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Technology gets an early start every year at CES (Consumer Electronics Show), the massive gadget show in Las Vegas. It shows what we can expect in 2019 and sets the trends to watch. While phone makers tend to wait for the Mobile World Conference in February, CES is still the first chance to see what might be kicking up dust for phones and connected (IoT) devices. So to whet your appetites for what 2019 holds, here are some interesting and odd gadgets from the CES floor.
Flexible phones are on their way. In fact, they are already here – providing you live in China and have more than US$1,000 to spend. Reviewers have, however, called the Royal FlexiPai slow, clumsy and lacking in features that you’d expect in phones going at half its price. But it is a proper foldable phone and you could buy one if you really wanted to.
LG OLED TV R
Speaking of folding things, LG was at CES showing off a television that rolls out of sight. When packed away, the LG OLED TV R’s (The R stands for 'Rollable Screen) stand is little more than a long and low rectangular box that you might be tempted to decorate with your keys and maybe a few pot plants. But, at a click, it opens a gap at the top and the screen vertically rises up into its full 65-inch 4K glory. How doe the R do this? It literally rolls up inside the base.
China is on fire when it comes to phones right now, willing to try just about anything to break into the global market. Nubia, once a part of the ZTE empire, has gone on its own and is making some very interesting models. The Nubia X is not ready for release yet, but it hopes the dual screen will find a lot of fans. Dual screen? Yes, the back of the phone is also a screen – lower res, so it consumes less power. You can also use it to take selfies, so the main screen doesn’t need a user-facing camera. That allows the Nubia X’s main screen to use the entire edge-to-edge space.
Garmin Mercedes-Benz Vívoactive 3 GPS
Tired? Stressed? If only your car knew and helped you find a moment of tranquillity. Enter the new Vivoactive 3 smartwatch from Garmin, co-branded with Mercedes Benz. This gadget detects your vital signs and transmits them to your car (a Mercedes, of course). Then the car will tweak its environment to help you relax, by adjusting the seats, air conditioning and music, for example. It will even recalculate your routes so you can travel on more stress-free roads. While all this sounds great, things like messing with their music or travel time could annoy some people.
Pundi X XPhone
Blockchain isn’t just for losing your money on Bitcoin. At its heart, the technology is an excellent way to keep data secure and authentic. Can that be used to create confidential phone calls and instant messages? The Pundi X XPhone says yes. It uses blockchain to create encrypted calls and messages between different XPhones. If you have serious secrets you need to share with someone, this might be for you – providing they have an XPhone too. But the models shown at CES are only prototypes, so for now maybe be careful who you’re talking to.
Lenovo Smart Clock
Aren’t we supposed to spend less time on our phones in bed? Then again, maybe the Lenovo Smart Clock will help with that. It’s actually a tiny Google Assistant that tells you the time and allows you to set timers, see your schedule, stream music and control smart home devices. So, in theory, that means a lot of the stuff you might want your phone for can be handled by your bedside clock instead. On the other hand, before you know it you’re checking Instagram instead of setting an alarm for your early start in the morning.