Often, most of the interesting play at CES is done by firms that aren’t directly participating in the show. That rang true again this year when Lenovo and Nvidia broke away from their peers by aggressively moving in different directions and demonstrating a depth of products largely unmatched in their segments.
Let’s talk about how these two vendors differentiated themselves from their peers at CES last week, and we’ll close with our product of the week, a new monitor from Acer that’s suddenly on top of the products I already own. I am craving this year.
Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo all came to play at CES this year, and each had some attention-grabbing prototypes on display. However, Lenovo had some of the most interesting products to hit the market, and several caught my eye as potential game-changers.
I’ll break these down by manufacturer.
What was a really interesting look from Acer was its Spatial Labs TrueGame technology, which was designed to provide realistic 3D upscaling for games typically played in 2D. I tried a similar technique from Nvidia about two decades ago. While depth of field was interesting, the objects in the game remained 2D, so it was like walking through a movie set where nothing had depth, and everything was a false front.
What Acer showed was full 3D rendering where objects were 3D, as well, giving games a depth you don’t see today.
Acer also teased an Orion X desktop that looked like it could be revolutionary (they didn’t provide any details) and two large-screen laptops (16″ and 18″) with 13th-generation Intel processors and AmLED displays. With running on 240-. Hz refresh rate, potentially making them impressive gaming and productivity laptops.
Dell’s most interesting product was also a prototype, but in this case, a prototype controller that could be used on planes to play PC games on your laptop. This has been a long term annoyance for me as I fly a lot, and I love the game as it makes hours go by like minutes, which is ideal for long trips if the tray table is big enough for a mouse, which it usually isn’t.
I’ve long felt that a game controller designed for PC games would fix this problem, but no one did. Luckily, Dell is looking to make one. Assuming the project gets the green light, it could significantly transform in-flight gaming.
The other thing Dell showed off was the Concept Luna, a significant evolution for its durable laptop. This breakthrough made it possible for a remotely located robot to reconfigure the Concept Luna device, such as in the middle of a Best Buy. Think of a giant robotic vending machine where you insert your laptop and credit card and watch as your device is optimized and upgraded with the latest graphics, processor, battery, case or screen.
This innovation will allow for indefinite upgrades of the laptop, keeping it out of landfill and ensuring that it is uniquely yours and always up-to-date, potentially avoiding premature obsolescence.
HP has been preloading Nvidia’s GeForce Now gaming platform on its consumer notebooks for some time (I’m noting this because I didn’t know HP was doing this), allowing laptops without discrete GPUs to run high-end games in the cloud. And allows to play PC games.
The company demonstrated prototype 3D-printed keyboard caps, which didn’t make much sense to me as the resulting keys would be awkward to use. Still, it held the promise of a possible future where this same technology could provide custom cases, laptop enhancements, and accessories limited only by your imagination.
HP also demonstrated the most aggressive use of recycled materials in its PCs and continues to lead the segment with active recycling and use of recycled materials.
It’s interesting to note that Dell’s and HP’s sustainability approaches will be interdependent and that both efforts would benefit from deeper collaboration between the two vendors. For example, HP can manufacture 3D-printed parts that Dell’s Concept Luna customization robot will use.
In the future, I expect HP’s true power to emerge once it figures out how to better integrate its 3D printing solutions that now include metal with its PC offerings. This is the first time I have seen that trend materialize.
Lenovo leaves me speechless with a number of products. While the most interesting showcases of its peers were prototypes where final products were not announced or may never materialize, Lenovo came into play with products that will be present in 2023.
The initial product that came across as potentially revolutionary was a laptop with twin screens. Unlike previous offerings that placed the second screen next to the first or a smaller screen next to the keyboard, this one placed the screens one on top of the other.
This design makes a lot of sense because when you’re on a plane with a laptop, you have limited width but very little limited height. By stacking the second screen on top of the first, you raise it to the perfect height for watching movies or playing games on an airplane.
Lenovo is the only PC OEM other than Apple that has a smartphone business, and it just announced a ThinkPad smartphone called the ThinkPhone that solves a problem in the industry since BlackBerry exited the phone business: Like the iPhone, the business A phone with better security, more durability and a more business-oriented appearance.
ThinkPad is as powerful a brand in the business space as Apple is in the consumer space, and I’ve been monitoring requests for phones like this from everyone from banks to governments. This year, Lenovo stepped out with a game-changer.
Finally, Lenovo announces an Android tablet. While we haven’t seen one of these in a while, Android is better positioned against iOS than Windows or Chrome OS, and the result is far more iPad-like.
AMD and Intel stayed close to their knitting, showcasing the latest advances in CPUs and graphics. Both firms have made solid progress but are so focused on each other that they’re missing the bigger picture, which Nvidia highlighted again with its keynote on Tuesday before the show.
Nvidia almost seems to be in a different class in that it demonstrated growing cradle-to-grave potential for anything built in the factories of the future that use AI.
For autonomous electric cars, Nvidia is involved in the conceptualization of vehicles, the design of factories, the design and programming of assembly robots, both the operation and entertainment components of the cars – and their ever more capable embedded brains.
In fact, and somewhat ironically, the firm is more involved in the future of the automotive market than the PC market.
Another tempting announcement was the licensing of their GeForce Now gaming platform by car makers like Polestar, who will be building it into future cars (back seat or parked only), though I wonder if anyone knows of a workaround and some How long will it take before Idiot Driver kills himself gaming instead of driving). Undoubtedly, this approach will become much safer once cars can drive themselves.
Nvidia demonstrated the gaming capabilities with its new graphics cards. What I found even more interesting, however, is how much of its GPU technology is now focused on making us better on Zoom calls, allowing us to use AI to draw like an artist, write like a seasoned writer, or virtually Can do to make the world. Tomorrow.
building the future
Nvidia has evolved from a GPU vendor to a solutions vendor. Next-generation car companies such as Foxconn (the firm that also makes most Apple products) are using Nvidia to break into the electric car market and outdo existing vendors who haven’t been aggressive with this technology.
The company’s work with Omniverse and Avatars promises to remake the TV and film industries, and its advances in robotic design, training and management will revolutionize manufacturing and automation.
In short, while its peers are building parts that fulfill others’ visions, Nvidia is increasingly building parts for the future that its CEO Jensen Huang is envisioning, potentially the company’s making it an ever more important part of our future.
The initial and most pre-CES announcements were huge, and as I write this, CES hasn’t even officially started. Next week I’ll be covering some of the more interesting products coming out of the show, like amazing automotive prototypes, flying cars, ever more intelligent devices, personal robots and robotic pets, 8K TVs, rollable displays, and a few things I can’t wait to see. Didn’t do it.
Until then, Lenovo and Nvidia set the bar as both companies really stepped up and got people thinking about them differently this year.
Acer Predator X45 OLED Gaming Monitor
For me, monitors can never be big enough or sharp enough. My current primary display is a 49″ monster from Dell designed for stock traders. It’s awesome, but it’s not meant for gaming and lacks the resolution and color range of a gaming monitor.
The Acer Predator X45 is a 45″ curved OLED gaming monitor with .01ms response time, up to 1000 nits of brightness, which makes it effectively viewable outdoor, and an amazing 1,500,000:1 contrast ratio – the advantage of OLED.
The Predator X45 sports a 45″ curved Ultra Wide Quad High Definition (3440×1440) OLED display. Image credit: Acer
Typically, OLEDs are not used for gaming but for creators or for simply enjoying entertainment, which means games often lack the brilliant colors that OLED can provide.
It will display 1,078 colors and has a 240Hz refresh rate, which is all lust-worthy. You can also mount it on the wall and it has two 5W speakers. Price has not been announced yet. I doubt it’ll be cheap, but if you want a monitor that will knock your socks off, the Acer Predator OLED X45 Gaming Monitor is worth your lust, so it’s my product of the week.