Another Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and my peers at EE Times have done an as-usual stellar job of identifying and analyzing the big-picture technology trends represented there. I thought I'd instead devote this particular writeup to specific products , and not the predictable ones, mind you; electrified and autonomous cars, ever-bigger and -cheaper TVs, and drones and VR headsets everywhere.
Instead, I'm going to focus on the unexpected head-scratchers I saw and heard about. Some of them generated enthusiasm in me, others were just so-so, and some just made me laugh (and not in a good-for-them way, either). But they all made an impression of some sort. Sound off with your thoughts in the comments!
- Let the music do the talking
- Who’s the fairest of them all?
- The clothes make the (wo)man
- I’d rather have a bottle In front of me …
- Paranoia may destroy ya
- What’s that smell?
- The silly and not so silly
Let the music do the talking
LG scored an audio odd-product trifecta this year. Most memorable is the Bluetooth-connected Levitating Portable Speaker, which hovers over its (subwoofer-equipped) Levitation Station companion by means of symmetrical electromagnetic repulsion. When its built-in batteries run low, it automatically lowers itself to the base for recharging. It's a clever idea for differentiation in the increasingly commoditized Bluetooth speaker market.
More annoying are the company's Tone Studio neck speakers. They come with optional earbuds, but that's not the fundamental point … as with the massive jamboxes of days past, it's to “share” whatever you're listening to with everyone around you … whether they want to hear it or not. As I type this, I'm having flashbacks to a recent airplane flight when a sullen teenager blasted rap from his tablet the entire time, and neither crew nor fellow passengers had the guts to tell him to put some headphones on or otherwise cut it out. And as I type this, I also realize that I might be sounding like a crotchety old-timer. C'est la vie.
Most annoying of all (IMHO) is the company's new “4K High Resolution” SJ9 soundbar. I think most of you will agree with me that soundbars are known for convenience, not for audio quality. And you may also already be familiar with the term “4K” as applied to ultra-high definition TVs and other displays. LG apparently felt it would be a good idea to leverage “4K” in a completely unrelated product category … by multiplying 24-bit by 96 kHz by 1 channels (=4,608,000) … and then lopping off the trailing three zeroes.