete with Bixby, SmartThings integration, and AKG speakers.

Smartphones weren’t forgotten, either, with Samsung outing a new mid-range phone, the Galaxy A8. Sammy’s ‘A’ series phones sit just below their flagship ‘S’ devices, bringing some of those devices’ fancier features to a more affordable price point. Read our Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) hands-on review for more or watch the video above.

There was no Galaxy S9 reveal, however, although speculation has it that the oft-rumoured foldable Galaxy X smartphone might have gotten a secret reveal behind closed doors at CES. What we do now know for sure, though, is that the S9 will launch at Mobile World Congress in February, as Samsung mobile boss DJ Koh spilled the beans out in Vegas.

It has been a busy few days for the South Korean chaebol, that’s for sure!

Related: Samsung Notebook 9 Pen hands-on review

Sony at CES 2018: News and highlights

Japanese electronics giant Sony has been plenty busy at CES, too.

On the mobile front, Sony launched its first new Xperia phones of 2018 in the form of the Xperia L2, Xperia XA2 and Xperia XA2 Ultra. The mid-range trio sees the Japanese tech giant finally unlock its fingerprint scanning tech for the US market, as well as boosting the processor to a Snapdragon 630 and upping the camera spec. The 6-inch XA2 Ultra is arguably the most interesting, as – while pricing hasn’t been confirmed – it’s likely to be one of the more affordable options if you want a really, really big Android phone, given where the company’s XA range sits in Sony’s overall mobile portfolio.

Related: Sony Xperia XA2 Ultra hands-on review

In addition, the firm has revealed an update to last year’s excellent A1 OLED – the Sony AF8 OLED.

CES 2018 Highlights: The best of the rest

That’s most of the major manufacturers accounted for, but there have been a number of other noteworthy announcements worth knowing about.

On the mobile front, Alcatel unveiled a trio of new Android smartphones, headlined by the surprisingly interesting sounding Alcatel 5. Why’s it worth mentioning? Well, Alcatel’s phones rarely come with top shelf prices, but the 5 looks set to get an 18:9 display, which typically only features on flagship smartphones. We suspect said display will have a Full HD+ resolution, and the company also talked up a “large battery” for the device – something in the region of a 3000mAh cell sounds about right to our eye. Read our full report to learn more.

Luxury Danish brand Bang & Olufsen made an appearance at this year’s CES, albeit under the guise of its B&O Play lifestyle brand. There were a pair of new headphones on offer, with new flagship over-ears the Beoplay H9i joined by “revitalised classic” cans, the Beoplay H8i. As you’d expect, both are sleek and stylish as well as boasting solid audio credentials at a relatively affordable (for B&O) price point.

Beoplay H8i

TCL had a relatively busy CES, most notably talking up its role as saviour of the BlackBerry phone brand. We learned that the BlackBerry Motion will finally be coming to the US, but more intriguingly, that company has plans to launch new BlackBerry phones in 2018. There’s also going to be a new flavour of the BlackBerry KEYone, the Bronze Edition, that will feature dual-SIM support – perfect for those who like to keep work and play separate (or are having an affair). Elsewhere, TCL unveiled the Roku Smart Soundbar, and there’s no prizes for guessing what that’s all about.

On the smartwatch front, Casio had an expected trick up its sleeve in the form of the solar-charging Casio G-Shock Rangeman GPR B-1000. This GPS watch is also the first in the G-Shock range to support wireless charging, and boasts an overall (claimed) battery life of over 30 hours on a full charge. The solar charging capabilities don’t sound super practical for day-to-day use – you’ll need a four hour sun boost to get one hour’s worth of juice – but it could come in handy for more adventurous types.

If you were expecting a flashy new drone from DJI, you’ll be leaving Vegas disappointed this year, but the company did out an updated version of its excellent Osmo Mobile smartphone gimbal – the Osmo Mobile 2. There’s plenty to like here, as not only is the Osmo Mobile 2 lighter than its predecessor, it’s also cheaper, so it should appeal to casual as well as more serious videographers.

DJI Osmo Mobile 2

Car manufacturer Ford made a small but important announcement with new partner Waze. The two revealed that 2018 Fords will benefit from direct Waze integration via Ford’s built-in Sync 3 infotainment system, so you’ll be able to take advantage of Waze’s crowdsourced maps and navigation without the need for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay support.

Whilst not a blockbuster reveal, Garmin updated its solid Forerunner 645 running watch, announcing the Garmin Forerunner 645 Music. As the name suggests, this iterative refresh is all about improving the device’s musical capabilities, ushering in on-board storage for your tunes and support for Bluetooth headphones. Check out our Garmin Forerunner 645 Music hands-on review to learn more.

It was a fairly quiet outing for Chinese tech giant Huawei, with the firm’s only real noteworthy announcement being that the excellent Huawei Mate 10 Pro – its latest flagship – has finally been cleared to land in the US.

Digital assistants are all the rage at this year’s CES, and one of the most promising products we’ve seen comes from Jabra in the form of the Jabra Elite 65t, which are true wireless earbuds that support a full suite of AI helpers in Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri. We’ve been impressed by the quality of Jabra’s microphones in the past, so we have high hopes for these fitness-friendly earbuds.

Jabra Elite 65t

One of the more interesting CES 2018 announcements came from Kodak. The legacy photography brand pulled a bit of a shocker, launching a new blockchain platform for photographers, KodakOne, alongside its own cryptocurrency, KodakCoin. While surprising to say the least, our staff writer Josh Levenson reckons it’s actually “relatively practical.” Read his full report to find out why it might not be quite as much of a shameless PR stunt as it sounds.

Iconic German auto firm Mercedes-Benz didn’t have any new wheels to show off (CES isn’t the show for that), but its new native MBUX infotainment system could blow Apple CarPlay and Android Auto away. Always-on voice controls will let drivers control maps, music, temperature and even seat position, with the new tech set to debut with the next A-Class series in February.

Those looking to improve the quality of their sleep could do worse than check out Nokia’s new Nokia Sleep sensor, which is a discreet Wi-Fi connected sensor you place under your mattress that feeds back a range of sleep cycle data, including how much time you spend in light, deep and REM stages of shut-eye. Nokia (or rather, Nokia Health – formerly Withings) says better sleep recognition can help you get up to 12 more minutes of slumber a night. To this end, the Nokia Sleep syncs with the Nokia Health Mate app for easy visibility and is compatible with other Nokia Health products like the excellent Nokia Body smart scales, as well as supporting IFTTT recipes. Read our Health and Fitness Editor Richard Easton’s guide to the best sleep tech of CES for more.

Nokia Sleep

Superhero fans will want to take of One61 Studio’s new Batman-themed smartwatch. Its feature set is extremely basic as it doesn’t run a full-fledged OS, but that’s OK. Because Batman.

4K projectors are nothing new, but 4K projectors with built-in voice assistants? That’s a very 2018 development – and exactly what Optoma had up its sleeve at CES this year. The new Optoma UHD51A might have slightly utilitarian naming, but it’s the first projector of its kind to feature Amazon Alexa voice controls. Set to go on sale in select regions at the end of March, expect UK pricing to comfortably clear the £1000 mark when its come to pricing.

Audio specialist Polk announced what might just be the best sounding product at CES to launch with Alexa integration, the new Polk Command Bar. It features the usual array of Alexa functionality, including the ability to voice control your music streaming, smart home devices, and other AV kit, as well as some very decent specs: there’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, of course, plus two 1.25 x 3.25-inch full-range drivers, two 1-inch tweeters and a wireless 6.5-inch subwoofer. Best of all, it’ll launch at the more affordable end of the soundbar spectrum, with initial pricing set for $299 when it hits shelves in April.

If you haven’t yet heard of UAV specialist PowerVision, it’s a company well worth keeping an eye on if the PowerVision PowerEgg drone on display at CES is anything to go by. It’s quite unlike any drone we’ve seen before. When closed, it resembles one of the spooky egg-shaped vessels that feature in Denis Villeneuve’s film Arrival, but then – seemingly out of nowhere – it expands and grows propeller arms, four legs, and the ability to fly and shoot video in 4K. A classic CES ‘WTF?!’ moment if ever there was one.

You might associate gaming company Razer more with laptops and peripherals, but at CES it was all about showing off the prowess of its new Razer Phone. First up was the news that it’ll be the first handset to offer Netflix with both HDR and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 support, which should make it the best phone to catch-up on your favourite shows while on-the-go. More intriguingly still is Razer Project Linda, the firm’s prototype for a future laptop that will be powered completely by the Razer Phone. This is a concept that many have failed at, but judging by what we saw on the ground, Razer has the best chance yet at cracking the elusive ‘lapdock’.

There were robots aplenty at this year’s CES, but for the average punter, the most interesting reveal arguably came from Segway. It unveiled a consumer version of the Segway Loomo, which is part hoverboard, part mechanical companion – and all gnarly. As is often the case at CES, there’s no news of price or a release date just yet, but it could be one of 2018’s most talked about gadgets, should it see light of day in the not-too-distant future.

Keep reading for key details such as the CES 2018 dates.

CES 2018 Dates: When did CES 2018 start and end this January?

The dates of CES 2018 were January 9-12, with media-only events scheduled for January 7 and January 8. If you had a pass, you were free to roam the Las Vegas Convention Center and check out all the latest and greatest gizmos – the best of which we’ve outlined above – for yourself.

As we just hinted at, though, CES is a trade show, meaning you’re meant to have an industry affiliation to be able to attend. If you’re thinking about going next year, these passes aren’t quite as difficult to get hold of as they sound, though, as a standard attendee pass costs at least $300 – for that money, we reckon the event organisers will probably overlook any ‘creative liberties’ you might take in the credentials section of your registration.

To recap: CES kicked off in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 9 and ended on January 12. Media briefings and press conferences took place on January 7 and January 8, the details of which you can find in our complete CES 2018 news and highlights guide above.

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What’s the best thing you’ve seen come out of CES 2018? Be sure to let us know over on Facebook or Twitter @TrustedReviews.