At CES 2017, Alexa, paper-thin TVs are early stars

There’s the equivalent of some 43-football fields worth of space filled with gadgets at CES 2017. With that many tech toys to explore, they all start to blur together pretty quickly. Here’s what I’ve seen so far that’s made an impression.

Photo: Ford

Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant is already trying to get into every room of your house, so it was only a matter of time before she made it into your car, too. Ford is making it all possible with its SYNC 3 AppLink software, so you can use Alexa’s voice commands to ask for directions, get a rundown of the top headlines, add milk to your shopping list, or catch the latest New York Times bestseller via audiobook. Alexa can even unlock your doors or start your engine. It starts rolling out across compatible vehicles this Spring.

Paper thin TV’s

LG’s new Signature 77W7 4K TV is so thin you might mistake it for a poster, or even a picture window. They nicknamed it the “Wallpaper TV” because it’s just a tad thicker than a credit card, and unless you’re looking at it straight-on, it practically disappears. Still, LG packed in features like Active HDR, which makes darker scenes clearer, and OLED technology so there’s no back light, but rather each pixel handles its own illumination. It melts into the wall like no other TV I’ve ever seen, and it’s coming soon in 2017.

Super bikes
Maya Castro for USA TODAY
Smart cars have been around for a while, and smart bikes are now catching up. LeEco is leading the charge with Android-powered, touchscreen-equipped road and mountain bikes that give you turn-by-turn directions, play music even without an Internet connection, and even let you chat with other riders on a built-in walkie talkie system. LeEco’s bikes also keep track of speed and direction, and if you’re wearing a heart-rate monitor, it’ll grab that data and put it on the touchscreen dashboard, too. These are expected to hit the market in later 2017.

Laptop’s got game!

Virtual reality is back in full force this year and it’s showing up in surprising new ways, like Lenovo’s new Y720 laptop. It’s part of Lenovo’s new Legion brand for gamers, and it’s packed with a powerful processor and discrete graphics that power the top-of-the-line VR headsets, so you don’t need to be tethered to a big bulky desktop. What’s cool, too, the system provides VR support for existing games and movie watching, and it’s topped off with Dolby Atmos audio. Oh, and did I mention it even does 4K? Yeah, this thing is a beast. It goes on sale this coming February for $1,399.

Kids bots with brains

Maya Castro

Leave it to LEGO to bring the bots in a super fun way. The LEGO Boost is a construction set for kids that gets them building and coding at the same time. Kids build whatever they can dream up with the high-tech components and then program their pint-sized bots with super easy-to-learn coding blocks on the LEGO Boost smartphone app. Kids will learn how their commands affect how the robot moves, building some serious tech skills and having fun at the same time. It’ll be available August 2017 for kids ages 7+.

Tiny problem-solving tech

Robert Hanashiro, USAT

TrakR wants to go a step further solving the frustration of losing your keys, your phone, and even the TV remote with its little “pixel” tracking devices. Just stick a pixel on whatever you want to track in your home, like your kids’ favorite toy or your keys, and if you ever lose it the new TrackR Atlas hub, which syncs directly with an app on your phone, tells you what room in your house that particular thing is hiding in.

It shows you a layout of your home and pinpoints exactly where your missing thing is tucked away. TrackR pixels even light up to so you can see your phone under the couch or find your keys after they’ve been swallowed up by your purse. Coming in Spring 2017.

A Fitbit for Fido

Sometimes we’re so worried about getting our own bodies enough exercise that we forget our four-legged friends need to stretch their legs just the same. The Link AKC smart collar ($149) is like a Fitbit for your pooch. It measures activity levels and temperatures to report how happy and healthy your dog really is, and it’s also a GPS tracker that tells you where your pup is at all times via the app. You only have to charge it about once a week, and it’s water resistant so puddle splashes aren’t a big deal.

A TV you never turn off

Samsung just announced something that doesn’t even make any sense until you see it. It’s a TV that never turns off. It’s called the Lifestyle TV. When you’re watching it, it’s a clear, crisp HDTV with all of Samsung’s smart TV apps and functions, but it’s what happens when you’re not watching it that is really special. Get this: the TV instantly transforms from a video display into a gorgeous frame that displays whatever you want, like photos of your family or beautiful works of art. It’s designed like a picture frame, too, and I bet guests won’t even know it’s actually a TV until you start up an episode of Game of Thrones. Samsung will be launching it later this year.

Space age sound

Jefferson Graham

The Mars speaker by Crazybaby ($300) is one of the rare CES treats that looks like it shouldn’t work, but it totally does. It’s a speaker that floats gently above its base, ringed in light, blasting out crisp tunes while deep bass pours out of the speaker hidden in the cylinder it soars above. It looks like a UFO, and it’s just about as high-tech. The floating speaker uses magnets to levitate and when it needs to suck up a bit more power it simply sets itself down on the base below, which doubles as a charger. Then, when it’s juiced back up, it takes off again. It sounds fantastic and syncs via Bluetooth to play sound from any device you want.

The “everything” remote

Wait, I know what you’re thinking. “Jenn, why is there a remote on your list of must-see gadgets?” Just hear me out: The Seven Hugs Smart Remote ($229) doesn’t just control your TV or stereo, though it does those things, too, it’s like a single do-it-all controller for your entire home. It can dim your smart bulbs, tweak your Nest thermostat, start a new Netflix binge, tell you the weather forecast and even call you an Uber. But what’s even more impressive is that it knows what you’re pointing it at, no matter where you are in your house, and it automatically adapts its bright, colorful touchscreen to each device. Point it at your TV and it’ll control your TV, but point it at your lamp and it’ll switch screens automatically so you can tweak your lighting. It’s genius, and it starts shipping this coming August.


Razer is taking gaming laptops to a completely different, almost absurd level with its new 17-inch triple-screen gaming laptop code-named Project Valerie.

The laptop has a slightly thicker-than-normal form factor when closed, at around 1.5-inches, and once opened, a proprietary set of hinges deploy to reveal three monitors, equally sized at 17.3-inches and each sporting up to 4K resolution. Oh, and the monitors are G-SYNC enabled, too, in case you were worried.

When fully deployed, the laptop gives users an absolutely ridiculous resolution of 11,520 x 2160. Powering all those pixels is a desktop-grade Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card, which also makes Project Valerie exceed "the minimum hardware requirements of HTC Vive and Oculus Rift."

"The complexities of a traditional multi-monitor setup are a thing of the past," Razer co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan promises. Since the monitors are all part of the machine, there are no extra cables to deal with, and the multi-monitor set-up doesn't have the large footprint generally associated with 3 monitors.

All told, Project Valerie weighs less than 12 pounds, which makes it one of the heaviest high-end gaming laptops. However, that 12 pounds of tech gets you desktop performance and three 17.3-inch screens.

Razer is at CES 2017 showing off its new tech, including its Chroma-enabled Project Ariana projector.

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