TalkAndroid Staff Picks: Best of CES 2013

I think we can all agree that mobile isn’t the focal point for the Consumer Electronics Show since it deals with all consumer electronics. Even so, there was still a lot of cool stuff announced, and the question is what’s the best of the best (for mobile)? We had new devices from Sony, Huawei, and ZTE as well as processors from Samsung, Qualcomm, and NVIDIA, not to mention other hardware like tablets, gaming controllers, gaming systems, and even Google TV.

Before we get into it, I want to thank my entire staff for the hard word this past week, especially our Editor, Roy Alugbue. I was the only one on the show floor and we managed to churn out 45 hands on videos along with a bunch of other announcements and stories. Roy kept the train moving, and our team delivered in a way that we’ve never done before. I am proud of everyone and already looking forward to next year. If you’ve missed any of our coverage, be sure to click here.

Now that the show floor is closed, it’s time for each of us to pick the cream of the crop so hit the break to find out.

Robert Nazarian – Editor In Chief

For me, the best of for CES has to not only be innovative, but it also has to show me that it will make a big future impact. My initial thinking narrowed it down to four choices: Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa, Samsung’s Youm flexible display, The Alliance For Wireless Power wireless charging demo, and NVIDIA’s Project Shield. First off, kudos to Samsung for making two out of four. I immediately removed the Exynos 5. Lets face it, the Exynos 5 is a pure beast so no one can take that away, but it you think about it, it won’t have much of an impact into the extended future. By this time next year, Samsung will be unveiling the Exynos 6 or whatever they will call their next great CPU. Although the Exynos 5 is a serious processor and something I am seriously looking forward to, it doesn’t make a long term impact.

That leaves the flexible display, wireless charging, and Project Shield. I have to give the nod to Samsung’s flexible display. It will make a serious impact for mobile devices for years to come. The bricks that we put in our pockets on a daily basis will be forever changed from this new technology, and in ways we still don’t understand. If you think about it, smartphones and tablets have evolved so much, but on the other hand, they are getting a little boring in that they continue to be a basic brick. Sure, displays and processors will continue to evolve, but flexible displays are really going to change mobile devices and how we use them.

I chose the Alliance for Wireless Power’s demo as my 2nd choice. Wireless charging isn’t new, but it’s something that hasn’t taken off. This alliance of key members from the tech community are about to bring a standard to wireless charging that will finally make it mainstream. Imagine sitting at a bar or restaurant and putting your phone down, and it automatically charges. Imagine getting in your car and simply resting your phone down on the console while it automatically charges. How about your nightstand, the coffee table, your kitchen counter, the possibilities are endless.

I went with Project Shield as my third choice. Again, a gaming system is nothing new, but I have been saying that mobile will takeover the console as choice. NVIDIA has created a product that is not only a gaming system, but it’s also a “mobile” gaming system with full controls. It can easily be mirrored to your television and you can stream PC games. You can already hook up your tablet or phone to your TV and utilize a wireless controller to have a console-like gaming experience, but Project Shield steps it up a notch by giving you a full mobile gaming experience away from your television and when utilizing it with your TV, the Shield’s display can act as a second screen to enhance gaming. I think it represents the future of gaming, and that’s why I picked it as contender for the best of the best. The only question will be pricing. They didn’t give us any word, but reading between the lines, I am confident they will price it right for success.

Roy Alugbue – Editor

The various announcements and launches of most items at CES was generally underwhelming to say the least— but Samsung certainly caught my eye with the introduction of yet an another innovative piece of technology. It is certainly no surprise that Sammy has made it a serious goal to ensure that its devices offer superior performance by developing its own in-house Exynos chips. While the Exynos dual and quad-core processors have each held their own compared to the competition, the new 5 Octa chip is single-handedly ushering in the next generation of super SoC units. It is not only one of the first chipsets that is based off of ARM’s Cortex A15 technology, it is the first 8-core processor to formally be announced for use in our Android devices. While we don’t know which Mali GPU will be featured or how fast the 8-core chips will be clocked at— we do know that the newly unveiled chipset is at least 2x faster than the fastest chips on the market right now. Considering Samsung certainly has a history of developing chips that rival or surpass its competitors– it’s not so far fetched to believe that claim.

It will be tough having to play the waiting game for now, but I certainly can’t wait to see the real-world performance of the new chipset in Sammy’s upcoming smartphones and tablets.

Jeff Causey – Author

My “best of…” from CES 2013 is the Youm flexible screen that was put on display by Samsung. There were lots of cool new gadgets on display at CES 2013 and Android seemed to be present everywhere. A lot of this is stuff that we have seen in the past – “connected” appliances in the home, smart TVs, some wearable computing devices. The openness and availability of the Android operating system makes it easier to incorporate into these different items, which may be why they seem to be closer to reality than ever before, albeit, probably still too expensive for general consumer adoption. CES 2013 also seemed to have lots of tablet news as manufacturers rush to get into that space and many phone manufacturers are now chasing the 5-inch, 1080p display bar for their smartphone devices. In a sense, it felt like CES 2013 was only a display of how Android is continuing to mature and enable some form factors that have been around for a while.

The Youm flexible screen seems to be different though. Other than some concepts in Samsung’s video revealing the technology, there were no devices that have already incorporated the technology. I expect that will change over time and in ways that have not yet been imagined. That is why I vote for the flexible screen as the best of CES 2013 – it is one technology that has the potential to bring about some major innovation, not just evolution, in electronics. It is the one item that I will be waiting and paying attention to see how it is adopted over the course of the next year.

Colton Kaiser – Author

Simply put, CES is a nerd’s haven. It’s only fitting that Android, the mobile operating system we’ve come to know and love, has managed to become an enormous part of it over the past few years. This year’s convention was no different. We saw hundreds of tablets from a slew of top-tier manufacturers, as well as a number of quality smartphones from the likes of Sony, Huawei and ZTE. And while we’re looking forward to getting our hands on these devices, none of them really had the “wow” factor needed to steal the show. Since we’re here to talk about the best product of CES 2013, none of those devices need apply. There’s only one product that can legitimately earn the title of “Best of CES 2013,” and that’s NVIDIA’s Project Shield. Its unique form factor, incredible gaming capabilities, top-notch specs and stock software make it the most well-rounded device of the show. There’s no question Android is becoming the go-to embedded OS, and the fact that it can be used to power niche concepts like a full-fledged gaming console is downright intriguing.

Rudy Rivapalacio – Author

There are a lot of great stuff my wallet and I are fired up about, but my choice for Best of CES 2013 is the thing that I’m most excited about: Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octa. Sure, it’s ‘just a processor’ and the device it’s built into will be a huge factor but… we’re talking eight effing cores and potentially twice the speed of current chips out there. I might be buying into the spec hype a little too much, but we’re in an arms race here, folks. I need to be absolutely certain of my iPhone-toting buddies’ complete annihilation when I pull out my Android beast from my pocket. I’ll give my runner up awards to a few other Android items I’m excited about: Vuzix M100Polaroid iM836 and the geek self-identifying I’m Watch.

Jared Peters – Author

Personally, I think Sony’s newly unveiled flagship, the Xperia Z, was the best device we’ve seen at CES this year. It’s not the absolute latest hardware, and it’s not the most revolutionary device, (although a water and dust proof flagship phone is unheard of) but it is the most ambitious device that we’re going to see in 2013. Sony is a company that’s in danger of falling too far behind its competitors, and the Xperia Z is the key to unlock that unified, desirable ecosystem that every OEM strives to make for consumers. From the NFC-enabled sharing of video and music to Sony televisions and sound systems, to the small details like the extremely durable power button, I think the Xperia Z showed a company paying attention to what’s important to consumers and giving them a device to suit their needs.


About the Author: Robert Nazarian

Robert lives in upstate New York where he was born and raised. Technology was always his passion. His first computer was a Radio Shack TRS80 Color that used a cassette tape to save programs, and his first laptop was a Toshiba T1200FB that sported a CGA greyscale screen and two 720kb floppy drives (no hardrive). From the early 90’s through late 2011, he only owned Motorola phones starting with the MircroTAC all the way through to the Droid X. He broke that streak when he bought the Galaxy Nexus. Now he's sporting a Galaxy Note 4, and absolutely loves it. He has a wonderful wife and a 6 year old son. In his free time he enjoys sports, movies, TV, working out, and trying to keep up with the rapid fast world of technology.