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CES 2017 Day Two (Spotlight on BMW, DJI, GoPro, Sony, Huawei)

By: Mithrandiel

Miss my coverage of Day One? Check it out here.

CES 2017 marches steadily on into day 2! After a brief sweep of the show floor last night, I was excited to have a full day to take in as much as I could.

BMW

The first thing that caught my eye was BMW’s building outside of the South Hall.

As our technology gets smarter, cars are at the head of the curve when it comes to new technology enhancing the driver’s experience. Inside BMW’s booth was an intriguing prototype of a car that featured greenery, a blanket…even a bookshelf.

This luxuriously large vehicle combines the natural with next-level technology. A hololens-inspired dashboard near the steering wheel utilizes a highly sensitive camera to read your keystrokes. Advanced AI and self-driving technology allow you to enjoy the car as an extension of your home – an airy room that can be used to unwind, read/relax while your car transports you to the right destination.

In their efforts to steadily improve the self-driving experience, BMW had a large monitor on display showing vehicles collecting street data and feeding it back to servers. While some self-driving cars may reference Google Maps or other services that get updated once a year (maybe), BMW’s self driving system would be based on a constantly updating database, pooling information from multiple vehicles across any given city at all times. The result will be a smoother, more reliable drive, even when you aren’t in control.

 

I was going to give the futuristic i8 a test-drive, but the line was long, and I had other things on my agenda. As a consolation prize, take a look at this thing!

 

Welcome to…the future.

 

As usual, BMW gives us an intriguing glimpse into the cars of tomorrow, but the design and concept seems just a little too far away. Technology that’s either available now or will be in the next year is what really gets me pumped up, which takes me to the next booth.

DJI

For a market that sprung up just a few short years ago as a hobby, the drone market has grown ridiculously fast. With a stunning 224% year-over-year growth in 2016, hobbyists, videographers and photographers have all converged upon this new technology as a game-changer. DJI, which owns the lions share of drone sales globally, was certainly reflective of that demand at their booth today.

There are three drones that DJI has been busy showing off today: the sleek and powerful Mavic, the industrious and powerful Inspire 2, and their latest iteration of the Phantom – the Phantom 4 Pro +.

Though a handful of Mavics made it out before holiday, the smaller drone is still in high demand, and DJI is doing their best to help their supply catch up in response. The inspire 2 carries a hefty pricetag: at $6200 for drone and camera, it’s one of the priciest on the market. Not surprisingly, it also offers cinema-quality video capture and top-notch flight control. Finally, the latest Phantom 4 looks to hit a sweet price point just above the Mavic without the bank-busting cost of the Inspire.

DJI’s presence confirms that the industry continues to grow and evolve, and the company still commands a devastating advantage within this nascent market. A unique caveat that not many other companies face: government agencies like the Federal Aviation Agency have to closely monitor and regulate drones as new issues of legality and liability come to light. Though many view the FAA as the drone industry’s natural enemy, just today they put out the following tweet:

I will be very interested to see how the drone industry continues to evolve and grow in the coming years. Speaking of products growing and evolving – onto the next booth!

GoPro

Since the arrival of the first GoPro camera back in 2004, the camera company owned and operated by Nick Woodman has grown into one of the most recognizable brands on earth. Providing a high-quality camera that is also extremely weather resistant, durable, and most importantly, affordable, GoPro has received criticism in recent years for the journey that customers had once they captured that amazing video. Exporting, sharing, and creating were all opportunities that GoPro had in its native software, and the company is responding to this feedback with two new apps: “Quik” and “Capture”.

These two new apps, available now, enhance the overall experience for users who use GoPro to capture and share their favorite moments. “Capture”  allow GoPro users to manipulate their camera settings from their phone without having to tinker with a camera that may be out of reach, while “Quik” provides  simple to use movie-editing software that can then be exported and shared via social media.

Reps also discussed the Hero 5 and Hero 5 session, their latest flagship cameras. With native waterproofing (no more special cases needed), and significantly better stabilization at lower resolutions, the Hero 5 offers some appealing upgrades for the GoPro fan.

Despite the increasing popularity of drones, GoPro’s (particularly older models that continue to see price cuts as new models come out) are a fantastic deal for people looking to capture more of their adventures on a high-quality camera.

Sony

Sony’s massive presence on the CES show floor was no surprise – but what I found inside did throw me for a bit of a loop.

First, they were showcasing their new noise-canceling headphones. With a unique setup within a makeshift plane (complete with the sound of engines jettisoning your metal pressurized tube at 450 miles an hour while 35,000 feet from the ground), visitors enjoyed some smooth tunes and gleefully blocked out the outside world.

The headphones, Sony’s MDR-1000X model, has two levels of noise cancellation. One completely blocks out all ambient noise, while another offers a slightly tweaked mode that allows you to hear people talking to you (Question: why? I put on noise cancelling headphones to avoid this very scenario). Still, the headphones offered crisp sound and effective noise cancellation, certainly giving the Bose QC35’s a run for their money.

What really intrigued me was Sony’s new Walkman. That’s right – the Sony Walkman is making a comeback…

 

The new Walkman has two models, the A1 and Z1. The A1 is a hi-res music player built from a single block of aluminum, hollowed out and constructed at every step to elevate the experience of listening to your music. While some might balk at the thought of going back to a dedicated MP3/music player in the age of smartphones, at ~$225 it can offer audiophiles a fantastic alternative to chewing up precious space on their smartphones with the necessarily large music files needed to preserve quality sound. They look and feel great.

My final stop was taking a seat at the dry bar within the sony booth where reps demonstrated the “Signature Series”, a high-end personal sound system that rings up at a stunning $8,000.

The signature series

While you may not be spending $8,000 on a personal sound system, the quality in the design and build of these high-ticket items is Sony’s way of reminding people that they were the go-to company for most consumers music needs not too long ago. As MP3 players evolved and CDs died a horrible death, Sony seemingly faded into the background, but their showing at CES 2017 seems to indicate they’re interested in getting back into the music game. Time will tell how successful they are.

Huawei

While Apple’s iPhone has performed remarkably well in the nearly 10 years since its arrival, their strength in the Chinese market is always hindered by the popularity of Huawei’s affordable, yet powerful, phones.

Huawei had their latest flagship phone, the Mate 9, on display alongside their wearable Huawei Fit. Featuring a 20 MP camera from Leica, 64 GB of storage (with a separate microSD storage slot) and a powerful Octa-core processor, the hardware is certainly packing a punch. The wearable tracks standard activity tracking data including steps and sleep while also boasting a continuous heart-rate monitor sensor.

 

 

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