Whether it is what's next for the home, the car or a whole other world you wear on your face,CES is the place to see brand-new ideas take flight (or nose dive). The best new products this year soar by better understanding what we want and delivering it to us - whether that's via fitness trackers that double as smartwatches, automated home lighting or heads-up displays that merge virtual and augmented reality.
This year's CES was equally about taking already great products to the next level of performance by refining and beefing up the technologies that drive them. 4K TVs have more and better color, wearables have more sensors and headphones and speakers pump out stronger sound without wires. But any company can add the latest chip to a product. Our Top Pick Award winners use cutting-edge tech to make our lives easier, healthier, safer and more entertaining.
Top TV: Sony XBRX900C Series 4K Ultra HD TV
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Quantum dots, aka nanocrystals, is the TV buzzword for 2015, but Sony has been using the color-expanding technology to great effect for years. The X900C series features Sony's new X1 image processor to render more colors and to scale HD and lesser sources up to 4K. In the spirit of nanotech, the X900C measures an amazingly slim 0.19 inch thick. Go any thinner, and you could use the set to shave with. The X900C TVs boast an equally slick Android TV interface, with streamlined scrolling menus, excellent text and voice search, and a huge app and game library. The X900C series comes in 55- and 65-inch screens, with a 75-inch option under the X910C series.
Top Wearable Fitness Device: Garmin Vivoactive
While Garmin introduced a few new products into its fitness tracker family at CES 2015, the $249 Vivoactive is the one we covet for its built-in GPS, smartphone notifications and svelte design. Its always-on color display lets you navigate between a number of third-party apps for nearly any activity or sport you could want to track. This wearable covers everything from running to golf to swimming, and you'll never miss an important call while you're training, thanks to the Vivoactive's smartphone notifications.
Top Heads-Up Display: Sulon Cortex
As the race toward the first consumer-ready virtual reality system intensifies, we've seen a variety of novel innovations, including the addition of haptic feedback and 3D audio. But Sulon Technologies has truly raised the bar with the Cortex. The head-mounted display provides the immersion we've come to expect from VR helmets and adds sensors to track your hand movements and map the room you're in. The end result is your very own holodeck, complete with tracking technology to keep you from crashing into walls. Early adopters can begin preordering the boundary-pushing device for $499.
Top Smartphone: ASUS ZenFone 2
Coming to the U.S. for $199, the ASUS ZenFone 2 packs an elegant exterior and a beautiful display, but what's inside is even more exciting. This Intel-powered 5.5-incher is the first smartphone to feature 4GB of RAM, giving it plenty of power for multitasking and graphic-intensive gaming. Factor in the ZenFone 2's feature-rich 13-MP camera, fast-charging battery and highly customizable ZenUI, and you've got a genuine Android powerhouse that can do it all.
Top Smartwatch Alcatel Onetouch Watch
Lusting after the Apple Watch but don't have $350 to spare? The Alcatel Onetouch Watch pairs with iOS and Android devices to serve notifications and apps for just $150. Packing a heart-rate monitor, altimeter and other sensors, the Onetouch Watch is also an ample fitness monitor. It runs a proprietary operating system that lets you control music, monitor your runs and locate your phone, among other features. A USB head hidden in the strap makes charging the device easy. Best of all, the chrome version of the Onetouch makes a great piece of arm candy.
Top Streaming Device: Razer Forge TV
The Razer Forge TV appears to be everything that both the Google Nexus Player and the elusive Steamboxes should have been. In addition to being a full-fledged Android TV box running apps such as Netflix, the Forge TV boasts a unique Razer technology called Cortex: Stream. This app allows the Forge TV to stream just about any Steam game from a gaming PC to a living room TV. For just $100, the Forge TV plays Android games, streams PC titles and offers top-notch Android TV streaming apps. This promises to be one of the easiest ways to bring PC games to the big screen.
Top All-in-One PC: MSI AG240 4K Edition
MSI broke new ground last year with some of the first dedicated gaming all-in-ones, and the company is innovating even further by adding a fancy 4K display to its flagship desktop. The $2,000 MSI AG240 4K edition is as sharp as it is sexy, featuring a 23.6-inch, 3840 x 2160 screen encased within extra-slim edges. Featuring a 4th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 900M GPUs and up to three SSDs, the AG240 4K edition is a complete, beefy gaming rig that takes up as little space as a monitor.
Top Gaming PC: CyberPowerPC Trinity Fang
With its funky tripedal design, the CyberPowerPC could easily pass as a piece of modern art. However, the Trinity Fang is more than an interesting conversation piece. Starting at $399 for the chassis, gamers can trick out the Fang with powerful specs, including an Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 900 series GPU and up to five SSDs. This futuristic rig also comes with a liquid cooling system to prevent toasty temps when Fang is sinking its teeth into the competition.
Top Display: Seiki Pro 4K Ultra HD Display
What sets the Seiki Pro apart from the competition is its ability to display content from four separate sources simultaneously, be they over HDMI, DisplayPort, MHL (for mobile devices), DVI or VGA inputs. Whether you want to show one gorgeous movie or game in 4K or four 1080p sources side-by-side, the Seiki Pro provides a simple and beautiful canvas. Beyond that, it has all the goodies of other monitors.
Top Gaming Peripheral: Roccat Nyth
No gaming mouse will suit every player, which is why Roccat provides the opportunity to customize a peripheral that's perfect for you. The Roccat Nyth ($130) is a mouse that lets gamers choose their own palm rest and number of thumb buttons. Whether you need just two big buttons for an action game or 12 small ones for a massively multiplayer online (MMO) title, you can add or subtract entire rows as necessary. You can even 3D print your own buttons if the default ones aren't to your taste. The Nyth suits both palm- and claw-grip players.
Top 3D Printer: R2 Mini
The new R2 Mini by Robo 3D packs the punch of a much larger 3D printer into a petite, portable size. With a compact build volume of just 4.5 x 4.5 x 4.5, the R2 Mini can receive print jobs via Wi-Fi as well as USB and SD Card, and can print in a range of materials, not just the typical PLA and ABS plastics. It also features a LCD touch screen and a mostly enclosed print bay for increased safety. When it goes on sale this spring, the R2 Mini will cost less than $600.
Top Camera: Nikon D5500
Nikon's first DSLR with a touch screen, the D5500 features the 24.2-megapixel sensor we love from the previous D5300. (Nikon skipped right from D5300 to D5500.) The 3.2-inch vari-angle display lets D5500 owners focus and shoot with a single touch, and do so from almost any position. Packed inside a stiff new monocoque body, the D5500 sells for just $1,000 with an 18-55mm lens. Entry- and enthusiast-level photogs should be thrilled when this camera goes on sale in early February.
Top Drone: EHANG Ghost
Drones are bigger than ever at CES this year, but the one that really stole the show for us was the EHANG Ghost. This new drone doesn't come with a built-in camera; instead, for $599 you get the Ghost with an attached gimbal for a GoPro camera ($375 without gimbal). Via the accompanying Android app, you can set the Ghost to follow you via its GPS, or steer it just by tilting your Android device up and down. The Ghost also gets an impressive 20 minutes of flight time (30 minutes without a camera and gimbal attached). Finally, we love the Ghost's curvy, stylish design.
Top Smart Home Device: Lucis NuBryte
You'll be surprised what this little $199 console, which replaces your light switch, can do. Thanks to a small camera, the NuBryte can turn your lights on and off automatically, record intruders and act as an intercom if you have more than one NuBryte in your home. You can even send messages to and from your smartphone to the console, so you can tell your spouse you're running late -- extending the range of your smart home beyond your front door.
Top Security Camera: Netatmo Welcome
Forget subscriptions -- Netatmo's Welcome home security camera makes keeping an eye on your home a no-brainer. Instead of continuous video surveillance, Welcome snaps a photo every time it detects a face in the room. Sending notifications to your smartphone, Welcome learns who is friend or foe over time, and you can customize notifications for certain people. Best of all, there are no fees or monthly subscriptions, and all of Welcome's photos are stored locally on an SD card, giving you full control over your home's footage at all times.
Top Smart Home Lighting Device: Stack Alba
For those who want a simple screw-in solution to smart lighting, it doesn't get much easier than this. Motion and light sensors embedded in the Stack Alba bulb will cause the light to turn on when you enter the room, and will adjust the temperature--whether they look more blue or red -- based on the ambient light. The $60 bulbs ($150 for a pack of two, plus a hub) also work with the Nest thermostat, so they can tell it to keep the heat on longer if you're in the room. Now that’s a bright idea.
Top Headphones: Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Wireless Headphones
Wireless headphone fans have suffered for years with floppy bass monstrosities that get crazy with the audio to cover up the deficiencies of wireless tech. Sennheiser, one of the best brands in headphones, has done a lot to solve those problems with its entry into the crowded Bluetooth headphones market. Using the Bluetooth aptX codec to solve the problems of less-than-stellar wireless audio, the Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Wireless headphones promise punchy audio with great fidelity and active noise cancelling in a small package.
Top Bluetooth Speaker: Mass Fidelity Core
Little box, big punch. Mass Fidelity's Core Speaker is a highly attractive piece of tech, thanks to its glossy black top, cloth middle and chrome base. Most important, the $599 Core packs enough power to fill a large room with clear, nuanced audio -- blowing out speakers twice its size. The sonic punch only intensifies when you throw in the $399 wireless subwoofer, which adds another dimension of bass to the performance. The result is near concert-quality sound from a box that can fit neatly on your desk.
Top Robot: Meccanoid G15 KS
A new robotic best friend for children ages 3 to 80, the $399 Meccanoid G15 KS kit can be turned into a wide variety of configurations, from a WALL-E-like biped to a mechanized dinosaur. No matter how it looks, the Meccanoid can be programmed via a mobile app, voice commands or buttons on its body. A speaker and microphone allow it to talk back to you while wheels and arms let it roll around the house and perform complex motions.
Top Car Tech: 2015 QNX Technology Concept Car
Not only will QNX's OS platform power more than 50 percent of next-gen car systems, its 2015 Technology Concept Car gives a vision of a future where automotive technology truly works with you, delivering the entertainment you want and the safety you need. More than just a tricked out Maserati, QNX's demo car features a plethora of cameras that can eliminate blind spots while driving and prevent collisions. With major automakers like Ford, GM and Audi adopting QNX's tech, it will be here sooner than you think.
Top Innovation: HP Zvr Virtual Reality Display
For so long, 3D has been the fetch technology companies have tried (and failed) to make happen. HP may have found the winning formula with the Zvr Virtual Reality Display, a 23.6-inch panel that looks like the teaching tool of the future. Working in tandem with four eye-tracking cameras, a pair of 3D glasses and a haptic stylus, the Zvr creates 3D holographic images in real time, creating uniquely immersive and educational experiences, such as exploring the inner workings of the human heart or dissecting a butterfly.
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