The hottest new gadgets of 2020 (so far)
Exactly one decade ago, 4G was the hot new thing, TVs were ugly, and everyone's cell phones slid open.
Just imagine what the next ten years will bring. If we really live up to our innovational potential, it'll be a slew of technologies that'll successfully yank our planet away from the precarious edge it is teetering upon. You know, the one where we're about to plunge into irreversible climate disaster. A dark reality! Let's reign in the doom and gloom for a second though and focus on the now.
At the beginning of January, a huge consumer electronics trade show called CES is held in Las Vegas, where companies big and small reveal all the cool new stuff that they've been working on. Much of this stuff is nowhere near being ready to actually sell to actual consumers, because it's too outlandish or futuristic or high-concept or all of the above. Still, it's fun to look at.
Whereas much of the ready-for-market stuff comes across almost as boring in comparison, but in fact will make our lives more efficient in some neat way or another when it releases. These gadgets below, the most-notable of CES 2020 (according to us), veer into both territories—wacky and useful.
Here's a taste of what this year and years after will have to offer.
Mercedes-Benz VISION AVTR
There is no way in hell this machine will be hitting asphalt in 2020. It might never hit asphalt. Nevertheless, it is both insane and earth-friendly, so therefore important. To create the AVTR, Mercedes-Benz teamed up with James Cameron and the Avatar team, hence the name, to brainstorm just how a vehicle can become one with its environment without actually being a plant—and merge with its driver without any prerequisite tail connecting.
The answer is the advanced, conceptual technology of AVTR that Mercedes-Benz showcased at CES, ranging from autonomous driving (there's no steering wheel) and a wildly efficient electric battery to neurons that flow around the vehicle to sense passengers' energy. Sure! And the description of this car-ish vehicle keeps getting wilder. It can roll sideways like a crab on rotating wheels. The back is covered with mini solar panels. It recognizes its driver's breathing patterns. It does everything but fly.
We're going to have to reimagine how we imagine the future of transportation.
Samsung Sero TV
CES is always big on TV announcements, and especially worth noting is Samsung's new Sero TV, because its defining feature goes beyond LED and 4K and what have you. It seems so obvious: a TV that transitions from the horizontal plane to the, gasp, vertical plane. That's what Samsung is doing with The Sero, which means "vertical" in Korean.
This QLED TV, already available in South Korea and going global this year, flips so that longways it resembles a 43-inch phone screen. That means it's ideal for mirroring an Instagram or TikTok feed from your Galaxy phone, should you have one. What a trick. And here you hoped you’d be looking at your phone screen less in 2020.
LG Signature OLED TV R
One of LG's 2020 TVs transitions from horizontal to non-existent by rolling down into its base when it's not needed. LG debuted this OLED 4K HDR smart television at CES last year, and this year confirmed that the thing will go on sale in the U.S. sometime in 2020. And all you need is a rumored $60,000, according to CNET.
Yep, $60,000 for a 65-inch TV that blocks and then unblocks a view, epitomizing the phrase "less screen time" but still leaving you with a not-insignificant base to contend with. At least that screen is roll-tested to ensure the best quality (i.e. no breakage or dents) for years. Either way, when one CES TV flips and another disappears altogether, we know tech companies are getting funky with how we watch television.
Alienware Concept UFO
The selling point for this gaming gadget is simple: It's the Nintendo Switch of PC gaming, with detachable cons, a "bridge" to connect those two detached cons to make one big controller, an eight-inch display, and a kickstand to prop up the screen.
But most significantly, Alienware compares its power to that of a PC gaming device to support games that the Switch won't. Unfortunately though, it's just a concept with no concrete plans for production or rollout, so you're stuck with the Switch library or your phone for the time being.
Just when you'd thought you were paying for every streaming service available to mankind, another one pops up. As Quibi preps itself for an April 6 debut on smartphones, but not televisions, it gave a keynote address at CES to explain itself. The cliff notes version: It's a subscription-based service with original programming for phone viewing only.
For example, its movies could be segmented into 10-minute clips, or shows could have short-enough episodes to view easily on the go. Some of the content was shot in a way so that if you flip your phone while watching it, you'll get a different perspective. And Quibi has big-name actors signed on for mysterious projects, like Chrissy Teigen, Zac Efron, Idris Elba, and Steph Curry. If you're sold—or even just a tiny bit curious as to how this is different from Netflix—you can expect to pay $5 a month for Quibi with ads and $8 a month for Quibi sans ads.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold
Folding screens are so hot right now. They’re just not very practical, mainly because, as in the case with the Samsung Galaxy Fold, they feel as if a firm shake will shatter their screens. But there’s room to grow and improve, as exhibited by Lenovo’s new foldable PC laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Fold.
There are a lot of configurations in which to use it, and should you need a more traditional laptop set-up, it comes with a mini keyboard attachment that folds into the machine. The OLED display is 13.3 inches, the machine is 2.2 pounds, and the hinge in supposedly stress-tested. Lenovo plans to get it out mid-2020, starting at $2,499.
This DIY desktop PC is probably unlike one you've seen before, mainly because it's smaller than the big, honking, build-your-own PCs available now. Razer's new Tomahawk is modular, so you can pop parts into place—no tools required, so Razer says—with a powerful and very compact Intel computer and impressive graphics for gaming.
It's not meant to stress you out with too many wires or configurations if you don't happen to be a PC gaming whiz. Razer also emphasizes its portability, its upgrade potential, and its diminutive size (comparatively speaking), but doesn't yet mention a price or release date.
The Hydraloop is not particularly sexy, but neither is conserving water. It's just common sense at this point. This device—it's big, like a refrigerator—recycles and cleans about 85 percent of the water you use in your home, while its app keeps you updated on the recycling process and your total water usage. For showers, for dishes, for laundry, for the pool, whatever.
Pre-orders are open now, starting at $4,000. The upfront cost is significant, but your bills will probably go down and your house will be a model of efficient living, one all the neighbors can envy.