Product demos that attract throngs on the trade show floor don’t always end up pulling crowds into stores. If they did, we’d all be using MiniDiscs and Palm Pre smartphones.
Certainly, this past 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show had its share of products that got a lot of attention but won’t translate into retail success. There was a lot of noise about (and best-of accolades for) the Razer Edge gaming system, for example. But starting at $999 it’s unlikely to be a success, especially because casual gaming on smartphones and tablets is eviscerating the console market. And Windows 8 laptops were well represented at the show but will likely continue to get a lukewarm response from consumers.
On the other hand, sifting through the displays both monstrous and modest yielded some products and trends that should tempt consumers this year. From new TVs to tablet accessories, there was something in nearly every category to entice shoppers. Here are some of the standout products and trends for the coming months.
Every store needs a showpiece, and this year it’s going to be Ultra HD. All the major brands will have models in the 4K category this year, but once again Samsung seems to be leading the pack with an 85-inch model that steals a page from Bang & Olufsen’s design book.
The UN85S9 hangs and tilts in a large, floor-standing black frame, turning what is often a bland piece of electronics into a work of art for the living room. With strikingly sharp resolution and full-array LED back lighting, this set should represent the state-of-the-art this year. Voice and gesture control, built-in video calling, and upconversion—which is necessary until a significant amount of 4K programming becomes available—are all included.
While Ultra HD sets will remain an aspirational product this year, some more affluent buyers may be tempted by 55-inch Ultra HD sets. These look stunning and should be much less than the $20,000 some 85-inch models will cost.
Dish Hopper with Sling DVR
Set top boxes will continue to be a growing product category, but Dish’s Hopper with Sling easily leapfrogs the competition. The satellite service’s DVR takes two terabytes of storage, three tuners, and multiroom service (via Joeys) and then adds an almost irresistible feature: Sling place-shifting so that owners can watch Dish channels on anything from an iPad to an Android phone anywhere there’s an Internet connection. The new Hopper also includes Wi-Fi so the whole setup is dongle-free.