CES has been known as the big-TV trade show, but that changed this year. Despite amazing 4K TVs with curved screens and smart interfaces, wearable technology stole the show, with so many innovative offerings that we needed four categories. CES also gave us plenty of 3D printers and smart-home devices to select for our highest honors. Add a cloud-gaming service that turns HDTVs into consoles and a leaping robot, and it's easy to see why we love our jobs. These are the best innovations of CES 2014.
CES 2014 was awash in monstrous, curved, bending OLED and 4K TVs more extravagant than we could even imagine. But for a TV you could actually buy (starting at $1,600), the Sharp Quattron+ beats all of its rivals. Sharp doubles the resolution of this 1080p TV by reconfiguring each pixel to create something between HD and 4K. (See our detailed explanation.) This lets the TV accept a 4K, or Ultra HD, signal and retain the additional detail. Even better, the Quattron+ can upscale HD video to provide noticeably better detail and sharpness.
Samsung's NX30 mirrorless camera is a radical upgrade from its predecessor. Its 20.3-megapixel sensor incorporates phase-detection technology for a claimed auto-focus speed of 80 milliseconds, plausible based on our informal tests. The NX30 has an electronic viewfinder that rivals an optical DSLR eyepiece and also tilts upward, letting you look down to shoot subjects such as toddlers without having to crouch. Its swiveling, 3-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen lets you eyeball shots with the camera held down low, up high or even facing you.
How would you like to start playing a game on your PS4, then continue the action on your bedroom TV (where there's no console) and then pick up where you left off on a mobile device? That's the beauty of PlayStation Now, a cloud-based service that streams PS3 games directly to PS4s, PS3s and, soon, PlayStation Vitas. Initial titles include hits like "God of War: Ascension" and "The Last of Us," and Sony will be adding more — all for a single subscription cost. Up next? Support for Sony Bravia TVs, as well as smartphones and tablets.
Proving smartwatches don't have to look like geek wear, the new Pebble Steel sports an elegant stainless-steel design that you won't be afraid to wear to an important meeting or out on a date. The $249 device boasts a tough Gorilla Glass screen and comes with both metal and leather bands. Just as importantly, Pebble has the competition beat with its growing ecosystem. An official app store launches at the end of January, and partnerships with ESPN, Yelp, Pandora, Foursquare and Mercedes will bring even more functionality to your wrist.
Google Glass brings notifications to your face, but the Meta Pro offers full-blown augmented reality and lets you interact with the world in a new way. During a hands-on demo, we drew 3D models by extending our hands and manipulating projected images. The Meta Pro is a wearable computer and can be used in its most literal sense; the Intel Core i5-powered headset can project Windows as an overlay in front of a user's eyes. It will cost a hefty $3,000 when it goes on sale in June, but the Meta Pro literally changes the way you view the world.
The Razer Nabu is among new fitness bands that integrate smartwatch features, such as displaying texts, phone calls and social media alerts. The Nabu truly shines when it interacts with other Nabus to share data. You can exchange LinkedIn information or follow someone on Twitter by simply shaking another Nabu wearer's hand. We love the dual screens: the Public Display on top, and the Private Messages Screen underneath. The Nabu launches in the first half of 2014 and will cost developers $49; we hope Razer keeps that price for consumers.
For its value and power, the sub-$1,000 Cube 3 from 3DSystems is the best new 3D printer at CES 2014. With a body of just 1 cubic foot, the Cube 3 fits anywhere in the home and prints objects in PLA and ABS up to 6 x 6 x 6 inches in size. Two extruders let it print two colors at once. An impressive print resolution and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity are just some of the features the Cube 3 boasts. The Cube 3 also benefits from 3DSystems' online store, library and community called Cubify. The Cube 3 will go on sale this spring.