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CES 2023 was a blast! So much cool stuff to see!

Well since I’ve finally (mostly) recovered from my incredible trip to CES 2023, I thought I’d share my thoughts and some cool tech I saw while I was there.  

Laptops 

Probably my favorite things there were the laptops, and boy are there a crap ton lol. I know for a fact I didn’t get to see all of them, and I missed out on some that I really wanted to see, but I still got to see some pretty interesting ones. 

Robo&kala 

They very first one that caught my eye was from a new company called Robo&kala that is aiming to basically do the Surface Pro 9 better than Microsoft. And when I say “do the Surface Pro 9”, I mean it.  

This thing is a spitting image of Microsoft’s latest 2-in-1, so much so that several people actually asked them if they were selling accessories for the Surface Pro 9. The strong similarity certainly isn’t a bad thing (unless maybe from a legal standpoint) because Microsoft makes some pretty great hardware these days.  

Robo&kala does make some really interesting improvements though which I think will make for an overall better device, assuming of course there’s not glaring bugs or issues. Firstly, the screen is much better in my opinion. It stretches corner-to-corner and it looks like an OLED to my eyes, and while I couldn’t compare them on the floor, this one certainly looks better.  

It also has the same kickstand and detachable keyboard design, but I think this keyboard is a whole lot better than Microsoft’s at least from my few minutes with it.  

If there are any concessions with the hardware, it’s that they opted for a Snapdragon processor instead of Intel’s latest, but the base model starts with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage. The CTO of the company agreed with me wholeheartedly that 8GB of RAM is simply unacceptable for a laptop these days, particularly one running the full version of Windows 11, so that was nice to see. 

The other impressive claim from the CEO was that it was fanless, but I didn’t get to really put it through its paces so I couldn’t tell for sure, but that also made me really curious about what kind of performance we’ll be able to get from it. Truthfully though, a mostly casual user like me doesn’t really care about top-of-the-line performance, mainly just that my dozen-plus Chrome tabs will run without any hiccups lol.  

This computer (which for now I just think is the called the same name as the company) has some additional interesting features you don’t get from Microsoft that make it really compelling, namely that as soon as you disconnect the keyboard, it instantly switches to a Bluetooth connection so you can use it detached from the tablet itself. In my 5 minutes with the thing, it worked flawlessly which made me excited. Barring any major bugs, that will certainly be my favorite feature lol.  

This leads to the biggest unknown of the whole thing: reliability. This is a brand-new company, with no track record to speak of (although the CEO and CTO both spent time at major companies like Samsung) which means we’ll just have to wait and see how they tackle bugs and provide long-term software and hardware support.  

Overall though, this is a super compelling device. Surface like hardware, flagship specs, clever features, and a really compelling price. They told me that the base model will ship with the keyboard and pen (which is an Apple Pencil look-alike) included all for around $1,000. If they really can ship this thing without any glaring technical or legal issues, this will be a hugely compelling device.  

I’m honestly really curious to see how long they’ll actually be able to sell these in the US (or anywhere else) before Microsoft catches wind and sues the crap out of them. Hopefully they don’t though because it’s actually a really awesome product. 

Lenovo 

The second really cool laptop I saw was the new dual screen one from Lenovo. There’s already been plenty of coverage from the broader tech world on this one so I won’t dive too much into it here – The Verge, Dave2D, and others have already covered it well and I only got a few minutes to play with it at their crowded booth – but it’s definitely interesting.  

Asus 

I also got a chance to explore Acer’s latest offerings and they look pretty nice too. They had their latest Zenbooks and consumer and enterprise focused laptops there, but the ones I really cared about where their new Republic of Gamer (ROG) machines. I saw several models, all of which look like pretty solid upgrades from last year, including new processors and NVIDIA’s new RTX 4000 series GPUs, but the one that intrigued me the most was their new gaming 2-in-1.  

That’s right, they crammed an i7 (I think, might be an i9) and a 4060 into a Surface like tablet. As you might expect, it’s not nearly as thin and light as the Surface because they have to leave room for all the fans and cooling and such, but it is technically a tablet. 

Now, if I ever actually get to test one or can afford to buy one I can comment more on the portability of it, but I honestly wouldn’t say this is a device you would want to use very much in tablet mode. It kinda makes me wonder what Asus is actually trying to accomplish here other than throwing something at the wall to see if it sticks because I honestly can’t see many serious gamers choosing this over a super portable gaming laptop nor can I see many non-gamers wanting to get this as a productivity device that can also play games. Either way, it’ll be interesting.  

Asus also won for coolest new tech in a laptop with a computer with a legit 3D display. I was actually able to play with it. The demo I used was of a computer-generated beating heart that I could actually grab with a pen and pull out of the display to turn and look at in 3D. Again, many other tech reviewers are going to cover this infinitely better than I could (Dave2D for instance) but it’s still pretty freaking awesome.  

Others 

There were certainly a ton of other laptops there, but the only other interesting one I got to see was from a German company called XMG. They’ve apparently been making gaming laptops for over 20 years and while many here in the states have likely never heard of them, from what I saw and heard from the Senior Product Developer, they really know what they’re doing. He told me they’ve been long-time partners with Intel and NVIDIA and from everything he showed me (it’s all quite technical so I won’t get into it here), they seem like the real deal. 

They even have a freaking water cooled laptop with a magnetic connector that snaps onto the back of the laptop to connect to a separate cooling chamber! 

Their laptops are really well designed too with all-aluminum chassis and no branding or any weird, unusual, off-putting design elements that I could see. Just pure black colors (with an RGB keyboard of course) that screamed raw power. I really hope they can actually break into the US market.  

Again, there were a ton of other laptops there, the new LG Gram, a really high-end new Chromebook from HP, and so on, but I didn’t really get much chance to look at any of those. Oh well. Next year! 

Cars 

Unfortunately, while smartphones used to be the big headliner gadgets at CES, over the past several years, automakers have taken to the show to show off their latest in automated and, more recently, EV tech.  

This year was no different and I luckily got to see some pretty cool cars on the floor.  

Dodge Ram EV 

Probably the biggest noise-maker from the car world this year was the new Dodge Ram EV. Stellantis (big-boy corporate owners of Dodge) announced the truck on Thursday and I was lucky enough to see it on Saturday at the show. There were still tons of people flocked around it when I got there 2 days after the reveal. 

It won’t launch until 2024 so Dodge will absolutely have to nail this truck if they hope to compete with the likes of Ford, Chevy, Rivian, and if they ever actually launch the Cyber Truck, Tesla. All signs point to a pretty awesome package though, but unfortunately much like the competition, this isn’t expected to be cheap. They didn’t mention pricing but I would expect it somewhere in the $60-75K range which is based purely on my quite limited knowledge of cars. 

Dodge Charger EV 

This one was a bit of a surprise to me, but Dodge also had a muscle car EV concept on the floor that certainly draws heavy inspiration from the Charger. At first I thought it might be a Hellcat EV because the funny looking symbol on the side softa looked like a Hellcat but the spokesperson there said that this isn’t really designed to look like any specific car (she also said the symbol is supposed to be a screaming badger? Whatever the hell that is.). 

The way she talked is that this is more of an idea of what their electric muscle car might look like if they ever release one. Who knows. I wasn’t all that excited about it and I didn’t get much time to play with it so we’ll see what happens.  

Peugeot RoboCop Car 

Not to be outdone by their sister company, Stellantis-owned Peugeot unveiled their new Innovation Concept EV that is, you guessed it, a concept car. My buddy Derek Kessler over at CrackBerry said it best that Peugeot’s new concept car looks straight out of an upcoming RoboCop remake. It’s bold, silver, extremely angular and uncomfortable looking, and entirely autonomous.  

I’ll let him tell you all the details of it but suffice to say, it’s certainly interesting. I’m curious to see what things they end up bringing to a consumer version, but considering they don’t sell to the US market, chances are I’ll never get to find out in person.  

DeLorean is Back 

But not to the Future. If you didn’t know, the DeLorean is coming back, but not at all in the way you might think. The company that made the original DeLorean, made famous in Back to the Future, went kaput a while back but a new company bought the licensing rights to it and are re-launching the car as a fully electric vehicle.  

I didn’t get any details as there wasn’t an available spokesperson to talk to but the car does look really cool, even if it oddly resembles that crazy Mercedes Avatar car announced last year.  

Everything Else 

There was SO MUCH stuff to see at CES that there’s absolutely no way I could talk about it all, so I’ll just touch on a few more of my favorites.  

Motorola 

While I didn’t get to play with any phones there, I did have a really interesting chat with one of Motorola’s accessories folks. It’s kind of a long story, but basically the company that supplied Motorola with most of their accessories (chargers and such) which they then sold onto customers for years, decided to license all the accessories and sell them directly after Lenovo was planning to eliminate the whole department. That’s why you still see a strong ecosystem of Motorola accessories and why there’s a whole lot more coming in the pipeline.   

What I got really excited about is something called their Ready For platform. It’s essentially very similar to Samsung Dex (which is how he described it to me) in that it will instantly turn your phone into a desktop on a nearby screen such as a TV or monitor. It’s a little dock that works pretty seamless – or at least it did on the show floor – and wirelessly meaning you can grab your phone off the dock and walk around with it and still be casting to the correct screen. 

There’s a lot more to it and I hope to get a sample to look at soon, but it’s cool to see Motorola still bringing some innovative stuff to the market. Oh and they have a whole bunch of wireless earbuds on the way too.  

The Rest 

There was also a Sonos competitor that sounds really compelling and like it might actually give them a run for their money and some $30 headphones that had no business sounding as good as they did for that price. ViewSonic also has some great looking new monitors, including a stunning mini-led gaming monitor, Nanoleaf had some cool stuff to show, the new Matter protocol was everywhere, and there were more random (mostly crappy) accessories than you could ever want.  

All-in-all, my first CES was an incredible experience that I can’t wait to have again. I really hope I get the chance to go again next year and see even more stuff and hang out with even more awesome people.