Vegan SUVs and roll-up TVs: The CES announcements you need to know about

7 Jan 2020

Image: Fisker

We round up some of the highlights from day one of CES 2020, including a $500 5G-compatible smartphone, an Alienware handheld gaming PC that resembles the Nintendo Switch, and a $60,000 roll-up TV.

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is currently underway in Las Vegas, with more than 4,400 companies, manufacturers, developers and suppliers exhibiting the latest tech products and services at the event.

Over the course of the event, there will be more than 250 conference sessions and more than 170,000 attendees are expected to attend.

Thousands of products we now recognise as milestones in consumer electronics were first showcased at the annual event, from the videocassette recorder (VCR) in 1970 to Microsoft’s Xbox in 2001.

Today (7 January), marks the first day of CES 2020 and already there have been a number of major announcements. Ahead of the main event, there were details unveiled about Samsung’s robot Ballie and its new vertical TVs, as well as Sony’s surprise autonomous vehicle reveal.

Here, we have gathered some of the most exciting announcements from the conference so far.

Roland’s Go:Livecast

The Roland Go:Livecast. Image: Roland

One of the most interesting gadgets announced at CES 2020 is Roland’s new ‘plug and play’ mini studio for smartphone vloggers, which the company has named the Go:Livecast. This piece of tech aims to turn the average smartphone into a mini broadcast studio, giving content creators more control over live video production.

Whether this turns into a massive hit among vloggers, or ends up being one of the first technology flops of the 2020s, it is an interesting concept, particularly when livestreaming has become such a huge market.

A livestreamer touching the Roland device as it sits on a desk beside makeup brushes.

The Roland Go:Livecast. Image: Roland

The hardware allows vloggers to adjust volume, insert pre-recorded clips into livestreams and access other features, in an interface that is kept relatively simple to make sure it’s accessible to as many people as possible. The device comes with a companion app, which gives content creators even more control.

The Go:Livecast is set to release at the end of January, with a retail price of around $250.

A miniature fire engine

While Sony revealed an autonomous car concept, Panasonic showcased a miniature, battery-powered prototype fire engine.

A small, one-seater red firetruck in a conference room.

Panasonic’s new firetruck. Image: Panasonic/PA Media

The electronics company developed the fire engine in collaboration with Tropos Motors, an electric vehicle company that wanted to create a cart-sized vehicle that can transport the same level of equipment as a full-sized fire engine, at a fraction of the cost and using less energy.

Panasonic also argued that the reduced size of the truck means that it can respond to emergencies in a new way, because of its ability to fit into small spaces that would have been previously inaccessible to a regular old fire truck.

An AI-powered sun visor

Bosch, meanwhile, unveiled a new smart car sun visor that uses face-tracking to darken parts of an LCD panel to protect a driver’s eyes, without obstructing their view of the road.

A woman driving in a car with a shadow on her eyes, which has been projected by a visor.

The Bosch Virtual Visor. Image: Bosch

Dr Steffen Berns, president of Bosch Car Multimedia, said: “For most drivers around the world, the visor component as we know it is not enough to avoid hazardous sun glare – especially at dawn and dusk when the sun can greatly decrease driver’s vision.

“Some of the simplest innovations make the greatest impact, and Virtual Visor changes the way drivers see the road.” The visor was named as an honouree at the CES Best of Innovation awards in the in-vehicle and safety category.

A vegan, electric SUV

In recent months, we saw one of the largest electric vehicle announcements to date: the disastrous unveiling of Tesla’s Cybertruck, a vehicle that Elon Musk suggested was bulletproof before encouraging a Tesla employee to hit the windows, which led to some unplanned smashes.

A grey SUV parked on concrete beside palm trees.

The Fisker Ocean. Image: Fisker

Despite the cringe factor of the announcement, it marked a change in the electric vehicle market, with Tesla now taking orders for a $39,900 electric SUV with a range of up to 500 miles. Now, CES 2020 has seen the latest electric SUV announcement, with Henrik Fisker debuting a $37,500 electric SUV with a solar roof and 300 miles of range.

This new car, entitled the Fisker Ocean, will be on the road between late 2021 and early 2022. The company also announced a performance version of the Ocean that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 2.9 seconds. The company plans to develop two other models that will use this car’s technological platform. The company also said that the interior will be 100pc vegan, with 100pc reinforced rayon backing.

Advances in Bluetooth

CES 2020 has already seen Bluetooth SIG, the industry group overseeing Bluetooth standards, introduce new features that will immensely change Bluetooth in the coming years.

One of the announcements made was that Bluetooth SIG plans to finalise new support for Bluetooth LE audio, introducing new features such as higher-quality audio, hearing aid support, broadcasting to many people and an improved experience with wireless earphones.

The broadcasting feature could potentially enable headphone users to have movie audio played directly to them, whether on an airplane or in a cinema. It also works for hearing aid users.

It was also announced that Low Complexity Communication Codec (LC3) will simultaneously reduce power consumption while improving audio quality, but the effects of this won’t be seen by most until next year.

A $500 5G smartphone

There have been lots of smartphone announcements at CES already, with Samsung announcing the Galaxy S10 Lite and the Note 10 Lite, but perhaps the biggest announcement by far has been TCL’s new 5G device.

The TCL 10 5G features a Snapdragon 700 series processor, four rear cameras and a hole-punch display. And, as the phone’s name suggests, it supports 5G connectivity.

With a price tag of $500, TCL’s new phone would have a unique offering since all other 5G phones up until this point have cost upwards of $1,000.

Even if this phone doesn’t take off and make TCL one of the biggest names in the smartphone industry, it’s certainly going to be a wake-up call for competitors charging significantly more for 5G connectivity.

Roll-up televisions

With 8K television technology taking centre stage this year, CES has seen a number of interesting announcements already. One of these is LG’s new roll-up TV, which may come with a price tag of up to $60,000.

The 65-inch 4K OLED television is expected to ship by the end of the year, and has been designed for people who want to hide their television with the push of a button, whenever they feel like it. The display slides into the TV’s base when it’s not in use, but without sacrificing the television’s 4K resolution.

According to Cnet, the television has been tested for 50,000 rolls, which amounts to around 68 years’ worth of sliding it up and down once a day. You can watch it in action here.

Foldable laptops

This year, Dell brought two new prototype laptops to the Las Vegas electronics conference, one of which is the dual-screen Concept Duet, a device resembling Microsoft’s Surface Neo that is expected to go on sale by the end of the year.

With a second screen replacing the side of the laptop traditionally occupied by a keyboard, the Concept Duet’s secondary screen can be used for typing, drawing or doing basically anything else you do with a tablet.

Its second device, the Concept Ori – short for ‘origami’ – is a seamless foldable screen with a discrete hinge, which is still in the early stages of development. You can watch a video demonstration of both of these devices here.

The Ori is representative of the bounds of progress made in foldable screens over the last few years, and looks like a competitor for another big announcement at CES 2020: Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold.

A foldable tablet and a stylus.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold. Image: Lenovo.

Working with the ThinkPad technology that the company acquired from IBM 15 years ago, Lenovo has created a laptop with a flexible display, rather than a hinge. Expected to ship in mid-2020, this laptop starts at $2,599, running Windows OS.

Alienware’s handheld gaming PC

Another interesting PC reveal from CES 2020 is Alienware’s latest gaming prototype. Alienware, which is best known for its gaming laptops and preconfigured desktop PCs, announced the Concept UFO, which is a full Windows 10 gaming PC, shrunken into a handheld device. And, it looks alarmingly similar to the Nintendo Switch.

It’s likely that this device could fill the gaps that gamers see in the Nintendo Switch games catalogue, where many large AAA games are excluded from the platform. However, Nintendo could be preparing to solve this problem itself with two new Switch models rumoured for later this year.

The Verge ran through all of the details announced at CES about the Alienware Concept UFO, in a video you can watch here.

More laptop and computer announcements

As well as its tennis ball-sized Robot, Samsung impressed attendees with its new $999 (yes, seriously) Chromebook, which features a 4K AMOLED screen.

The hardware has been commended by most critics who have gotten their hands on the device, but not everyone is impressed with the price tag, which may signal an end to the Chromebook’s days of serving as an affordable computer bought for classrooms.

This device is set to launch in Q1 2020, with the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook featuring up to 16GB of memory and a 10th-gen Intel Core i5 processor.

As well as its foldable device mentioned above, Lenovo also revealed the latest in its gaming-centric Legion series. The Legion Y740S was announced with a new external graphics dock, which makes it Lenovo’s lightest and thinnest gaming laptop, with a battery life of up to eight hours.

If you’re on the market for a laptop in 2020, you can read more about some of the biggest laptop announcements from CES 2020 here.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic