Today’s big CES news was about TVs. LG and Samsung have discovered that they have to make the equivalent of concept cars for TV: things that attract your attention are a bit bizarre and will be bought by exactly 28 people (29 for the good things). Chris Welch went outside and looked at everything, so I encourage you to click through the links below. Especially the video with the running Sero TV from Samsung is great.
Later in the week I let Chris make a good analysis of the TV trends at CES instead of doing something myself. The pixels still need a little more time to warm up. Instead, I want to write briefly about my favorite CES announcement so far.
Yesterday I wrote about how CES is a place where we can actually pay attention to the things that smaller companies make instead of just giving the giants. So I put my newsletter in my place and write about my favorite thing so far, which happens to come from a company you might not be familiar with.
It is the Netatmo’s HomeKit smart lock, which uses physical NFC keys.
When you hear NFC, you probably only think about tapping your phone. So naturally you assume that this is just a smart lock that you tap with an NFC key to open it.
It is a real key-shaped key. You have to put it in the lock and turn it, just like a regular key. But where a regular key has a number of teeth that must be dragged in by a locksmith, this key uses NFC.
I think it’s great because it offers you many advantages of a smart slot with fewer disadvantages. Let me explain:
- Because it uses NFC to authenticate in the slot instead of ground metal, you can program these keys yourself. You don’t have to go to a locksmith to “change your lock” or have a new key made. You can simply order a few keys and tap a few buttons in an app.
- Because these keys are only NFC codes and the locks are only NFC readers, there is no reason that a single key could not unlock multiple different locks. You could mix and match the access to doors just like when you are a sort of office manager.
- Because it is a physical lock and there is no motor in it, you can feed it with four AAA batteries and you don’t have to replace them often. Unfortunately, it does not offer all the advanced remote unlocking features that you get with more advanced locks, but that consideration might be worth it.
- Because it is a smart lock, you can still unlock it via the app (or with HomeKit) if you lose your key.
- Moreover, Netatmo does not charge you any monthly costs.
Netatmo is a French company that has been around for eight or nine years and although it doesn’t count technically as a small company because it was purchased by Legrand in 2018, it is still a damn image smaller than Amazon, Google, Apple or Samsung. The products are also elegantly designed.
Above all, I really love this product because it uses technology that has literally been around for years. Netatmo was simply thinking about how best to deploy it in a way that solves some of the problems that smart locks are designed to solve, while avoiding some of the problems that they cause. It’s just smart.
When a technological innovation comes from a large company, it is usually because that company has enormous resources, huge factories and thousands (if not tens of thousands) of engineers. The smart slot of Netatmo is an innovation that does not stem from brutal business power, but from smart people who think about practical problems and find practical solutions for them.
Even if it doesn’t have all the features you might want and even if you buy something more enthusiastic, you still have to admire the whole idea here. It’s the kind of product that lets you go “why didn’t I think about that?”
CES TV News
└ The new Samsung Sero TV can rotate vertically for your TikTok and Instagram videos
To realize its smart rotary design, the Sero has an integrated, non-removable stand with a 4.1-channel 60-watt speaker system on the inside. This standard offers sufficient vertical free space to prevent the TV from touching the floor when it is converted into a portrait.
└ Samsung details its stunning rimless 8K TV
The new QLED 8K uses 99 percent of its front for the display. There is a bezel, but it is hard to observe at just 2.3 millimeters. The TV itself is incredibly thin at 15 millimeters. Samsung has AI-powered upscaling on the device to make content look closer to native 8K resolution. There was a shortage of 8K content at CES last year, and absolutely nothing about that situation has changed before 2020. That’s why the idea of buying this TV is so hard to recommend
└ The Vizio 2020 line-up includes the largest TV ever and the first ever OLED
Vizio’s line-up is very large and the OLED switch is a big problem for the company, but in general I can’t help but I feel that this is still a company trying a few years ago to recover from huge errors. There was a big guess that people would want a tablet instead of a TV interface that didn’t come out and an attempt to sell to LeEco that really didn’t come out. I own a Vizio TV from a few years ago and every time I use it, I can feel the kind of sadness that comes from the firmware that has trouble using it. Hopefully we look at a change here.
└ The new Vizio soundbar rotates its speakers for better Dolby Atmos surround sound
TVs that run! Soundbars that rotate! What else can we rotate? I hope for a streaming box that also serves as Lazy Susan for starters. (I also just learned that we may never know why they are called Lazy Susans.)
CES PC news
└ Here is the first eGPU housing from Lenovo and an accompanying ‘gaming laptop’
We have heard promises for years that people would buy thin and light gaming laptops and large external GPUs. They are there now – they HAVE BEEN here – and I must say that I do not know that this is really going to happen for the industry. I’m a bit sad about that, because more modularity seems better to me. I would like to be wrong about this, but I doubt that this Lenovo installation will be something I’m wrong with.
└ Acer updates transforming Spin laptops with Intel 10th Gen chips
I’m not sure this is Acer’s bread and butter laptop these days, but that’s how I feel. Good to see it gets the newest chips.
└ The ConceptD 7 Ezel from Acer is a smaller transforming laptop designed for makers
└ The updated Elite Dragonfly G2 from HP is the first laptop with a built-in tile follower
I must say that I am really shocked that Tile has not done his best to just license his brand and to be built into every conceivable thing. Perhaps with Apple’s competing Tag still in Rumorland, Tile can run and do exactly that. Sounds like a smart idea.
└ The 15-inch Specter x360 from HP is being upgraded with smaller edges and a good trackpad
CES News that is not TVs or PCs, but still
└ After being banned in 2019, Lora DiCarlo returns to CES with two new sex toys and awards
We went to see one of them at the CES Unveiled press event last night and it is really remarkable. You can see why it had won a prize last year. We will have a more detailed story tomorrow after this newsletter enters your inbox, beware of it.
└ Arlo’s new Floodlight camera requires no wiring
Arlo tells The Verge that the faceplate delivers 2,000 lumens brightness on battery power. That is less clear than the 3000-lumen Ring Floodlight camera owned by Amazon, but the Ring camera must be connected to the electrical system in your home. You can also connect Arlo’s Floodlight camera to your electrical system, and if you do, Arlo says it can also shine at 3000 lumens.
└ Suunto’s first Wear OS smartwatch takes on Garmin with offline offline maps
It’s easy to wear on Wear OS and I love simple things, so I love Wear OS a lot. In a world where it was better managed and there were better chips for it, I think we would see much more innovation in such watches, using the Google platform. It should be an expandable platform, not just something that makes Fossil say it has smartwatches.
This is not a small watch, with a face of 50 mm (1.97 inches) and a body that is more than half an inch thick. But that is not unusual for watches that can be worn while swimming laps (it is water resistant to 50 meters) or weaving a mountain bike along a tree-covered path.
└ The new Galaxy S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite phones from Samsung are very confusing
More news from The Verge
└ The toy robots of Anki are saved from a digital death
└ Toripon is a great way to relax by taking pictures of cute virtual birds
Raise your hand if you miss Pokémon Snap for the Nintendo 64.
└ GoPro Karma drones grounded worldwide, thanks to possible GPS glitch
└ Fisker introduces $ 37,500 electric SUV with a sunroof
Fisker has always been a man who is known for his ambitious vision – for example, his company also tries to bring a solid-state battery to the market – but he also often has difficulty implementing. Even if the Fisker Ocean comes on the market in the time frame it focuses on, it will enter an increasingly busier market that is much more populated than just Tesla’s electric vehicles.