Samsung debuted a new line of sharing-focued, Smart cameras at CES. Samsung’s other, more trendy announcements – such as the connected home and kitchen – mean that this one has flown under the radar a little bit. Nonetheless, Samsung is trying its best to elevate point-and-shoot cameras to the same level as smartphones by incorporating WiFi and NFC for pairing with smartphones and social networks. As well, the selling points include higher zoom – up to 12x – and higher quality than smartphones can offer, at 16MP images as a bare minimum. The higher end models come with HDMI and SD slots, as do most high-end cameras, but the lower-end cameras feature Micro SDs and weigh in at just a third of a pound. Whether the point-and-shoot era has past us by with smartphones quite capable of taking over that role remains to be seen, but CES is the best possible venue for Samsung to make the case for consumers to continue to invest in light, portable, sharable cameras.
Makerbot unveiled its Replicator Mini and Z18, its respectively smallest and largest 3D printers to date. Both are consumer-facing and ready for market. Having firmly established itself as a the brand-to-know in the rapidly expanding 3D printing arena, it has sold over 44,000 universe, and over 48 million digital designs have been downloaded on its Thingiverse. The new devices aim to expand both of those figures. The Replicator Mini is a small, cheap device that Makerbot CEO Bre Pettis calls the “point-and-shoot” model for the Makerbot family, designed for one-touch, plug-and-play functionality with an app store – in other words, an easy to use, cheap, consumer facing baseline at $1,375. On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Z18, the biggest unit to date that’s capable of producing 12″ x 12″ x 18″ printouts (Makerbot showcased a full-sized stormtrooper helmet at CES). It will be available in the spring of 2014, for $6,499. Both devices are a sure sign that 3D printing is here at least for the forseeable future, and that Makerbot is pushing as hard as it can to make 3D printing a conventional consumer product.
Not to be outdone by Dish’s Hopper and SuperJoey, TiVo announced a new, cloud-based network digital video recorder at CES. The company is known for their range of DVRs, and the new Network DVR Cloud prototype aims to bring the efficiency of the original DVR to the cloud-based content that consumers are becoming accustomed to. Whereas with a traditional DVR Media content is typically stored in a subscriber’s set-top box hard drive, the NDVR stores media content in the service provider’s servers – the cloud. It also means that viewers can share content in the cloud to other authorized users, set up co-viewing experiences through social networks, as well as recommendations via cloud-based libraries. In short, keeping the content in the cloud, rather than on a hard drive, allows the data to be much more social and flexible.
At the same time, TiVo plans to let operators and programmers manage content rights, create multiscreen policies and various tiers of network personal video recording features, so it seems like the move will seek to benefit both producers and consumers alike.
Amongst the announcements by the goliath tech companies came the release of the Pebble Steel. Arguably the pioneer of the second generation of smartwatches, Pebble was preordered over 275,000 times ahead of its Best Buy debut this summer. The one facet of smartwatches that has failed to translate, however, is the higher end; it has been difficult to convince those who are used to higher end wristwear to purchase a smartwatch (which, debatably, is one of the main markets holding the technology back). The Pebble Steel, however, aims to change all that. With a matte stainless steel construction, a sleeker profile, and a smoother operating system with more processor power, the Steel has the look and feel of a high end product. It’s also at the price point to match: $249 per watch puts it firmly out of reach of the average consumer.
What’s more, there’s a brand-new app store arriving at the end of January, when the watch hits stores. At $100 more than the present offering, the Steel definitely brings wearable tech to the higher end price point, while, at least on first impression, bringing the looks to match.