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The coolest tech of CES 2016

From retro revivals to futuristic concepts

The coolest tech of CES 2016
11 January 2016

You'd be forgiven for thinking the world of technology is full of empty promises.

Three different companies all made erroneous claims they had "invented a hoverboard" last year, while self-driving smart cars, fully connected homes and VR video games all seem to have been "coming soon" for the better part of this decade.

So how did this year's Consumer Electronics Show line up? Were the Las Vegas halls filled with tech we wouldn't be seeing for years to come, or did some truly world-changing gadgets finally get revealed?

From retro revivals to futuristic concepts, here are the coolest products shown off at this year's CES event.

Technics Grand Class SL-1200G

CES had a decidedly retro theme when it came to entertainment this year: in addition to a remade Super 8 camera (coming up), Panasonic's revived Technics brand revealed it would be bringing back the 1200G - the 'grand daddy' of vinyl turntables.

With vinyl sales soaring of late, the accompanying hardware has received a welcome high-tech update: the new 1200G is filled with precision sensors and a microprocessor control system. If it's anything like as rugged as the Technics decks of old, this could be playing records for the better part of the century. 

Kodak Super 8 camera

Yet more 'Analogue Renaissance' came from Kodak, who have added some nimble tricks to the beloved Super 8 camcorder.

In addition to reviving their old 8mm film line, the new hardware now packs a digital viewing window, HDMI output and the modern bonus of a digital copy of every film you send to Kodak to develop. 

With a price tag expected to fetch around £400, it's not a cheap throwback. Here's hoping it inspires the next Spielberg. 


While CES rarely pays witness to the launch of new smartphone models (they can be drowned out in the wider media storm of releases), it's filled to bursting with accessories that promise to make the most of our pocket powerhouses.

This new camera lens expansion kit from ExoLens and Zeiss was the pick of the bunch: a range of snap-on lenses that can enhance a mobile photographer's arsenal to include wide-angle, macro and telephoto options.

Is it going to replace a DSLR? No - but if you're off on holiday and want to cut down on bulk, it's the perfect travel companion.

LG's rollable OLED display

This one sits firmly in the "visions of the future you can't have right now" bracket.

LG make some of the best screens in the world - which is about as exciting as saying Apple make some lovely keyboards. But the South Korean company hinted at a bold future of portable tech with a demonstration of an 18-inch display that could be bent, flexed and even rolled up.

A high-quality 50-inch TV you can roll up and take round your mate's house for the football? A laptop you could stash in your bag without fear of a broken screen? A smartphone you can sit on without fear of breakages? It's coming people. LG said so.

Oculus Rift becomes more real than virtual

2016 is set to be the year that the fresh wave of virtual reality gadgets crashes on consumer shores - with one major player revealing its price tag.

The Facebook-owned Oculus Rift announced it was ready for pre-orders (before promptly selling out) to the tune of $599 in the US and £499 in the UK. Which is a lot, given that Oculus founder Palmer Luckey had estimated a "ballpark" figure of $350 (£240). 

The Oculus was never going to make-or-break VR: HTC's Vive is offering equally strong competition for PC owners, whilst Sony's PlayStation VR will be taking the battle to consoles.

If VR is going to take off, it needs as many people as possible to put one on their face and realise how remarkable it is - how it's unlike anything they've seen before (ShortList can attest). With the Oculus Rift sitting outside many people's price bracket, it's unlikely to be the first VR experience many have - but once they've had a taste from the likes of PlayStation, it could be the model they then turn to. 

Accessible education

Do you know how to program? Would you like to know how to program - in a manner more accessible than reading computer code and getting a headache?

One admirable solution revealed at CES was LEGO's new WeDo 2.0 - a 280-piece kit that can snap together to create a variety of robots, which can then be programmed in a simple fashion via an accompanying app.

No, it won't teach you how to build your own complex software solution - but it could well be the first introduction to programming that helps you (or, more likely, your kids) to get a grasp of how the increasingly smart world we live in actually works.

Lenovo Yoga 900S

Laptops are getting slim. Seriously slim. 

Samsung revealed its new Notebook 9 - a powerful laptop weighing less than 900 grams - while Lenovo's new Yoga 900S is 12.8mm thick (or rather, thin). 

While these slim trimmings won't make you write a Word document any quicker, it's an indication of just how nimble major hardware is becoming. This year is going to see size stats topple - to the point where they'll remain a certain thickness just to make sure they don't bend.

UA & HTC Health Box

Wearables have dominated CES conversations for several years now - but 2016 is set to see some offerings that will actually make a difference to your daily life.

Foremost was the 'Health Box' from HTC and Under Armour: a $400 (£275) box that includes a band, to be worn all the time for measuring sleep, resting heart rate and activity; a scale, that can measure body weight and body fat percentage; and a heart rate monitor, to give more accurate metrics on during moments of peak exercise. 

With one of these kits measuring your vitals, you'll be able to make a more meaningful fitness plan than seeing if you've completed enough steps or burnt enough calories. When do you sleep most effectively? Which cardio exercise is giving you the best results? What did you do differently when you lost that extra bit of weight last week? This box holds the analytical answers.

Parrot Disco

When they're not crashing into lakes or crowds of bystanders, personal drones look every inch the future of action photography. The only problem is that they crash into lakes and crowds of bystanders.

Parrot - creators of the hugely impressive Bebop - revealed their solution at CES: the Disco, a drone that's (almost) impossible to crash.

There are no complicated launch sequences: just chuck it in the air and the Disco will power itself up, gliding with unnerving stability with a mind of its own (thanks to onboard AI).

With one propeller, it's got more staying power than most small drones - with a maximum flight time of 45 minutes - and its wing design means it's capable of reaching speeds of 50mph. 

As drones get smarter and safer, they could become a more regular fixture of future sporting and live music events. 

VW Budd-e electric car

Eager to distance themselves from that awkward emissions scandal of 2015, Volkswagen put their latest electric concept on a fancy revolving podium and hoped everyone would be dazzled by the shiny lights.

The most promising aspect of the BUDD-e is its promised charge time: in just 15 minutes it would be able to charge itself to a staggering 80 per cent capacity - with a total drive range of 223 miles.

Set to arrive on roads by 2020, the future is very much electric.