AP/Julie JacobsonMembers of the media photograph an LG 105-inch curved Ultra HDTV at CES 2014 in Las Vegas. The year always kicks off with hype and promise when it comes to consumer electronics, and that’s why the annual Consumer Electronics Show rarely disappoints in unveiling new gear and gadgetry in early January.
This week’s show has seen several new products being introduced that may make a real difference. Let’s go over a few of the gadgets that are turning heads.
1. Ultra High-Def TVs with Curved Screens
Asian consumer electronics giants have been showing off their latest TVs during the show, and for LG and Samsung that has also included premium high-definition sets with curved screens. HD on flat screens apparently isn’t enough on either count, as companies embrace superior Ultra and 4K monitors that are four times sharper than the current generation of high-def TVs. Now we’re getting sets that curve like some movie theater screens to provide video watchers and gamers a more engaging peripheral-vision experience.
The LG Ultra HDTV and Samsung’s entry measure in at a room-dominating 105 inches. Neither company is ready to talk pricing on these curved screens, but it’s a safe bet that they will set early adopters back tens of thousands of dollars.
2. Sony Has its Head in the Clouds
Sony (SNE) has struggled with its money-losing TV manufacturing business for years, and it’s not the force that it was a decade ago in the realm of video games. Now the company is going to try its hand at improving its chances in both fields with cloud-based platforms.
Sony’s CEO announced that Sony will launch a Web-based TV service in the U.S. later this year. It won’t just take on Netflix (NFLX) with on-demand programming. Sony’s service will also offer live TV in streaming form.
On the gaming front, PlayStation Now will give players access to PlayStation games without having to own a PlayStation console.
3. A Sunny Day for Ford
One of the more head-turning products unveiled at CES was actually an entire car. Ford (F) has embedded solar panels onto a canopy above the car roof to create the C-MAX Solar Energi. Yes, it’s just a concept car. It’s also unfortunate that a full charge is only good for 21 miles. Ford is using solar power as an energy source (though the cars can be plugged in, too), but most drives will still lean on the car’s gas-propelled internal combustion engine.
However, it’s the first step in road-ready solar cars. Time will see photovoltaic cells become more affordable and powerful. This is just the beginning.
4. Chrome One, Chrome All
Toshiba became the latest PC maker to hop on Google’s (GOOG) Chromebook bandwagon. Following in the footsteps of the growing number of companies cashing in on Google’s freely available Web-based operating system, Toshiba’s Chromebook will hit the market for an affordable $279.
Outside of Google’s high-priced Chromebook Pixel, Chromebooks have been priced aggressively for mainstream consumption. Chrome is still not as popular as Windows or Mac OS, but it’s gaining ground as new hardware partners set their sights on consumers who need laptops merely to go online and perform Web-based tasks.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Ford and Netflix. The Motley Fool recommends Ford, Google, and Netflix. The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford, Google and Netflix.