Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot was my CES road trip companion

I love a good road trip. I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of miles in cars during my life, and the best times were when I knew it would be hours or even days before I reached my destination. Typically a friend (or friends) or family members would accompany me, but on a few occasions, it was just me, my music collection — and scenery screaming past me at 70 miles per hour.

Tesla Model 3

In the past few years, more and more automakers have created semiautonomous systems so that you’re no longer “alone” on these drives. One of the more robust (and most famous) is Tesla’s Autopilot. It’s a combination of lane-keep assist and tracking coupled with adaptive cruise control. It’s impressive, and recently the automaker (also a battery and solar-panel company) updated the system to optimize your lane location and auto change lanes. So I took the latest upgrade; Navigate on Autopilot (available for Teslas built on or after October 19, 2016) on a 571-mile drive from San Francisco to Las Vegas to attend CES.

Long drives, while fun, are exhausting. With that in mind, I got up at 5:30 AM and was on the road before 6:30 AM. Right off the bat, the difference between Autopilot and Navigate on Autopilot was apparent. I had used the system very briefly in L.A., but when you’re looking down the hood of a car for at least 10 hours (but probably longer because of charging), you quickly notice how something will make the drive easier.

Tesla says the system finds the quickest lane along your route. For example, if you’re sitting in the right lane behind a slow-moving vehicle and the car determines that the left lane is moving faster (within your set speed limit), it’ll prompt you to change lanes. You tap the indicator stalk and the car moves over when safe.

Tesla Model 3

During the drive, I followed the car’s advice on which lane to occupy about 90 percent of the time. It was typically spot-on. It prompted me to switch lanes, I tapped the stalk in that direction and when safe, the car would move over. As a strong believer that the leftmost lane is for passing only, I was delighted that after overtaking a slower vehicle on the highway, the system prompted me to get back in the right lane, which I was happy to initiate.

If we can teach a robot how to drive on the freeway, maybe there’s a chance we can instruct the humans who think that hanging out in the left lane is OK to stop doing that. Seriously, stop doing that. You’re impeding traffic.

Tesla Model 3 Navigate on Autopilot

Currently, the system requires input from the driver to switch lanes by enabling the turn signal. But Tesla says that eventually, it’ll give drivers the opportunity to opt out of instigating the lane change and letting the vehicle do it itself.

During my drive, the actual lane-changing was far smoother than what I experienced in previous versions of Autopilot. But there were a few times when it pulled out in front of someone I would have waited to pass me. It wasn’t cutting people off per se, but I’m sure some of the more aggressive drivers were not happy when I slid into their lane. Sorry, guy in the white Honda Accord.

While the drive down Interstate 5 is pretty much a straight shot, I pulled off to charge, grab food and, of course, encountered a few interchanges. Navigate on Autopilot is built to tackle these tricky situations. Every time I was supposed to exit the interstate, the car prompted me to make sure it was in the right lane, then just before the exit, the turn signal came on and the car pulled off the freeway. Navigate on Autopilot is geofenced to highways and freeways without cross traffic, so as I exited the interstate, the system would give me a countdown of when Navigate on Autopilot would turn off and go back to just regular Autopilot.

It does the same for interchanges. It recommends the correct lane, turns on the signal and then pulls off the main road. When you’re traveling unfamiliar roads, interchanges and off-ramps can be a one-way ticket to an argument with your passengers when one is missed. Everyone should have been paying attention and yet, no one was. Navigate on Autopilot exited every time it was supposed too. I’m not saying it’ll stop in-car fights, but it might help.

Tesla Model 3 Navigate on Autopilot

But it’s not a perfect system. It had a bit of a hiccup pulling off the freeway (this was later, while driving around Vegas during CES). It seemed like it wasn’t sure where exactly where to pull off. So I just took over.

The auto lane change also had a weird issue along a stretch of road in the desert. It would start to change lanes, then veer back into the original lane. Typically I can figure out why the system is having trouble: the contrast between the road and markings isn’t drastic enough, the sun is shining directly into the sensors or any number of other factors. But here, I couldn’t figure it out. About 5 to 7 miles down the road, the car went back to happily changing lanes on its own.

Which brings me to my reminder that these systems still require hands on the wheel and for the driver to pay attention to the road. This is not an autonomous car. Semiautonomous, sure. But it’s not self-driving, and we still have a ways to go before that’s something any of us will be driving.

Yet, during my road trip (which took 13 hours because I visited my mom and stopped four times to charge), Navigate on Autopilot was a helpful travel companion. It’s not perfect, but it definitely made those 571 miles less taxing. I arrived in Las Vegas a bit tired but not nearly as exhausted as I would typically have been after being on the road for that long. Navigate on Autopilot is a substantial upgrade to Autopilot, which is what we’re looking for as we (very) slowly move toward full autonomy.

Tesla Model 3

Road trips just got easier, but in no way less fun. You can still tackle the twisties or divert to side roads to gawk at roadside attractions that the highway system overlooks. But when you’re on the interstate (or even commuting), Tesla has a system that’ll help you get around. It’s not a self-driving machine, but more like a companion that doesn’t yell at you about eating all the jerky and knows exactly when the off-ramp is coming up.

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OMRON's redesigned ping pong robot no longer holds back

OMRON is best known for its healthcare products like thermometers and blood pressure monitors — now in the form of a smartwatch, even. But those who have been following our CEATEC coverage over the past five years may remember the company’s ambitious exhibit: the Forpheus table tennis robot. Little did I know that I would bump into this old friend here at CES. The machine is now in its fifth generation and packed with some surprising upgrades — let’s just say my parents would be disappointed in me if they were there.

Gallery: OMRON Forpheus (5th gen) ping pong robot at CES 2019 | 16 Photos

Technically speaking, this latest Forpheus is actually an entirely new robot. While previous models tended to reuse a lot of hardware, this new one was apparently built from the ground up just to play ping pong. This is partly to (finally) accommodate a full-size table, but more interestingly, the main body is actually more compact than before, all the while packing five cameras instead of just three.

Specifically, two of those cameras are focused on tracking the ball, with another two on the human player, plus a high-speed camera on the racket. Additionally, the racket is dotted with green labels on both sides to aid the high-speed camera — that way Forpheus can easily identify the type of spin being applied to the ball. With this vast vision upgrade paired with OMRON’s latest automation platform, Forpheus is now much better at predicting the human player’s behavior.

Under the belly, there’s a new multi-axis robotic arm that can better mimic a human elbow and wrist, which turned out to be a major advantage for Forpheus: It’s no longer afraid of spins. But not only that, the bot can even hit back with its own topspins and backspins. The faster servo controllers obviously help a lot, too.

OMRON Forpheus ping pong robot at CES 2019

If you haven’t guessed by now, I let my fellow humans down in this ping pong match. I could blame the larger table, the wrong type of racket, my wrong outfit for the sport, or the fact that I didn’t sleep at all the night before (ugh); but the truth is, Forpheus was just too good.

During my last four encounters with the machine’s younger self back in Tokyo, I was asked by OMRON’s reps to refrain from delivering spins (it was something about keeping harmony between humans and robots), and it wasn’t until the fourth generation when it could finally take smashes. This new one though? My spins were barely effective, so I could no longer trick Forpheus with my sneaky serves. My rusty table tennis skills meant that I also struggled to handle some of the spins from the robot — they weren’t aggressive spins, but I was continuously thrown off by the fact that this dorky-looking thing could pull this trick off at all.

After my embarrassing loss, Forpheus was kind enough to provide some useful feedback as I mopped up my sweat. Instead of just giving a vague rating, this time the robot offered coaching advice by comparing my moves with a professional player, and this was illustrated with a stick figure animation for clarity. In my case, I knew I missed several opportunities to strike, and Forpheus implied that it was to do with my racket’s orientation.

OMRON Forpheus ping pong robot at CES 2019

The on-screen report also indicated that my moves were 78% similar to that of a professional player which, according to OMRON’s rep, was pretty good — the highest score he saw at CES so far was a little over 80%. Still, I suspect the figure was somewhat inflated, but at least it looked OK on the giant display at OMRON’s crowded booth.

With the Tokyo Olympics coming up next year, you’d think OMRON would jump on this opportunity to promote its ping pong robot, but to my surprise, a rep was quick to say they have no plans to participate in the sports event. It’s also unclear whether OMRON would ever commercialize Forpheus. After all, the project has always solely been a showcase for the company’s industrial automation, mechanical design plus AI prowess.

As for me, I have my own upgrading to do before my next match with Forpheus. Just too bad that I can’t bring the machine home to practice with.

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Tech and tariffs in Sin City

Last week, tens of thousands of people flowed through a congested walkway on their way to see the latest and greatest tech at the Consumer Electronics Show. In years past, this hallway, which connects the Central Hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center to the South Hall, was generally free of any displays, with just a few couches pushed up against the wall. This year, however, a giant phone sat near the middle, off to the side of the aisle, with an approximately five-by-three sign proclaiming “Tariffs are taxes.”

It’s Thursday afternoon, and Bronwyn Flores, a policy communications specialist for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), has been manning the stand for almost two days. From 8AM to 6PM, she urges passersby to email their government representatives from the kiosk. Throughout the convention’s other locations in Vegas, roaming staff carry iPads to member lounges to seek out participants. They were also out in full force at the member kick-off party on the first night of the show. The mission is straightforward: get people to send messages to their representatives about how tariffs hurt their livelihoods.

The CTA tried to make the process as easy as possible for attendees. Whether at the kiosk or via an iPad, all someone has to do is scan the QR code on the badge that hangs around their neck. The system, created by digital advocacy group Phone2Action, automatically pulls the attendee’s particulars and displays a pre-populated form, complete with suggested message. Based on the individual’s residence, Phone2Action addresses the letter to the relevant government representative. If you don’t want to add the details of your own experience, you can just hit ‘send.’

The small station at the South Hall corridor is fairly easy to miss, especially if you’re rushing to a business meeting or an appointment. Still, Flores and her colleagues had helped send over 100 emails from the kiosk in under two days.

Tariffs at CES 2019

This was a different CES for Flores. Normally, policy work takes up most of her year, and CES is a break of sorts, where she mostly deals with media requests and helps facilitate interviews. This time, she spent the majority of the show reaching out to member companies to try to get them to talk to the press or share information that would help the CTA in its lobbying. “The CTA can talk, but we want them to tell their story,” she told Engadget.

Matching its efforts on the ground, the CTA published a number of statistics to hammer home its point. US businesses have paid over $6 billion in tariffs since October last year, and the American technology industry is on track to pay $1 billion a month in tariffs moving forward. The officials deciding what to do with tariffs or which companies to exempt are well aware of these numbers. “What’s really driving it home are those personal stories,” Flores said.

Getting people to email their representatives is part of the effort, but the CTA also collects these accounts for insight. “And then when we’re visiting the Hill, when we’re visiting the US Trade Representative, when we’re visiting the Commerce Department, we’re spreading that,” said Sage Chandler, vice president of international trade at the CTA. “We use it to inform the negotiations, to inform the process … How many companies it’s impacting, the dollar value on our economy and our companies,” she explained

Since the first list of tariffed goods was released, the CTA has been hard at work lobbying DC on behalf of member companies. “We went out. We got the input from our companies. We went and testified on the abbreviated version of what that report said,” Chandler said. That got a few products off the list — like TVs. A second list was drawn up to make up for the shortfall from removing the earlier products, while a third list arrived after China imposed its own tariffs in retaliation.

“We told that story so loud, they just got that exempted.”

“For every single list, there’s been a hearing and a submission,” Chandler said. “I’ve testified at every hearing, arguing the companies’ voice,” she added. The CTA also encourages business owners to tell their own stories, and sometimes flies them to Washington DC for the hearings to testify. “It’s almost when companies seem to be at wits’ end, and there’s nothing left to do, then they start getting loud,” Chandler said. “And I think companies are starting to really get enough of this.”

The CTA has had some small victories over the course of its efforts. For a CB radio-maker, Chandler said “We told that story so loud, they just got that exempted.” Another member company that creates connected home devices was also able to get one of its products taken off the list.

There are still plenty of companies that are shy about speaking up. At CES, my colleagues and I trekked to the South Hall to speak with representatives of smaller companies that have been affected by the tariffs. We had little luck getting the people at the smallest booths to say much, with the general sentiment being they were concerned about facing reprisal from Beijing for speaking with journalists. But to our surprise, many companies with medium-sized booths from both China and the US were happy to go on the record. In fact, many of them were emphatic in their response.

“It’s a tremendous headache,” said Alex Camara, CEO of Seattle-based audio electronics company AudioControl. Camara and his team assemble in the US, but buy parts from China and saw an immediate increase in costs from the initial round of 10-percent tariffs. AudioControl sells its products to dealers who then sell to consumers, and any price increase Camara applies will be compounded by the middlemen, translating to a massive jump for consumers. Camara has been trying to avoid hiking prices, which means he has to find other ways to cut costs.

“We are spending a disproportionate amount of time on understanding issues with tariffs, from how to change our supply chain, to our own manufacturing in the United States, to working with lawyers on understanding potential paths that we can go down to try and help,” Camara said.

Similarly, Vicki Mayo, owner and co-founder of Touchpoint Solutions, has been avoiding passing on the cost to her customers. TouchPoint Solutions makes a wearable intended to provide stress relief, and Mayo said it’s hard to find a manufacturer stateside that has experience making and miniaturizing wearable medical device components. “The cost is an issue, but quality is a bigger issue,” she said. She’s continued to get her parts from her China source and is absorbing the tariff.

“I either have to eat it, split it or pass it on.”

“I feel like I’m doing a disservice to people if I can’t offer them an alternative to medicine at an affordable price,” Mayo said. She will have to make major changes if a 25-percent tariff does go into effect. “Right now, we have enough inventory to be fine for some time,” she said, “Come February, we have to plan whether to come back onshore or take the hit.” If they increase their prices, companies will lose their competitive edge, especially against massive businesses better equipped to deal with the tariffs.

Eric Bodley, founder of fibre-optic-cable maker Future Ready Solutions, is at a loss. “If I get whacked with a 25 percent or 10 percent, I either have to eat it, split it or pass it on,” he said. For his last order, which he said wasn’t very big, “I paid $9,000 in pure money that I don’t really know how I’m going to charge anybody for.”

Passing the cost on to the consumer might mean losing customers. “It’s like, ‘this company is too expensive now, so I’m going to go over and buy everything [at a larger company]’, and they don’t come back,” Bodley said.

Small businesses have also had to dedicate a significant amount of time to figure out how they’ll be impacted and investigate possible solutions. Kyle Schaeffer, AudioControl’s head of supply chain and operations, said “I feel like I cannot spend enough time on it to really find a really good solution.”

Time is a wasted resource in this endeavor. “Nobody’s paying me for all the time it takes to deal with this,” Bodley said.

Another common sentiment is a crippling sense of uncertainty. It’s prevented Camara and Mayo from feeling optimistic about being able to grow their companies at the rates projected before the tariffs happened. In fact, Camara thinks he might not be able to hire as many new people as he had intended this year.

Tariffs at CES 2019

Despite the frustration, all the US companies I spoke with said they understood the desire to even out the imbalanced trade relationship with China. “I feel that for many years we have allowed China to be not as transparent or as fair,” Mayo said.

“From the macro perspective I see that. It’s important that every country treat every country with respect. I think that’s what Trump and the administration is doing,” she added.

Camara agrees, but questions the way events are unfolding. “We totally understand the reasons why the government is looking at how to create a better balance of trade,” he said. “We just want to make sure that we’re not knee-jerking into that situation.”

“When elephants fight, the ground gets trampled.”

For Bodley, it’s important to consider the cost of the trade talks. “I understand a negotiation tactic is playing hardball, but I think there’s going to be a lot more collateral damage,” he said.

As Gary Shapiro, CEO of the CTA, told me on stage at the show: “When elephants fight, the ground gets trampled. And the ground are people in both China and the US.”

It’s unclear what can be achieved from the ongoing talks between the US and China. “I’m not convinced or know that President Trump even wants to deal with China,” Shapiro said. The CTA’s work is important, but it is up against a unique administration. “It is one where you only have to convince one person, and that person has a limited amount of information coming from a very limited number of sources,” he explained.

In a situation like this, it’s tough to gauge how successful lobbying efforts can be. “I know (the CTA) is advocating on behalf of the industry,” Camara said. “My impression is that obviously there’s only so much they can do.” He noted that the CTA has been helpful in providing information about the tariffs.

Chinese companies, for their part, also seem to be trying to work with their government towards a meaningful resolution. Wenjuan Li, Marketing Director of Made In China, told Engadget she had been engaging the government and advocating for an end to the trade war. “We just want to do business,” she said. Companies are also helping each other out where possible, according to Breswell Su, sales manager at a Shenzhen-based electronics conglomerate.

China wants to protect its own companies. “There’s no question that China’s definitely gotten better about intellectual property theft, because there’s a lot of pressure, but also because they have their own innovative companies with intellectual property they’re trying to protect, ” Shapiro said.

Tariffs at CES 2019

The small businesses in both countries aren’t the only ones impacted by the trade war. “This is a global issue. And right now the global economy is clearly weakening a lot,” Shapiro said.

CES is not only an electronics show, it’s a manifestation of international trade. Despite the politics and uncertainty, the show must go on, and so must trade. Major Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE have already signed up for CES 2020, according to Shapiro. When Flores returns next year, hopefully she will be going back to her usual break from policy work. In the meantime, the advocacy continues.

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After Math: How we survived CES 2019

Wil Lipman Photography for Engadget

As cleanup crews descend on the Las Vegas Convention Center and the events attendees reluctantly make their ways home, it’s hard to believe that the weeklong technology expo is already over. We saw autonomous bread machines, self-driving semis, and even self-heating razors amidst the gaggle of cutting edge gadgets. Here are some of the coolest tech toys that we got to play with at CES 2019.


3 billion downloads: The VideoLan team, makers of the ultra-popular and wildly adaptable VLC media player, had a major announcement for closing days of CES 2019. The company announced that it would likely cross the 3-billion download milestone sometime on Friday afternoon! To celebrate, the company is working to integrate AirPlay capabilities into the system in the coming months.​​


6,500 pounds of hexacopter: Uber, despite its recent and rather fatal failures in autonomous ride hailing, has high hopes for its upcoming air taxi service. At CES 2019, Uber’s Elevate Program partner, Bell Aerospace, unveiled its prototype airship dubbed “Nexus.” The 6-fan VTOL aircraft will reportedly have a 150 MPH top speed and 150 mile operational range — perfect for short jaunts within and between regional cities — once it takes off around 2023.


14-mile range: $1000 can still buy you a lot these days, including a used car, a pretty fancy commuter bike or this here R1X electric skateboard from Riptide. With a 14 mile range an 22 MPH top speed, the R1X won’t be outrunning many other vehicles on the open road, but it should serve as a great last mile solution to your daily commute.

impossible burger

“100 percent better than this sandwich I picked up”: Engadget’s Deputy Managing Editor Nathan Ingraham knows a thing or two about beef. So when he tells you that a veggie burger designed to cook, taste and feel like the real thing tells you it’s better than the half of a free-lunch roast beef sandwich that we made him eat immediately beforehand, you can bet your bottom dollar it was delicious.


$5,000 more than a Harley: 2019 is gearing up to be the year that electric motorcycles truly breakthrough to the mainstream. Harley Davidson is leading the way with its $30,000 LiveWire e-bike. But the revered motorcycle maker is not alone, plucky startup Novus is getting in on the action as well with a sinister-looking two-wheeler that [checks notes] only costs five grand more.

All of Intel in under 10 minutes: Intel had a bunch of cool things to share with the tech buying public this year at CES and now you can watch all of their best reveals in less time than SNL’s mid-show commercial break.


1 fewer fat cat: Take that Wall Street!

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All the laptops that came out at CES 2019

With the latest release of NVIDIA’s RTX ray-tracing laptop chips, any manufacturer can make a fast and lightweight laptop. To stand out now, you need to try something new, so this year at CES 2019, the focus was on displays and eccentric designs.

Dell and HP showed that the future of gaming and multimedia laptop panels is both brighter and faster. Alienware’s laptop featured an upgradeable CPU and GPU, ASUS unveiled an all-in-one-like ROG laptop and Acer’s Predator Triton 900 had a singular hinge and exorbitant price tag. At the same time, there were many excellent-looking new models rocking NVIDIA’s latest chips. Without further ado, here’s a roundup of everything we saw.


HP Spectre 15 x360 with AMOLED display

When it unveiled the Omen 15, HP thought it was announcing the first ever laptop with a 240Hz display. That wasn’t quite the case (more on that in a second), but it was an impressive reveal nonetheless. The Omen 15 (above) will ship in July with a 15.6-inch, 1080p 240Hz panel with G-SYNC, an Intel i7-8750H CPU, 802.11ax wireless and NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics. All of that tech fits into a 5.2-pound body, so it’ll be a powerful gaming machine you can take anywhere. We haven’t heard the price yet, but cutting-edge tech usually ain’t cheap.

HP also announced that it would release the first 15-inch laptop with an AMOLED display, the Spectre x360. It will deliver 33 percent more colors than regular sRGB screens and boast a superb 100,000:1 contrast ratio. That will make it a great content creation PC, and it will also get a high-end Intel 8th-generation CPU and NVIDIA RTX graphics. If portability is more your jam than gaming, HP also released a 4K version of the Spectre Folio, a Surface-like laptop clad in leather rather metal.

Dell and Alienware

Alienware got the jump on HP by unveiling the m15 lightweight gaming laptop, which also has a 240Hz display and will arrive in March, ahead of the Omen 15. It will be lighter and more powerful thanks to a Core i9 CPU and GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, and weigh in at just 4.76 pounds. For content creation, it will also be available in March with an OLED display. The 17-inch, 5.8 pound Alienware m17 will be similarly equipped, but without the OLED and 240Hz display options.

Alienware took a walk on the wild side with the Area 51M. The 17-inch laptop is about pure power and versatility, giving enthusiasts the rare ability to upgrade both the CPU and GPU. You won’t need to do that for a while, though, as it already has stellar specs with Intel’s Core i9 CPU and an NVIDIA RTX 2080 GPU. The Area 51M will start at $2,549 when it arrives on January 29th.

Dell unveiled the latest XPS 13 model with a new design. The 13.3-inch will be available with a very bright (400 nit) 4K HDR display that supports Dolby Vision, a first for a Dell laptop. It has tiny bezels, weighs in at just 2.7 pounds, and can go up to 21 hours on a charge. If you’re looking for a bigger PC, the XPS 15 will soon pack an OLED display, HP said. The XPS 13 is available today starting at $900, but expect to pay more for the Dolby Vision model.

Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 laptop

For 2-in-1 fans, Dell unveiled its Latitude 7400. It’s the first model with Intel’s Proximity sensor that logs you in automatically when you approach the device. It’s tiny for a 14-inch laptop, weighing in at just three pounds, thanks to the tiny bezels and aluminum shell. It’ll start at $1,599 when it arrives in March, 2019.

Dell’s G-series gaming laptops got a huge boost, with the G7 15- and 17-inch models now packing NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics and up to Core i9-8950HK 6-core CPUs. They come with 144Hz 1080p displays and you can get the 15-inch model with a 4K 60Hz OLED touch display. The latest G5 15/15 SE models, meanwhile, pack up to 8th-gen Intel i7 CPUs and NVIDIA RTX 1070 Max-Q graphics. They’ll go on sale January 19th starting at $999 (G5 15), $1,099 (G7 15-inch) and $1,380 for the G7 17-inch laptop.


ASUS was the most prolific laptop maker at CES 2019 and the most experimental, to — even if it wasn’t an official exhibitor. It unveiled the ASUS ROG Mothership GZ700, a 17-inch laptop with a truly weird design. At the push of a button, a kickstand protrudes from behind the screen, and you can detach the keyboard completely, like a huge Surface Studio. It packs an Intel Core i9-8950HK CPU that’s overclocked up to 4.78 GHz, a 1080p 144Hz display with G-SYNC support, up to 64GB of RAM, and three 512GB NVMe SSDs. There’s no price or availability yet, but count on paying a bundle.

Still on gaming, ASUS turned to AMD for its latest TUF laptops. They pack four-core Ryzen 2 3550H APUs and Radeon RX 560X discrete graphics, which should make for decent mid-range performance. Both models have military-spec toughness, and will arrive sometime this quarter. We should know the pricing soon.

On the Chromebook side, ASUS unveiled its first Chrome OS tablet, the Flip C214, with a 9.7-inch QXGA display covered in tempered glass. It packs a rugged exterior, spill-proof keyboard and a 360-degree hinge. ASUS is also introducing the Flip C434 Chromebook with 360-degree hinge that converts into a tablet. It features a 14-inch NanoEdge display, an Intel Core i7-8500Y processor, plus a maximum of 8GB of RAM. Pricing for those Chromebooks has yet to be revealed, other than the Flip C434, which arrives later this year for $570.

The updated 13.9-inch ZenBook S has the “world’s slimmest” bezels, ASUS claims, at a mere 2.5mm thick. You can get it with an Intel Core i5-8265U or a higher-performance i7-8565U and up to 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM. Despite those decent specs, it weighs just 2.5 pounds.

ASUS unveiled a variety of VivoBooks in 14-, 15.6, and 17-inch sizes. They come with Intel Core i7 processors and NVIDIA GeForce MX130 graphics for light gaming, and can transform into tablets thanks to the 360-degree hinge. There’s no pricing or shipping dates for either the Zenbook or VivoBook models.

If 3D modeling or video editing is more your jam, ASUS unveiled the more serious-minded StudioBook S. The workstation-class machine packs a 16:10 17-inch Pantone-certified 1,920 x 1,200 display that’s essentially squeezed into a 15-inch body. And you can get it with professional parts, like a Xeon E-2176M 6-core processor and NVIDIA Quadro P3200 graphics, backed up by 64GB of RAM and 4TB of SSD storage. There’s no word on pricing, but it’ll ship in Q2 of this year.


MSI has been killing it of late, with last year’s MS65 laptop setting new milestones for lightweight gaming. It continues the trend at CES 2018 with the 17-inch GS75 and 15.6-inch GS75, with RTX 2080 Max-Q and RTX 2070 Max-Q graphics, respectively. The 15.6-inch model weighs just 4.19 pounds, making it one of the lightest gaming laptops you can get. If power is more important, however, there’s the GE75 Raider, with a desktop-class GeForce RTX 2080 GPU.


If small and light is what you need, how about this: Acer’s Swift 7 laptop has a 14-inch screen that’s bigger than the last model, but is just 1.9 pounds and 9.95mm thin. It’ll be able to take on most PC chores (other than heavy gaming or graphics), thanks to the 8th-gen Core i7-8500Y CPU, 512GB of PCIe SSD storage, 16GB of RAM and 10 hours of battery life. You’ll pay for those tiny bezels and slim form factor, though, as it’ll start at $1,699 when it arrives in North America in May.

On the gaming side, Acer flaunted its $4,000 Triton 900 laptop. The headline feature is the unusual hinge that tilts the 4K 17-inch screen in multiple ways, including a stylus-friendly stand mode. It also packs an 8th-gen Intel CPU and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080 GPU and up to 1TB of storage. The Triton 500 is a more conventional and much lighter 4.6 pound laptop that also has NVIDIA RTX 2080 graphics and a 8th-gen Core i7 CPU. The Triton 900 will arrive in March, while the Triton 500 arrives in February starting at $1,799.

Getting away from Windows laptops and Intel chips, Acer also revealed the Chromebook 315, its first with an AMD chip. It comes with AMD’s A4 or A6 dual-core processors with integrated Radeon graphics, so it should have enough power to run Chrome OS or Android apps. AMD chips are largely untested on Chrome OS, but considering it starts at $269 (and arrives in the US next month), the risk isn’t too great.


Lenovo’s Legion gaming laptops have retained the subtle design of the last models, but luckily, the performance is now drastically improved. The Y740 15- and 17-inch notebooks are now available with NVIDIA RTX 2070 Max-Q and RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, respectively, along with 6-core Intel Core i7-8750H 6-core chips and up to 32GB of ram. The 15-inch Legion Y540 packs a still-respectable RTX 2060 GPU and affordable $930 price, while the Y740 will cost $1,750 and $1,980 for the 15-inch and 17-inch models, respectively, and arrive in February.

And while it’s not a laptop, Lenovo’s 27-inch Yoga A940 all-in-one is a serious rival to Microsoft’s Surface Studio and costs hundreds less. It works with Lenovo’s Active Pen Stylus and has a tilt-able display for graphics artists and designers. The hinge-mounted Precision Dial lets you swap tools and adjust brush sizes. You get a 27-inch 4K display, Intel Core i7 CPU and AMD Radeon RX560 graphics for $2,350 when it arrives in March.


If you’re looking for something between a notebook and tablet, Samsung unveiled the Notebook 9 Pen. As the name implies, it’s all about the S Pen stylus, for artists and students who need to sketch or take notes on the go. It’s pretty powerful for its petite 2.2 pound size, packing an Intel Core i7 chipset, up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 13.3-inch 1080p display. There’s no price or shipping date yet.

Samsung has never quite got gaming laptops right, but it’s giving it another go with the Odyssey. It boasts very decent specs, running up to RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, a 15.6-inch 144Hz 1080p screen with G-SYNC and up to 16 GB of RAM. However, most other gaming laptops can do that now, and the Odyssey is a bit, well, homely. It also weighs in at slightly chunky 5.2 pounds. The price has yet to be determined, but it should arrive in early 2019.

The rest

LG’s Gram defies convention for 17-inch laptops thanks to its thin profile and incredibly light 2.95 pound weight. With an Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, nearly 20 hour battery life and a 512GB SSD, it’ll make the ideal multimedia machine, letting you watch movies all day long. Lightweight and thin comes at a price: $1,699 when the Gram arrives later this year.

Origin’s EVO16-S is a 16-inch gaming laptop that weighs a remarkable 4.5 pounds, lighter than many 15.6-inch models we saw at CES. Performance won’t be a concern, as it boasts a 6-core Intel i7-8750H CPU, NVIDIA RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics, 1080p 144Hz screen and up to 32GB of RAM. The 17-inch EVO17-S packs similar specs and weighs 5.5 pounds, but if you need more grunt, the EON17-X’s Intel Core i9-9900K desktop 8-core CPU and NVIDIA RTX 2080 GPU will do the job. Pricing or availability has yet to be revealed.

Gigabyte has an interesting gimmick this year for its Aero 15-X9 and all-new Aero 15-Y9: It uses Microsoft’s Azure AI to optimize gaming performance. If you don’t care about that, both models are spec’d to the gills, with up to an i9-8950HK 6-core chip, 15.6-inch 4K X-Rite Pantone certified panel, GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q graphics (RTX 2070 Max-Q on the Aero 15-X9), 64 GB of RAM and two M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD slots. All of that is packed into a 4.4 pound laptop that won’t weigh you down. Pricing and availability are not yet available.

Follow all the latest news from CES 2019 here!

Steve should have known that civil engineering was not for him when he spent most of his time at university monkeying with his 8086 clone PC. Although he graduated, a lifelong obsession of wanting the Solitaire win animation to go faster had begun. Always seeking a gadget fix, he dabbles in photography, video, 3D animation and is a licensed private pilot. He followed l’amour de sa vie from Vancouver, BC, to France and now lives in Paris.







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