Our CES 2021 Day 1 recap: Rollable phones, giant TVs and tech for the coronavirus era

LG has a phone with a sweet rolling display that will be released this year. Plus, air purifiers are so hot right now.

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Daniel Van Boom is an award-winning Senior Writer based in Sydney, Australia. Daniel Van Boom covers cryptocurrency, NFTs, culture and global issues. When not writing, Daniel Van Boom practices Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, reads as much as he can, and speaks about himself in the third person.
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Daniel Van Boom
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TCL's printed OLED scrolling display. 


Day 1 of the weirdest CES ever is complete. (Here's how to follow along for Day 2.) Instead of hundreds of thousands flocking to Las Vegas to see the biggest tech of the year to come, companies like LG , Samsung and more are hosting virtual press conferences. It's not quite the same, but thankfully there's still plenty of cool stuff for you to ooh and aah at. 

Even though Day 1 is over, there's still plenty of CES yet to see. The rest of the week bring press conferences and keynotes from the likes of Microsoft , Lenovo , TCL and Intel , then Thursday will bring Samsung Galaxy Unpacked. 

Read more: CES 2021's coolest new gadgets and Top 6 CES 2021 trends we're expecting to see

Keep rollin'

Phone makers are trying to figure out what to do next. There have been folding phones , like the Samsung Galaxy Fold , and companies across the industry are making a big fuss of 5G . Folding devices could still prove a hit and 5G will end up being worth the hubbub, but at CES two companies have shown they have another idea: Rollable phones. 

First up, LG showed off the LG Rollable at its press conference. Well, kind of. Video footage of the phone, being held in landscape mode as the display expanded and contracted like magic, bookended the press conference, though, in something of a flex, it was never actually acknowledged on stage. That usually screams "concept project", but not this time. The Korean company will release the phone later this year, according to people familiar with LG's plans

Read more: At CES 2021, rollable and foldable phones are a reason to get excited again

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The LG Rollable is a concept teased at CES 2021. 

Screenshot by Allyza Umali/CNET

LG isn't the only one keen to get rolling, as Chinese electronics company TCL followed on Monday with two rolling designs. One was a 6.7-inch phone that "with a tap of a finger" could extend out to 7.8-inches. The second looked far more futuristic:  A 17-inch Printed Flexible OLED Scrolling Display. The accompanying concept video showed the screen unfurling like a scroll, though it looks more like a proof-of-concept than an actual product.The tech can be "widely applied on flexible TVs , curved and foldable displays as well as transparent commercial display screens," said TCL innovation head Tiago Abreu. 

TCL said it would be releasing a phone with a "flexible" display in 2021, though it's unclear if that's a folding display or the rolling one shown at CES. 

Tech for our time

COVID-19 hasn't just made CES a virtual affair, it's also made CES a pitching ground for tech in the pandemic era. The most glitzy example thus far comes from LG, which debuted its latest InstaView fridge. New features on the 2021 model include UV light that eliminates "99.9%" of bacteria in the fridge's water dispenser and the ability to open via voice command. No touching required... until you get the snack you came for, at least. 

The South Korean company also gave a spotlight to its Puriview line of air filters , which range from big models for office spaces to the a portable air filter you can carry in a bag or backpack. There's also a battery-powered, air-purifying face mask

Watch this: LG unveils air-purifying gadgets at CES 2021

Other nifty air purifiers on show include the CleanAirZone -- which attempts to make purifiers go more green by cleaning the air using "natural biotics and enzymes derived from nature", theoretically resulting is less disposable-filter waste -- and the tiny Luftqi Luft Duo, an air purifier small and inobtrusive enough to be taken anywhere. The Game Boy of air purifiers. 

When it comes to smart cleaning, Ubtech's Adibot is the final boss. This isn't one you'd buy for your home (unless you have a spare $20,000), instead it's for schools and small businesses. It's a giant, cylindrical badass of a cleaning robot that uses ultraviolet light to cleanse rooms. If you are anxious to get some ultraviolet cleansing in your life, GHSP's Grenlite is tech that gives your car the UV treatment

On the more humble side, Alarm.com has a touchless doorbell.

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LG and Samsung TV wars

TVs are the heart of CES, especially the early days in the convention. Few things dazzle like a big, beautiful screen after all. Day 1 of CES had plenty of that, with the usual suspects in LG and Samsung showing off their ultra high-end stuff for 2021.

LG, king of OLED displays, unveiled its new OLED lineup, which includes four different models: A1, C1, G1 and Z1. (Hint, the further along the alphabet, the more you pay.) The crown jewel of the series is the Z1, which comes in either 77- or 88-inch varients -- yes, as in it starts at 77-inches. Both sizes come in 8K. No pricing yet, but last year's 88-inch LG display cost $30,000

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LG's OLED Evo family. 


But if bigger is better, the win goes to Samsung. It showed off a 110-inch 4K MiniLED TV, one that's expected to cost around $150,000, which also has smaller 98- and 88-inch variants. That's not exactly new though, as it launched in South Korea last month. Fresher to CES is an updated model of Samsung's popular Frame TV. With bezels designed to look like picture frames, this newer model is just 24.9mm thick -- around the same depth of an actual picture frame. 

The big two Korean electronics giants weren't the only ones to show off new TVs on Day 1 of CES, as TCL also announced its first 8K TV lineup. It'll be an updated version of the 6-series 4K TV -- one of CNET's favorites -- though the Chinese company has yet to announce the price. With TCL regularly undercutting LG, Samsung and Sony on price, it'll be interesting to see how low they can go for 8K. 


Samsung's Bot Handy can do put dirty dishes in a dishwasher or pour a bottle of wine. 

Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung is taking us to 2062

We're one step closer to The Jetsons. Samsung at CES unveiled three new consumer Bots, one of which can pour you a glass of wine. No flying cars yet, though. 

The first of Samsung's new robots you'll actually be able to buy is the JetBot 90 AI Plus, which does double duty as both a smart vacuum and a security camera for the home. Samsung said it'll be available in the first half of 2021. There's also the new Bot Care, an updated version of a robot Samsung showed in 2018, which is a companion and assistant. It can answer your questions, learn your schedule and send you reminders. 

Rounding out the trio is the Bot Handy, the aforementioned wine pouring machine, which uses AI to figure out how to hold different-sized objects and with how much force it should hold them. It's smart enough to help clean rooms and sort dishes, too.

Bridget Carey / CNET

A new take on board games

It's fun seeing the tech giants of the world pull out their big guns in an attempt to win the publicity arms race of CES, but some of the conventions most intriguing ideas come from the little guys. Infinity Game Table is one such intriguing idea: A touchscreen table that digitizes board games.

"Digitizes" doesn't really do it justice. You'll play board games on the table's 24-inch touchscreen and this can be done online, meaning you don't have to all be in the same room -- particularly useful, since large groups of people in the same room is off the cards for the foreseeable. You can also save a game half-way through, meaning you don't have to play all 45 hours of Monopoly in one go. 

CES 2021's coolest gadgets: Rollable phones, giant TVs, $16,000 bathtub and more

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Follow along with CNET's CES 2021 Day 2 livestream right here, and check out what's in store for Wednesday's CES lineup. Plus, here are all the Samsung Galaxy S21 rumors we've heard so far in advance of the Jan. 14 Galaxy Unpacked event.