Who stole the Las Vegas show? Who landed in Sin City looking for fame but ended up spending thousands of bucks on travel and accommodation only to realize they didn’t belong to one of the world’s biggest, glitziest tech trade shows in the first place? Who disappointed the most? And who came hat in hand, ultimately stealing everyone else’s thunder?
CES 2014 may not technically be over yet, but since no product announcements are in store for the expo’s final two days, it’s time to see which of the exhibitors graduated magna cum laude and who’s likely to end up in jail. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the CES 2014 awards, as voted by… me, myself and I:
Most likely to succeed: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Sure, everybody knew it was coming. Heck, the spec sheet in full was as transparent as glass since before winter started. So was the CES announcement pointless? Maybe a little. But in the end, what matters is this thing is spectacular, groundbreaking and, if priced correctly, a huge box-office hit in the making. Period.
Most likely to fail: Lenovo ThinkVision 28, Samsung Galaxy Camera 2
The ThinkVision 28 Android-based 4K monitor (what a load of crap) is not just likely to fail, it’s likely to never, ever, ever be bought by anyone. I mean, for crying out loud, why would you spend north of a grand on a bs monitor in 2014? Get an HD TV for that dough. A tablet. Two tablets. A tablet and a smartphone. Literally anything else the tech world has to offer.
As for the Galaxy Camera 2, kudos to Samsung for having the decency to not actually bring it on the CES announcement stage, unveiling it a little earlier. One trainwreck was more than enough for the night.
Prom queen: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2
It narrowly missed out the “most likely to succeed” honor to the Z1 Compact, so instead of snubbing it completely, I decided to give Sammy’s biggest, coolest, proudest tablet to date a possibly even shinier trophy.
The thing is it may not succeed after all. But on paper, it looks exquisite, with a gigantic, vibrant display, all the oomph you could ever need, smoother software than ever and S Pen productivity. If only it wasn’t so damn expensive.
Class clown: Acer Liquid Z5
I said it all when rounding up the pre-show launches. Acer meant well, but failed miserably, with a crappy 2010-reminiscent jumbo-sized slab that simply should have never existed. Not in 2010, not now.
Most likely to get by on looks: Toshiba Chromebook, Asus Zenfone line
It’s not running Android, but it might as well, since Chrome OS is essentially a less functional, but cleaner Android fork. However, what makes the Toshiba Chromebook really stand out is its incredible aesthetic semblance with Apple MacBooks.
Lawsuit pending? Maybe, but all’s fair in love, war and tech, and until they’ll be forced to pay Cupertino damages, the creators of this fresh Chromebook are to make quite the handsome profits. Granted, the margins can’t be huge on a $280 laptop, but make no mistake, there’s a very solid market for low-cost “iClones”.
Meanwhile, the Asus Zenfones are not handsome in a conventional way, but they’re colorful, playful, cute… and cheap. So frigging cheap! Way to shift your attention to not hybrid smartphones, guys!
The “don’t call it that way” award: ZTE Iconic Phablet
Rarely have I ever got the sudden urge to punch an Android OEM in the face (hypothetically speaking) like when ZTE took the wraps off the “Iconic” Phablet. That’s the single most idiotic name a company has given an underwhelming gizmo since, what do you know, ZTE again introduced the Geek. Are these guys for real or are they the world’s biggest attention whoring trolls?
Because if it’s the latter, then they might be incredibly smart after all. Think about it, ZTE had a fairly modest CES 2014 showing, and taking for granted the “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” saying, they needed something to get people talking. Mostly swearing, snarking and ridiculing, but talking nevertheless.
The “if only looks wouldn’t matter” award: Neptune Pine
An independently working smartwatch with hardware from this millennium, a full version of Android, nice cameras and sizable battery? I’ll take a dozen. Not so fast. Because the Neptune Pine, while a tremendous idea in theory, is gigantic, bulky and overpriced. You’d probably be better off just slapping a Galaxy S2 or something on your wrist. It’ll make you look equally as crazy and douchey.
Okay, we’ve officially been waiting for this Western invasion of Chinese brands for, what, a decade, century, and with each passing year, it looks less and less likely of ever happening. I mean, both Meizu and Huawei (plus ZTE) visited Las Vegas for CES 2014, but did it more to cross another item off their bucket lists or something.
Meizu showcased the quirky-yet-beautiful MX3, announcing it’ll roll out stateside in… Q3 (?!?), whereas Huawei was an even bigger disappointment, presenting the Ascend Mate 2 with a 6.1-inch 720p panel and mediocre 1.6 GHz Snapdragon SoC. Good thing it can charge other phones and offers 4G LTE support herp a derp.
Alright, dear readers, now it’s your turn. How would you describe CES 2014 in one word? What devices are your own personal standouts and why? We’re all ears.