Attending CES is like grocery shopping. Except, you don't know what you're shopping for and you don't get to eat until at least 6 months from now. Walking onto that convention show floor unprepared is not a risk we're willing to let you take.
Now that CES occupies two huge convention centers -- Tech East and Tech West -- sifting through hundreds of booths to find the good stuff is doubly challenging.
For the fourth year, we did the walking (and talking, and demoing, and filming) for you in search of the creme de la creme of 2016. The self-guided tours, outlined here, are designed to loop you around the convention center floors while giving you a look at exciting products and trendy product categories.
If you're at the show, and you'd like to say "hi" in real life, stop by our booths at Tech East and Tech West.
Tech East (Las Vegas Convention Center)
1. Parrot. Drones are everywhere at CES this year. Parrot unveiled its flashy looking Disco project which features a winged design. The unique look sets it apart from the more traditional quad rotor design of many drones. (South Hall, 30209)
2. Huawei. This Chinese company has been trying to get a real foothold in the United States market. It recently partnered with Google to produce the Google Nexus 6P -- a phone that successfully raised its profile. Huawei also has a phone, the Mate 8, that in our tests lasted 15 hours. Additionally, the company makes some of the best looking Android Wear watches. (South Hall, 30215)
3. Razer. Razer shows off some very cool tech every year. Not all of it make it to the market, but Razer's got a new version of its laptop. The new Razer Blade uses Thunderbolt 3.0 to connect to an external graphics card and docking station. So if you want thin and light, but still want power -- this might be the perfect combo.r smartwatches you can buy. (South Hall, 30225)
4. Applied Minds. This should be one of the more unique demos you'll see at CES 2016. It first made news last year, but the Genworth R70i is an exoskeleton and augmented reality suit. It actually simulates what it is to age. Different settings will let the wearer experience vision issues, mobility loss and even hearing impairments. (South Hall 3, 30225)
5. Lots and lots of drones. The beginning of the "Unmanned Systems" section of CES 2016. DJI is one of the better known manufacturers of drones. Looking around, you'll see there are tons of choices. (South Hall 2, 25602)
6. Rise of alternate realities (Oculus and Avegant). There is now a dedicated section for all the virtual reality tech and augmented reality you could want. Oculus will actually take pre-orders for its VR headset (pricing not known until Jan 6, 8 a.m. PT). Avegant is showing off its Glyph headset that projects video onto your eyes (you're not looking at screens). (South Hall 2, 26002 or 26033)
7. Intel. Intel is pretty much in everything this year. You can try on a number of wearables powered by Intel including the pricey Tag Heuer Connected watch ($1,500). Intel's tiny computing platform known as Curie is also in some diverse products. There's one attached to a BMX bike that gives all kinds of metrics. Another is attached to a dress that can change form based on body temperature. And of course, you'll find lots and lots of computers powered by Intel including a brand new version of its Intel Compute Stick. It's a full Windows computer in a tiny package. (Central Hall, 7252)
8. Samsung. It's got a massive booth and some intriguing new appliances. Check out the Family Hub - a new four-door refrigerator with a massive 21-inch Android touchscreen on the front. Inside are cameras that take pictures of what's in your fridge when you open the door so you can always know what you have. It even supports Amazon's Alexa assistant, so you can talk to your fridge.
Samsung's also got a new PowerBot robot vacuum that maps out your home. The benefit? You can actually tell the PowerBot to clean certain areas of the house using an app. Of course, there are amazingly thin TVs, a brand new Windows tablet called the Galaxy TabPro S with a 12-inch AMOLED screen and everything else Samsung makes. (Central Hall, 11906)
9. Sony. Sony shows off its new TVs with HDR. That's high dynamic range and that lets you get really great color and contrast. Unlike some other alphabet soup technologies, HDR has CNET editors excited because it actually makes the picture look better. Additionally, Sony's got its PlayStation VR headset around -- but it might not be easy to get access to it. (Central Hall, 14200)
10. Ford. Cars are getting smarter all the time. Ford partnered with Amazon so its assistant, Alexa, can help you out whether you're in the car or at home. You will be able to ask Alexa to start your car or take on home automation when you're out. (North Hall, 2122)
Tech West (Sands Expo)
1. Segway (Ninebot). Segway is snapping back at "hoverboard" makers with the Ninebot Mini. It's self-balancing, includes turn signal lights, and sports a handle for easy carrying and pulling. But the most compelling part about the Mini is the built-in robotics powered by Intel. Once it's ready, you'll be able to attach a robot head -- literally -- to the Segway and use it like a personal robot. (Booth #72145)
2. Krush (ooVoo). Take a look at where VR is headed. Krush -- owned by video chat app and platform ooVoo -- is demoing Moveo, a VR simulator running Oculus Rift. The simulator rotates on 3 independent axis points and responds to the user's in-game actions -- which you can climb into an demo at the show. There is an open SDK, so game makers can also develop games for the simulator as it becomes available. (Booth #71757)
3. Smart Home everywhere. Last year, Tech West was all about the introduction of more smart home devices. While there's still plenty of that at this year's show, the focus has shifted to smart home device platforms -- that is, designing products that work with other branded devices. Check out Vivint, which announced its smart home devices will work with Nest and Amazon Echo, so you can tell Alexa to lock the door or shut off the lights without getting off the couch. (Booth #71757)
4. Bosch. Bosch's lawn mower is like a Roomba for your lawn. The robotic mower autonomously mows the lawn when the weather conditions are right and the grass is dry, so you can return from vacation to a perfectly-manicured lawn. The device claims to be 30 percent faster at mowing the lawn versus other available robotics.
While you're there swing by the BB8 demo, which uses Bosch's MEMS technology. There's also a bike handlebar that tracks rides, as well as a full-fledged smart home setup built around Bosch's ecosystem. (Booth #71517)
5. 3D Systems. This is the best place to get an overview of the many ways 3D printing can be used at home, by companies like New Balance, and even in the medical field. (Booth #72721)
6. ShotTracker. Don't miss this demo, which includes a half basketball court setup. Spalding and ShotTracker partnered to create a basketball with an integrated tracker. Players wear sensors on their shoe or wrist that connect with the ball to provide real-time tracking data, so that players and coaches can better analyze their game. The company is focused on bringing the tech to pro teams and schools, but will also have a consumer product in the works. (Booth #74212)
7. Under Armour. For those who want to track their runs, but don't want to adopt a wrsitband, Under Armour's shoes (SpeedForm Gemini 2 Record Equipped) are running shoes with smartphone-connected tracking. Under Armour also partnered with HTC to create the HealthBox -- a $400 kit for fitness tracking that includes a scale, fitness band, and heart rate monitor. (Booth #74316)
8. Misfit. It took a long time to get here, but good-looking wearables and smartwatches are finally a thing. In addition to the new, stylish Misfit trackers, Fossil (which now owns Misfit) is showcasing its third incognito smartwatch. The watch stylishly masks a slew of tech, which tracks your fitness and displays notification alerts. (Booth #73923)
9. LifeFuels. Smarts aren't just for the home. This smart water bottle is aimed at getting you to drink more water and take your vitamins, too. (Booth #74724)
10. Tipron (Cerevo). Want a personal robot? How about one that doubles as a mobile projector? Made by Japanese company Cerevo, Tipron is a personal robot with a built-in projector that displays videos (from sites like YouTube), your Twitter feed, and news updates. The robot can be taught to memorize rooms in your house, so -- barring any stairs -- it can roll to a room on command and start projecting. You can wake up to news being projected on a ceiling, or enjoy a movie anywhere in the house. But the $1000-2000 price point -- and the sheer bulkiness -- is an example of how we have a ways to go before robots invade our homes. (Booth #74538)
11. PowerUp. While the major drone makers can be found in Tech East, this smaller company is showcasing a drone that can also livestream video to services like Periscope and Meerkat. The drone -- which was designed in partnership with Parrot and launched on Kicstarter -- takes off on its own (which eliminates one of the bigger hassles of operating a drone) and is then controlled through the app, Google Cardboard, or can be set to autopilot mode. (Booth #74647)
Add-on: May want to discuss the FAA's recent requirement that consumers must register their drones. Plus, other things in store for drone tech, like deliveries.
reading•Take a tour of CES 2016, CNET-style
Oct 14•CES is slowly morphing into the Las Vegas Motor Show
Sep 19•Nikon KeyMission 360 camera arrives in October for $500 and it's bringing friends
Aug 23•Parrot Disco fixed-wing drone priced at $1,300, lands in September (hands-on)
Jun 23•Waterproof Bluetooth speaker plays louder, but sound quality takes a step back