With the end of yet another Consumer Electronics Show drawing near, it's time to look back on a week of newly unveiled tech goodies, sifting the wheat from the chaff as we run down our favourite gadgets from CES 2013.
It's a year of subtle change for the tech industry; 3D TV made way for 4K Ultra high-definition as the headlining feature of many an AV showcase, smartphones continued to blur the lines with tablets as average screen sizes continued their upwards rise and a few unexpected players entered the gaming hardware race.
But change of an even more significant kind is certainly in the air. There's a sense that physical hardware has hit a kind of plateau, where the services contained within rather than the device itself are more important. For many, CES 2013 felt like the end of an era, the changing of the guard as the "internet of things" and cloud connectivity dominated an event that was once the domain of high end AV and cutting-edge gadgetry. Sure, there was impressive hardware on show, of which we're about to pick the best of the bunch, but one now wonders how important, or even how relevant, a giant event like CES is any more.
Still, there were plenty of lust-worthy devices on the show floor that we can't wait to get a nice long play with. Here is Tech Digest's CES 2013 Best in Show selection.
Razer have a vocal community of fans who offer invaluable feedback when producing the company's upcoming gaming hardware devices. And having that source of real-gamer feedback has certainly proved its worth with the development of last years Project Fiona gaming tablet, reborn at CES 2013 as the Razer Edge. A 10-inch full Windows 8 tablet that's just as comfortable as a portable PC gaming machine as it is tablet or even desktop replacement, it's a nifty design that makes high-end, portable PC gaming a reality.
Two models are available, the Razer Edge and the Razer Edge Pro. The entry level unit starts at around £650 and packs in a Core i5 processor, discrete Nvidia GT 640M GPU, 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. The £1000 Pro model jumps up to a Core i7 with the same Nvidia GPU, 8GB of RAM and either a 128 or 256GB SSD depending on how much extra cash you're willing to lay out.
With those specs (especially the Pro model) you'll be able to do some serious gaming on the Edge, and thanks to a control pad convertor case that packs in analogue sticks and mechanical buttons, you'll be able to play any number of gamepad enabled PC games through Steam's Big Picture mode. HDMI-out also allows the tablet to be hooked up to a big screen HDTV.
Battery life is said to be comparable to other tablets, which should offers something between 8 to 10 hours of usage, with an option battery pack adding another two hours on top. A keyboard and dock add-on, expected to land later in the year, will allow the Edge to become a fully-fledged desktop replacement too, letting shooter fans add a mouse for pinpoint sharpshooting.
Sony Xperia Z
Sony had a really strong showing at this year's CES, and despite suffering a number of leaks, it couldn't dampen the enthusiasm and excitement its Xperia Z handset garnered.
The handset packs in a 5-inch full HD Reality Display, running at a full HD resolution of 1080 x 1920. Using Sony's Mobile Bravia Engine 2, it even employs some of the same technology that goes into Sony's TV sets too. The Xperia Z is also the first handset from Sony to use a quad-core processor, using a 1.5GHz variant backed up with 2GB of RAM.
Running Android Jelly Bean 4.1, the Xperia Z also sports a 13.1MP camera with 1080p video recording capabilities, with a 2.2MP front facing camera onboard too. All the usual conenctivity options are onboard too (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, A-GPS) as well as super-fast 4G data connectivity and NFC capabilities. 16GB of storage comes as standard which can be expanded via the microSD card slot.
Sony's handsets often look better on paper than they eventually prove to be, but with the Xperia Z everything's pointing towards them having a genuine winner on their hands.
Polaroid iM1836 Android
Said to be priced between £250 and £300, the Polaroid iM1836 looks to be a great deal if it can land in stores at its suggested price point.
The Polaroid iM1836 is an Android powered camera (running Jelly Bean 4.1) just like the Samsung Galaxy Camera, but one that also throws in interchangeable lens functionality. Shooting 18MP images, the camera comes with a 10-30mm kit lens, but will be compatible with all micro four thirds lenses with a mount adapter.
With both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built in, you'll quickly be able to upload super snaps directly to social networks using the iM1836's 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen. There's even full HD 1080p video recording onboard too.
Sounds great, right? But is it too good to be true? We'll have to wait and see, but at that relatively low price we'd be willing to take a chance on it!
Plastic Logic PaperTab
They've left the eReader market behind, but Plastic Logic still had new electronic paper developments to show at CES 2013, turning heads with their PaperTab concept.
PaperTab is a 10.7 inch flexible tablet that could well represent the future of regular wood-mush paper. A bendy, high-resolution display that's paper-thin, the PaperTab is powered by a Core i5 processor, and uses innovative gesture controls to navigate. For example, bending the display would turn a page in a book, a completed email could be sent by bending forward a corner of the sheet, while touching two PaperTabs together would let you share information between each device.
Intriguingly, the plan is to run a single app on each PaperTab, rather than swiping between multitasking apps as with a traditional tablet experience. Positional awareness of the PaperTab allows each sheet to know what's being shown on the other and display relevant information. The PaperTab would also know when it's within reaching distance of its user, displaying an overview of contained documents for instance when out of reach.
Sony 56-inch 4K OLED TV prototype
An "in development" 56-inch 4K OLED TV from Sony, this headlining set wiped the floor in terms of pure image quality with every other TV on show at CES 2013.
The first and largest 4K OLED TV in the world, Sony have used a new "Super Top Emission" technology to overcome the challenge of pushing light through larger OLED glass. It looked incredibly impressive according to experts in attendance, setting a new standard for OLED TVs (despite the fact that the technology is still yet to become available in western stores). Elsewhere, LG also impressed with a curved 4K screen that was said to offer an IMAX-like experience in the living room.
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