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Winners and losers of CES 2021

It’s been a busy week in the world of tech, with the CES 2021 conference unveiling various gadgets from 8K TVs to beer-serving robots. But who were the biggest winners and losers of this year’s CES event?

The Trusted Reviews team has deliberated over this question and argued the case for many companies and products, and now we’ve finally come to agreement.

We’ve picked out three winners of CES 2021 which wowed us the most in the past seven days. And then there are the three losers that failed to whip as much excitement as we hoped. So without further ado, here they are: 

Nvidia 30 Series Gaming Laptops

Winner: Gaming laptops

We were very close to picking Asus or Nvidia as a sole winners for their excellent product reveals at CES 2021, but then we decided to pick the overall ‘gaming laptop’ category because of the outstanding innovation across the board. 

Nvidia launched its 30-Series mobile GPUs which are apparently more powerful than the grunt of a PS5. That’s seriously impressive, but we were also wowed by the new gaming-focused mobile processors from AMD and Intel that promise to not only boost CPU speeds, but also allow manufacturers to create more portable gaming laptops. 

And then came the avalanche of gaming laptop reveals, boasting incredible power, higher refresh rates and the introduction of Quad HD panels for improved resolutions at more affordable prices. 

The Asus ROG Flow x13 gets a special mention for its genius pocket-sized external GPU, but there were plenty more exciting gaming laptops launched from the likes of Acer, Alienware, Gigabyte, MSI and Razer too. Next-gen gaming on a laptop has finally arrived, and we can’t wait to get our hands on one of the new portables. 

Related: Nvidia CES 2021

Winner: LG

Televisions are usually the big hitters of CES and this year was no different. The Samsung Neo QLED and Sony BRAVIA XR ranges both generated a lot of excitement at Trusted Reviews HQ, but we felt that LG had one of the most successful conferences of the whole shebang. 

The new LG G1 Series OLED evo series looks to push the quality of top-end TVs to new heights, featuring a new luminous element that allows for a higher brightness and punchier HDR performance than previous panels. And let’s not forget about LG’s QNED Mini LED technology which will supposedly give LCD TV picture quality a significant boost. 

LG Display (rather than LG Electronics) also confirmed it will be launching 42-inch OLED models for 2021, which will no doubt excite those who simply don’t have the living room space for a 60-inch plus screen. Outside of televisions, LG also unveiled the LG Rollable, which is essentially a smartphone that can expand into the size of a tablet at the press of a button, proving that LG can’t be accused of being a one-trick pony. 

Any one of these product reveals would arguably be enough alone for LG to be considered one of the most exciting companies of CES 2021, but since it launched banger after banger there’s absolutely no question that LG deserves to be right at the top of our rankings. 

Related: LG TV 2021

Front right angled view of a black gaming chair standing on blue-black background

Winner: Razer

The best part of CES is arguably the concepts, which are products that won’t necessarily become available in stores, but demonstrate the exciting potential of technology. Razer is no stranger to wild concepts, but it stepped up its game this year with not one, but two gadgets that we can’t stop thinking about. 

Project Brooklyn sent tongues wagging across the globe, combining a curved 60-inch monitor with a gaming chair for the coolest gaming setup we’ve ever seen. Razer also included haptic feedback HyperSense vibrations, a fold-out keyboard tray and (of course) a slew of RGB lighting on the chair to give it the razzle dazzle polish that Razer products have become renowned for. 

Razer also launched Project Hazel, a ‘smart’ face mask featuring N95 medical-grade respirator protection so you can walk the streets with more protection from COVID-19. Built-in microphones amplify your voice so you don’t have to suffer the muffled speech, while the wireless charging case will impressively disinfect the mask via UV lighting. 

Razer introduced new refreshes to its Razer Blade 15 and Razer Blade Pro 17 ranges, with Nvidia’s 30-Series GPUs pushing the performance power to all-new heights alongside the concepts. While not as exciting as the above concepts, these new gaming laptop updates importantly highlight that Razer is still at the top of its game for gaming hardware, and so can’t be accused of relying solely on its wild imagination. 

Related: Razer Project Brooklyn

Cat cushion ces 202

Losers: Small tech companies

Massive tech companies may dominate the CES spotlight, but it’s the zany products from small-scale companies that usually represent the true spirit of the annual Las Vegas conference.

In recent years we’ve seen AI-powered kitty litter boxes, tail-wagging cushions and self-driving luggage to name just a few. Such wonderful weirdness was arguably absent (or at least diluted) at CES 2021, largely because COVID-19 forced the conference to go digital. 

Instead of being able to steal the attention of onlookers on the CES showroom floor, start-up companies were forced to compete online for exposure, which is an almost impossible task due to the PR muscle behind the likes of LG, Sony and Intel. 

There have been murmurings of CES going digital well before COVID-19 arrived, but now we’ve experienced the digital substitute for the very first time, we’re hoping this isn’t the long-term future for the annual CES conference. Won’t somebody please think about the robots?!

Related: CES 2021

Concept UFO

2019: Alienware Concept UFO

Loser: Dell  

Dell was a victim of its own success in CES 2021. It would be unfair to say the company had a poor showing this year, but it fell way below the high standard we typically expect from the computing brand. 

In previous CES conferences, Dell has wowed the world with prototypes such as the 55-inch Alienware OLED monitor and the Nintendo Switch-esque Concept UFO. There was sadly nothing of that ilk in 2021, with Dell instead prioritising office gadgets. 

That’s an understandable move since most people are working from home right now, but while its 40-inch curved 5K2K monitor is certainly impressive, it’s hardly the kind of announcement that will get people hyped up. 

It has to be said that CES 2021 was bad timing for Dell this year round though, as it launched its excellent Dell XPS 13 range with Tiger Lake a few months prior. But excuses aside, it can’t be denied that Dell had an unusually tame CES showing in 2021. 

Related: Alienware Concept UFO 

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

Loser: Samsung

It was a risky move by Samsung to move the Galaxy S21 launch a month earlier to coincide with CES. By timing the launch of the new flagship phone so that it was one of the very last big-profile gadgets to be announced, it almost felt like the equivalent of a music festival headline act. Unfortunately, the new phone didn’t quite live up to the expectations of its massive hype. 

The Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra were arguably minor updates on Samsung’s preceding phones, while also seeing backwards steps with the plastic rear, expandable storage and capped FHD+ resolution. 

There were so few positive points for Samsung to make that the company spent a ridiculously long time discussing how they found the perfect shade of black for the S21 Ultra during the official launch event – even Bruce Wayne would find that tedious. 

We have to point out that the Galaxy S21 Ultra doesn’t look like a bad phone – far from it, especially with the more affordable price point and refreshed design. But when you compare it to all of the other jaw-dropping reveals of CES 2021, we can’t help feeling it was a bit of damp squib. 

Related: Samsung Galaxy S21

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