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CES 2015: A summary of this year's Consumer Electronics Show

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As a first-time attendee of CES I distinctly remember thinking on my flight over to Vegas: "What have I let myself in for?"

It turns out the answer was a week of no sleep, motivational videos designed to make you cry and more gadgets than I could shake a stick at. It doesn't matter what time it is in Vegas, there's always something going on, and with the show spread over three major areas across the city it's almost impossible to take everything in.


But here are the top trends I noticed during my week in Sin City:

People aren't interested in JUST data collection anymore

One of the biggest themes of the week was the concept that devices that collect data are no longer useful unless they are able to interpret it and make changes for the better.

At the show, Shawn G DuBravac, chief economist and senior director of research at the Consumer Electronics Association, discussed the need for a "feedback loop"  whereby the analog input method for digitisation and curation is then used to influence and change behaviour, feeding back to the original input method.

It was widely agreed across the conference that until this feedback loop occurs, digital and connected technology will not contribute towards a better and more convenient standard of living.

Everyone is focussed on making things "better"

CEA representatives were saying it, Samsung's CEO was saying it, the big boss at Intel was saying it - everyone agreed that the internet of things and other connected technologies could act as a gateway towards a better existence for human beings.

According to Samsung's keynote at the opening of the show, "better" means different things to different people, and the public said the technology of the future should "be faster", "save time" and "track efficiency".

And that's just everyday life - Intel spoke about how its RealSense technology can allow automated drones to more easily navigate on their own, allowing easier drop off of items such as medical supplies.

The firm also shared its plans for a more diverse workforce by launching its own Diversity in Technology initiative, aiming to improve not just technology but the industry itself.

The wearables market is as confused as ever

The last few years at CES has seen wearables move from a possible future concept into a full blown industry segment. The problem is, wearables still don't know what they want to be.

In the CES Marketplaces innovation hall technology booths were split into sections, which included Wearables, Health & Wellness, Fitness & Technology, Smart Watches and Sports Tech, all of which contained, amongst other things, wearables of some kind.

Some of the products could have landed in any of these categories, and the line between several of these segments is very thin.


With fashion designer Lauren Bowker claiming earlier this year that she doesn't like her scientific designs being referred to as wearable tech, it's clearly an industry that, although has many products already embedded into people's lifestyle, doesn't know where it's going.

I think wearables is a technology category becoming a bit too big for its boots, and it needs to decide where its loyalties lie - fitness, wellness or convenience.

3D printing is actually going somewhere

Last year 3D printing seemed like a gimmick that would never take off. Now it's a legitimate industry used for activities such as rapid prototyping, and many products surfaced at CES that could expand the opportunities of the 3D printing market.

Intel's plans to integrate Intel's Core i7 processors within HP's upcoming HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printer is a step towards fast printing for functional items such as chainlinks and other working parts for the engineering industry.

3D printing.jpg

A 3D printing pen that allows users to draw a functioning 3D object was also on display in the Marketplaces hall, as well as many smaller 3D printers for home use that could solve expensive outsourcing problems for wannabe engineers.

From a concept people scoffed at to a range of technologies with practical uses, the 3D printing industry has come along in leaps and bounds.

The Chinese market is booming

Once technology was only manufactured in China on behalf of other businesses, but now Chinese companies are huge, and producing products for both domestic and international markets.

From smartphones to smarthomes, China definitely had a huge presence at the show this year, and the trend doesn't look to slow down any time soon.


The internet of things and smarthomes are both the fastest growing and least developed segments

Everyone was talking about the current proliferation and development of the internet of things this year, including the smarthome and how connected devices can help to improve people's lives and save people time.

However much like wearables, some of these technologies still don't quite have the edge that's needed to make them as useful as they could be.

We discussed earlier technology must provide information that allows users to manipulate and improve their environment in order to fully prove its usefulness.


What was also highlighted by Samsung's CEO was the need for greater collaboration between different industry segments and regulators to ensure the internet of things is able to properly move forward and work seamlessly.

Looks like we have a lot to keep an eye on over the next year! 

CES 2015: The Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 with new AnyPen technology

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Lenovo launched its new affordable smartphone at CES this year, the A6000 smartphone available in the Indian market through exclusive online partner Flipkart.

What I found more interesting was the launch of its new AnyPen technology which, as the name suggests, allows you to use anything you want as a pen for the Yoga tablet 2.


The tablet itself is quite light, and has the Yoga-style battery across the bottom which allows for a nice comfy hand hold for when using vertically, and holds the kickstand for when using horizontally on a flat surface.

The Yoga 2 runs Windows 8.1 and has in Intel Atom Quad-Core processor to ensure speed. Its 8 inch display in in HD and the devices features front and rear cameras.

The AnyPen function proves very good for reaching small fiddley bits of the screen, especially for example when using the desktop function on Windows 8 where the icons can get quite small on the 8inch screen.

I tested the screen out using a fork and a pen-knife, which I was worried about at first until I was informed that the screen is scratch resistant.


There is one catch though, your chosen stylus must be conductive in order to work, so anything metal works a treat.

When using applications such as word can be fun with AnyPen, and your handwriting is converted into text-based words to allow you to review them ahead of inserting them into the document to ensure they are correct.

The tablet is currently available for a price tag of around $279, and stick on an extra $20 to use the AnyPen feature. 

FIRST LOOK: Motorola's Moto 360 smartwatch

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With Apple's big announcement approaching, there has been much speculation about whether the technology giant will be releasing its own smartwatch.

In the meantime, other innovators are speeding ahead with their version of the latest wearable trend, and Motorola is no exception.

The telecoms company, which was recently bought from Google by Chinese tech firm Lenovo, announced several new products last week, including its flagship Moto G and Moto X smartphone devices and of course, the Moto 360 smartwatch.


I had a chance to try out the gadget, and apart from the fact it was a little big, I have no complaints. The watch face is touchscreen, and responds to similar swiping commands to smartphone - up for unlocking, left and right for opening and dismissing.

The watch has a choice of several available watch-faces to mirror your mood and is powered by Google. This means the device is Google Now enabled, so you can ask it anything you want, from when historical events took place, to reminding you to pick up some flowers for your parrot.  


With a built in heart-rate monitor and pedometer for step counting, it also appeals to the health-conscious among us.

Although the device is quite chunky, the large face does make it more usable and easy to read. It comes in two models, with a starting price of £199 and is usable with Android operating systems 4.3 and up.

Specs at a glance:

Moto 306

  • OS: Android Wear
  • Dimensions: 46mm diameter by 11mm high, 49g
  • Battery: Full day use
  • Processor: TI OMAP™ 3
  • Memory: 4GB, 512MB RAM


The Moto 360 will be available from October this year, from O2, Tesco, Amazon and John Lewis. Check back to the Inspect-a-gadget soon for a full review.

Lenovo's answer to Google Glass - function over fashion?

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I wrote a story a little while ago about Beecham Research's survey on wearable tech. The study found consumers will not partake in wearable technology if it does not match their fashion needs as well as their functional requirements.

So when I saw these pictures of the Lenovo smartglasses prototype, my eye went straight to the necklace battery.


Photo: Lenovo

I couldn't help but wonder whether this addition would end up hindering the sales of the product in the future. This is a classic case of function - increased battery life - over fashion. And besides, wouldn't it get hot during use? If the PC maker is hoping to compete with Google Glass, it might have to try a little harder aesthetically.

Although Lenovo has been doing well in the PC market, it has recently been looking into ways to collaborate with other organisations to extend its market reach.

The glasses have been developed as part of Lenovo's New Business Development (NBD) initiative aiming to accelerate internet of things based Chinese startups. The smartglasses are one of three smart devices developed, including a router and an air purifier.

These products are aimed at the Chinese market, and run Chinese operating systems optimised for use with the internet in that particular region. 

MWC FIRST LOOK: Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+

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Over the last year the news has been filled with stories of Lenovo's success and it seems that they are slowly climbing their way to the top of the technology ladder.

The company even saw its smartphone sales increase by 102% over the course of 2013. So it's not surprising that during MWC, Lenovo has a whole new range of products to get excited about.

I focused on the new Lenovo Yoga table, since it will be available in the UK, and it was nice to take a look at something a bit different.


The tablet has a cylindrical battery running along one edge of the device, which not only provides up to 18 hours of battery life, but also acts as an extremely comfortable handle for holding when reading documents or books and taking pictures.

There is a kick-stand built in, which has been extended for flexibility of angles, allowing the device to stand upright when viewing content such as videos or presentations, but it folds away nicely when you're not using it, and doesn't get in the way when you want to pick up and hold the device.


The camera has been upgraded to an 8 megapixel camera, which takes pretty good photos and coupled with the battery/handle it's easier to take pictures than on traditionally shaped tablets.

Specs at a glance: 

Lenovo Yoga Tablet 10 HD+

    • Processor: Snapdragon 1.6GHz
    • Camera: 8MP Front Camera
    • Memory: 2GB
    • Storage: 32GB
    • OS: Android 4.3

The Bluetooth keyboard has been updated, and also functions as a cover for the tablet with a strengthened back plate that slides across the screen to protect it from damage and also to make it easier to carry both parts around in a bag. It also puts the tablet to sleep when you slide the cover on, which ensures that it doesn't get activated in your bag and saves battery.


The tablet and keyboard are also charged via micro USB as opposed to the previous proprietary charger, and the Yoga has a micro USB port with OTG capability, so it can be used to charge other devices when you're out and about.


They might not be market leaders in the tablet sector, but this device is stylish and has enough features to set it apart from other devices in the same vein. 

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Gadget Guide: Smartphones

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Computer Weekly's Gadget Guide on smartphones gives you a round up of all the latest smartphone news, previews, and reviews from Inspect-a-Gadget.

If you're researching the wide range of smartphones in the market head over to our guide for the low-down on the devices you just can't live your life without. 

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What I learnt at CES Las Vegas

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Spending a week in Sin City for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was surreal and exhausting. It never sleeps, and as a technology journalist in Las Vegas covering the biggest tech show of the year - neither do you.

So CES is over and now that I'm no longer jet lagged -proven by being able to make a cup of tea this morning, without adding coffee - I thought I'd piece together five lessons learnt from a week under the neon lights:

  1. Boundaries of the phabet are getting smaller and smaller. Phones are progressing to 6-inch screens, like the Huwaei Ascend Mate which was launched at the show. While tablets are also shrinking to 7-inches, where will the line be? I'm guessing we will find out at Mobile World Congress in February.
  2. Start-ups are way more interesting than the big players. Why spend hours queuing for the Samsung press event, which is basically just a glorified press release, when you can spend your time getting lost at the Eureka Park in the Venetian, chatting to start-ups? Much more interesting discovering something new and tangible than the massive big companies launching yet another degree of clarity for the television set.
  3. Massive SLR cameras and wheely bags should be banned from press scrums; unless you can remember you manners and not punch me in the face with your oversize camera, or PICK UP your tiny bag to avoid people tripping over it. Seriously, tripped over twice and my Welsh roots failed to help me rugby tackle journalists who thought that the possibility of breaking Lenovo's newest table pc two seconds before its major competitor was worth bruising me in the face for.
  4. Sparkly iPhone cases. This is consumerism at its highest. Almost blinded me as much as the gambling machines at the casinos, if I see another pink diamante piece of plastic, even this Disney Princess might throw up.
  5. Smoke and electric shocks. All that static built up from walking miles over carpeted floors has to discharge somewhere, when you open a door to a hotel you tend to get little shocks, which surprised me and soon got quite annoying. Also smoking isn't against the law in the city, combine that with the air con, jet lag and late nights and expect to have very uncomfortable eyeballs unable to withstand contact lenses. 
Well there you have it. Great week all around and CES, hopefully see you next year!

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CES 2013: Lenovo's multi-touch screen technology & Aura

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Lenovo's new 27-inch touch screen table PC, the Horizon, features a "smart hinge" which lets the device stand upright like a traditional PC, but also allows the screen to lay horizontal. When the screen is lying flat, Lenovo Aura automatically activates. This multi-touch interface allows multiple users to access information on the screen.

Its 10 finger multi-touch screen is marketed towards offices and families, allowing multiple users of the device. 

Here's a Lenovo rep demoing the 27-inch screen at its launch at CES in Las Vegas. 

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CES 2013: Lenovo product launches at CES: ThinkPad Helix hybrid device and a Mobile Touch Monitor

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Lenovo have been busy, along with the launch of a 27-inch multiuser table PC, the Horizon, the company also had a few more tricks up its sleeve at the CES Unveiled event in Las Vegas.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

Weighing less than a kilogram, this ThinkPad Helix is Lenovo's latest offering of a hybrid detachable tablet. Where the ThinkPad Twist, just well, twisted, the Helix is completely removable from its keyboard.


While completely removable, it is also reversable. The tablet can connect to the keyboard dock either in the traditional clam shell way, or appearing face up, so that the product can be used as a slate when the tablet is close onto the dock.



Available with a i3, i5 or i7 intel core processor, and up to 10 hours battery life (six in the tablet and four in the keyboard dock), this could become a great offering to the workplace. 

Less than a kilogram as a tablet, and 1.7kg as a full ultrabook device, the hybrid also claims to have Lenovo's best screen at full HD resolution and 11.6-inches.

Lenovo LT1423p Mobile Touch Monitor

Lenovo has launched a mobile touch external monitor which will work with any Windows 8 device. There are two models, a wireless and a non-wireless monitor.


The non-wireless device weighs 1.6kg, whereas the wireless device weighs 2.4 kg and has 4 hours of battery life.

Both monitors feature a 1600 x 900 13.3-inch resolution display, protected with Gorilla Glass.  

The monitor mirrors whatever computing device it is connected to, which enables 10 finger touchscreen capabilities to non-touchscreen devices. 

The products will cost $449 for the wireless option (available in June) and $349 for the wired (available now), both will come with a snap on case which allow converts into a stand. 


Small updates, big difference

Lenovo has also updated its U and Z series ultrabooks to include touch functionalities, while the Yoga 11S is now running an intel core and full Windows 8, rather than the RT version. 

Keep checking Inspect-a-Gadget for hands-on experiences at CES with these devices.

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CES 2013: "Honey I blew up the PC" - Lenovo launches 27-inch Horizon Table PC

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While some hardware companies are shrinking tablets from 10 to 7-inches, some on the other hand are blowing up computing hardware to become all-in-one devices at the 20-inch plus range.

Larger than Sony's 20-inch Vaio Tap 20, Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC stands at a staggering 27-inches, and was showcased this evening at the CES Unveiled event in Las Vegas.


Dubbed as a "table PC", this is the company's first multi-user PC, thanks to the ten finger input which allows two hands to operate the device at the same time - very Minority Report.


The "table PC" uses Windows 8's touch functionality, with a full HD 27-inch screen and an Intel Core i7 processor.

The Horizon also comes with its very own Lenovo App Shop, which is powered by Intel AppUp, with 5,000 entertainment apps available at present.

At a weighty 8Kkg, I found it very difficult to pick up, and like Sony's Vaio Tap 20 weighing 5kg, I was terrified of dropping it, so couldn't imagine picking it up to take from room to room regularly. But it really is a beautiful piece of hardware that could be used for project planning and presentations in an office environment.



Horizon also has a "smart hinge", which lets the device stand upright like a traditional PC, but when laying it flat, Lenovo Aura automatically activates. This multi-touch interface allows multiple users to access information on the screen.

You can also purchase a mount, which is in fact a height adjustable table, allowing groups of people to gather around and interact with the device at various angles. Lenovo also showed off its attractiveness to gamers by demonstrating a game of air hockey at CES, complete with touch-sensitive pucks. Strangely, with the back drop of Las Vegas, I didn't get to see a game of Roulette on the Horizon, as e-dice are available to do so.



The device will be available in Europe and the US in the summer at an estimated price of between $1,500 - $1,600.

If 27-inches wasn't enough, Lenovo has also demonstrated an early concept 39-inch "table PC" named Gamma, showing that the company are thinking the future is bigger and better.

"We've seen technology shifts across the four screens, from the desktop to the laptop, tablet and smartphone, and yet, while people have more computing power than ever before, there is still room for technologies like Horizon that bring people together. Horizon makes personal computing interpersonal computing with shared, collaborative experiences among several people," said Peter Hortensius, president, Product Group, Lenovo.



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