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All about CES 2017: Day 1In a supersized edition of The 3:59, CNET's Iyaz Akhtar joins Roger and Ben to break down the biggest CES stories, including Alexa everywhere and LG's awesome television.
[MUSIC] Hello everybody and welcome to the cnet stage at CES 2017. Today you're in for a Retreat. I'm Issac Turner I'm joined by Rodger Chang and Ben Fox Rubin for a special super sized edition of our bite sized news podcast at 3:59, if you're new to the show. Rodger and Ben break down the most important tech stories in about four minutes. Today we're gonna talk a lot longer about the consumer electronic show because that's where we are. Ben you seem to have some kind of smart coffee cup or thermos, what is that over there? Yes its quite delicious its filled with coffee, yeah this is an Lenovo smart assistant, it was announced a couple days ago and this is essentially an Amazon Echo but from Lenovo, its got the Alexa smart AI inside and you're gonna be able to do a lot of the same stuff that you would be able to do with an Echo but this is provided by Lenovo. I have to ask Why not just get the [UNKNOWN]? So the pricing is a little bit different. This thing starts at 129 so the Echo starts at about 179 or 180 so they make the pricing a little bit different. Also its got a bit of an interesting different look to it. It looks a little bit more like a Google Home down here but on top of that. Amazon wants to do this, and Lenovo wants to do this to try to sprinkle Alexa everywhere. Like all over the place, so Lenovo was interested in bringing Alexa to more places, and Amazon was more than happy to do that. We've seen this at the show, all over the place, whirlpool did an integration with their appliances, Ford just announced that they're adding Alexa into their automotive stuff Mittel I think did like a smart baby monitor that's gonna help lower your kid to sleep. [UNKNOWN] [CROSSTALK] We have on our side a breakdown of all of the elastic connected stuff whose got the C by GE lump, [CROSSTALK] Circular lamp, you've got speakers, you've got robot vacuum cleaners, Dish is integrating a [UNKNOWN]. Alexa is everywhere, and for the second year in a row, Amazon has really dominated the show without really having an official presence here, right? Yeah, and it's interesting to see how quickly this has actually happened, I mean home automation is something that's been discussed and considered for the past couple of years now, but there really hasn't been this platform. To really bring it all together. What was I supposed to do? Have 20 different remotes around my house that operate the lights and this thing or that thing or whatever? It's voiced or at least it's been voiced now and Amazon is really taking advantage and saying hey look, we're gonna do this, we're gonna be the main platform. And that's how you have things like this where Lenovo and a lot of these other guys. Are finding a way to get involved and get interested. One other thing that's interesting that Lenova told me is that this is really just a first step for them. They're interested in doing a lot more integration bringing Amazon and Alexa technology into more of their stuff. Let me ask you guys something. Why do you think Amazon's Alexa system is the one that's actually getting all the traction. There's Google home There's Microsoft Cortana and there' also people doing proprietary things like Samsung. They have [CROSSTALK] We've all kinda forgotten about something at this point. Why do you think it's Amazon cuz the thing is I believe they had something like 3,000 skills about six months ago now they've got 7,000 skills. Those are the [UNKNOWN] little voice app. It's like [UNKNOWN] He's got millions of echo, echo dot out there It was I believe the number one selling product on Amazon this holiday. My god was it ever? They sold millions of them including the Echo speakers. If I was a company looking to hitch my product to a digital assistant, I'm going to go with the one that's got the biggest broad space and right now that is Alexa. Sort of, right? I mean, a lot of people have iPhones. Right, the problem there is that. It doesn't work with a lot of these things. Exactly, so the problem there is Siri hasn't had as many integrations. And maybe Apple will do that, there have obviously been rumors that Apple is planning to come out with something like this, but it is just rumors at this point. And at this point, what is it, the Google Home just came out a couple months ago. So I think there's still gonna be a little more time before we end up seeing something that's gonna be a platform as big as Alexa. If anybody actually even does catch up. We'd definitely see some flexibility from Amazon, like letting a company like Lenovo essentially making an Echo clone. It's a smart speaker- Cheaper. From Alexa and it's cheaper. So they're not worried so much about Moving the hardware. They're like look use our service. That's what they're doing. Apple there's no way in heck they're going to do that. So let me bring up my favorite product and that is the LG Instaview refrigerator. A refrigerator. Refrigerator. Yeah. It is awesome. You knock on the touch screen. That goes transparent so you can see what's inside. You can ask it to order milk. You can buy directly from your refrigerator. It's pretty sweet. What's wierd is this fridge runs Web OS, that really old. Remember Web OS from the com days. LG bought it. It's in the fridge. But is also does have an Alexa assistant. You can ask it questions. And it's, it's overkill or is that cool? Yes, it's overkill. I have an Echo speaker in my kitchen. You don't need it now. How much is that fridge? Well, a couple thousand dollars. Can your Echo speaker keep mild cold? No, no it can't. There you go, there you go. No, it can not. All right, fine, check mate on that one. Speaking with I mean, Eligy I thought really wowed people with their press conference. Tons of great stuff, I think the most impressive product I've seen so far. Is the W television. Wait, before we get to to the W TV, I wanna talk a little bit more about this fridge here. All right. Now we had, Samsung last year was saying hey, we have this [UNKNOWN] hub, this giant touch screen in a fridge, it's gonna run Android. This is what they actually told me. It's gonna have Alexa, and then they backed off of both of those claims throughout the year They've bought Viv, that AI company that has ties to Siri, I think the creators of Viv made Siri. [CROSSTALK] And so they have their own thing. They lost Alexa to LG, essentially, which I think is really kinda interesting. Cuz Samsung has their own thing now, you have to say Hi Samsung to its Family Hub. They're also gonna play catchup now. I don't think they lost Alexa. I think they probably made a conscious decision, right? Samsung really likes to Work on their own proprietory stuff. They have Viv now and I imagine that in future versions of this Family Hub fridge you're gonna see Viv or whatever they're gonna call it. But you're right it's only a missed opportunity if they show right? If they come in and LG comes out with an Alexa power fridge and Samsung has nothing to show so. Samsung didn't really wow many people with their show. No there's definitely more of a Strange show for them but I guess you kinda had to, right? [UNKNOWN] they started off with a, not an apology, an acknowledgement of the Galaxy Note 7, of mess. Really what is that? I've never heard of that phone? You've never heard of the Galaxy Note 7? I'm kidding, I'm kidding. It was a story that was blowing up everywhere- [LAUGH] The story, it was a big, big deal. It was a hot item for sure. All right just keep throwing the puns out there. Let's talk about that W television you wanted to talk about Rodger. That That television, it is 2.57? 2.57 millimeter thick. Right, inches, inches, 0.15 inches. There you go. It's like a couple coins stacked together which is amazing. The we have the video up for it. It doesn't do it justice. You really have to be there in person to appreciate just how thin this thing is. Look at that. And now we're just staring at the actual video, cuz we're so enamored at this. So, the actual screen is 2.57 millimeter stand- Yeah. Like we were saying. And the way you really see this In this video it doesn't do any justice. As you go around the corner and you see it kind of looks like the part of the wall cuz it's only about it's less than 4 millimeters away from the actual wall. They say the w kind of stands for wallpaper. The idea is this TV blends into your home, blends into the wall, gives it a sort of seamless experience. Very awesome for one percenters. So we're salivating over this thing, because it's probably the coolest thing that we've seen so far. [UNKNOWN] yeah, to see stuff like that, that's just cool. The 65 inch television weighs what is it, 18 pounds, it doesn't require any studs behind it to mount it, so you can put it anywhere which is nuts But they do have a ribbon cable to get the television attached to this big sound bar that has all the ports. That's the question, right, how do you connect all these power cords into this super thin computer or tv and they've got this really thin flat wire. Okay, so how do we actually make it better? I would recommend you be able to roll it up, put it in your pocket, bring it to your friend's house. So let's have LG work on that. I think that's next. It is. Foldable screens. They have been working on foldable screens. Even screens that This big, I think they're out. From a concept perspective, they're actually able to do it now. I was only half kidding, yes, we may actually end up seeing that. Yeah, 2027, probably. Walking around with just rolls of screens. [LAUGH] Rolls of screens. OLED screens, yeah. Put it on the wall. And this isn't a concept device guys, that W's gonna ship in March. Right. And LG hasn't gone with the price yet, although Cas was talking to them, Cas [UNKNOWN] our Or they're a TV guru and it turns out, it might be $2000 more than the most expensive thing that LG showed off last year. So the price we're looking at is potentially $10,000 and that's for the 65 inch version. If you want the bigger one cuz there's a 77 inch version. That might cost something about $25,000. Well I hope not. Get it in the New York Office. Yeah. So we can at least get a look at it. That will be a fun time. We're gonna just be like get out of the way I want to see it. We'll get no work done that day. Nice to know. Did you happen to see any BlackBerries while we were out here? Yes, much to my surprise, in this surreal moment found myself in a suite surrounded by BlackBerry products. You get teleported there? Yes, that's how I travel in Vegas, isn't that how you guys all get around? I'm working on that. So, yes. BlackBerry is once again making another comeback. Defies all logic. It should have been dead several times over yet it is back courtesy of a company that you probably know from television actually, TCL. TCL they make those awesome Roku tvs and actually Exactly. as an aside Rokus are a lot more than just TCL. I know that HiSense has one and Element. So are they making tvs, what are they doing now? So TCL also has a phone unit. It's known as alkatel. Most people don't really know what it is. It's really a budget phone maker. They really want to kind of break into the US market with a better brand. They're using Blackberry as the. Did you actually get to hold the device in your hand? How does it feel? Like, it's called the Blackberry Mercury, that's its code name, right? That's its code name. They actually don't have an official code name, they just said that's what the internet's calling it so that's what we're gonna call it for now I did get a chance to hold it. Build quality is great. It's metal, phone, it's a full screen, full touch screen and it's got touch, sorry, it's got a keyboard, actual physical keyboard underneath. Like the Passport, like the Crib you swipe through the keyboard. And navigates with that, so it's nice looking forward. [INAUDIBLE] fingerprint sensor, you know. How confident are you that this is gonna bring Blackberry back ,or are we gonna be back here next year talking about Blackberry's other comeback? Not at all. All right, let's just get that out there. These guys have a huge challenge, TCL or [UNKNOWN] You know they have a history of taking very little known brands and kind of propping them back up. Alcatel has actually done really well on the budget phone market. But this is a different beast, right. Blackberry has so much baggage involved that it's really hard to see anyone picking up these phones again. They say they're going to go after business customers first. Because they still have security down. That's one of the biggest [CROSSTALK] Blackberry. So they're going after banks, they're going after the government customers. A lot of folks who still use Blackberry. [CROSSTALK] core audience already, how are they actually gonna do that any differently? So, [CROSSTALK] They're gonna put more resources behind, at least from what they're telling me, there will be more resources, more effort put. The last year or two Blackberry kind of checked out when it came to the phone business, right? Mm-hm. They were really focused On transforming themselves into a software and security business. And on the hardware side, they're like, yeah we still have that, but eh. But what do you think CCL's part is in this thing? Because why would they bother to get in bed with BlackBerry, other than the fact they just needed the money, but why would they bother to be with this? They could be making their own. Ready to do [UNKNOWN], why would they bother with BlackBerry at all? Well, if you look at it, no one knows what Alcatel is. No one knows what TCL is. People at least know what Blackberry is, it's a brand. Awareness is not an issue. It might not be- Wouldn't it be easier to bill TCL that to go, hey, remember Blackberries and have remember Berries for that? Well look, this is the same company that also bought the Palm brand and done nothing with it. But they did buy it two years ago at CS. Who bought it? TCL. My gosh. I didn't know that either. They didn't do anything with it. That's why you don't know anything about it. Cuz the heart of palm was Web OS and then LG took it and palm is like, hey remember palm? It's just a name. So if you actually go to the URL it doesn't exist. Maybe TCL is just really nostalgic. The head of the CCL is just like, you know what, I like that. [INAUDIBLE] Basically TCL is a baby boomer Maybe they just wanted to buy a Blackberry. Like fine, we'll just get in bed with them. So this is an aluminum phone, it's supposed to have good keyboard. Yeah it's got the Blackberry keyboard. We're expecting an announcement or at least more information come over World Congress in February. And I don't know when it will actually ship but they promised they'll have a portfolio or a line up of products. So it'll be a high end, it'll be a low end version. sort of meet everyone's needs. But again, it's really for business customers. You're not going to see this in stores for a while if ever. It'll be sold directly though like an AT&T or Verizon. I bet when you went to the Blackberry thing, they didn't have barf bags available. Then, though, you were at the Intel keynote and I believe that in your leather comfy chairs with your headsets They offered you a barf bag to all the attendants. You've got to explain what's this about. Yeah they very delicately handed us barf bags. We walked in. This was a totally different kind of press conference than I've been before. You had these big, comfy black leather chairs and in front of them you had this high powered lap top with an Oculus rift VR headset on top. And they very delicately, walking around very delicately handed out certain material and right underneath was a barf bag. And they told you a couple of times ahead of time they were like we're gonna do a bunch of different VI demonstrations and if at any point you feel queasy or nauseous Fake the headset up immediately. Do not try to stand up and by the way we've got this just in case. Did anyone use the bathtub? I don't think anyone used the birth tag because the whole room would have hauled if that is in happening. So we're looking at video right now we were transported to Rolle Vietnam. What is particularly interesting about this video was That while you're in VR you could actually like stand up and kind fo look around what you were actually looking at. So it wasn't so much a static 360 image, but you could kind of look over or look around different things which requires this enormous amount of computing power. Because you're not just doing one 360 video, you're doing multiple 360 videos depending on where your head is. So people literally just started standing up and looking around. And just to kind of get an impression of what it was like. And it was kind of surreal to do that, I tried it out myself, too. [INAUDIBLE] This wasn't Intel's own project. They were using Oculus Rift for this specific demo but they also showed off their own concept. Called Project Alloy which is a cordless, all in one VR headset and they're hoping to come out with that with manufacturing partners, maybe sometime next year they request. They were claiming end of year, they were productizing it. I don't know what productize means. That means [INAUDIBLE] They said they would productize by the end of the year so The word is, if I was playing Scrabble it wouldn't count. No, it will now. When Intel CEO said it, it means it's a word now, so- It's actually a trademark, they've already coined the term. Right, but what's interesting about Project Alloy, it's supposed to enable this new idea called merged reality, where you take different things like let's say we've got the desk over here and the column over there. You go and you put on the Project Alloy headset and it integrates all the things in the real world Into a gaming environment or some other environment where, let's say we're in like an alien shooter game. We can actually hunker down behind this desk. Get up and start shooting the aliens in the audience or something. How is that different from Hololens which offers mixed reality? That's their term right? Very similar, very similar and you're absolutely right. Those are those terms. They're kind of interchangeable in many ways so. Right right. Yeah it was an interesting press conference. Yeah what I understood from what I saw. At least I watched the video, you were there. The difference between merge reality Intel's version versus Microsoft's augmented reality, mixed reality. Microsoft you could still see what's actually around you versus Intel what they would do like Ben is explaining. That it would take the physical objects in the room and just mask them essentially, so it would have the same height, so you're not running into this table when you're gonna go around shooting aliens, it'll change the coffee table to something else as well. Down [UNKNOWN] for being in a VR system, is whenever you're in the headset, you're constantly aware of All the obstacles around your leg, just sort of tentatively moving around your leg. I'm not gonna run into someone, am I gonna fall? Am I gonna trip? I was doing that last night. The Power Rangers VR experience. Okay, wait wait wait, a whole second track here. Power Rangers, you got to be a Power Ranger yesterday? I got to, I wasn't a Power Ranger but I got to fly the Zorg, the dinosaur T-Rex zord for about->> You were the red ranger in the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers. I was the red ranger. But from the movies, so he's all amped up. You're more emo you'd say? He's definitely, emo, it's a little bit more->> What did you do? What was in the->> I basically was in the cockpit of the zord. You kinda, you hear the red ranger talk about how powerful and awesome it is. [LAUGH] And then it flies up. And then when you think something cool's about to happen It ends. Please tell me was there anybody else in that experience that was more amped than you? Because you were just like, I'm the Power Ranger, really powerful. Actually, Brian Cranston was there as Zordon and he seemed actually less enthusiastic about it than I did. In person or like was he a virtual? Virtual, it was like Zordon's head but it was just like Brian Cranston's face. That's good. Weird, it was weird. That's like Walter White telling you that you have powers, wonderful. Right, I just kind of got thrown off by the Power Ranger thing, that sounds crazy. Yeah but I don't think. After the same deal as the position tracking I was actually able to move around and this was a wireless headset. I was able to get up, move around, duck, saw myself actually like ten feet away from the Power Rangers. And I can actually walk. Closer to them. So, it's actually a pretty cool experience. So the first that I might attribute, all right I said I was in a little apartment on a chair, I turned my head to see something else, and bonk, I hit the walls. So I do like the idea of intel actually saying hey, by the way, don't turn into that, because that's where I wore those [UNKNOWN] views. Well, it's an interesting idea of the merged and mixed reality, like what exactly is gonna come and acts with VR and AR, and how are we gonna integrate. I've heard this said So many times by different tech executives that the digital and the physical are merging together and these are the continuation of that. So we're going to see more of this as we move forward. And the last thing I liked about the Intel one is that you could actually see other players at the same time so you're not just by yourself, I really. Yeah, that's nice. Yeah, and it's less isolating. Yeah, that's a nice point. Yeah, that social aspect is really key. And we're going to have a lot more tomorrow, aren't we. All right guys. Absolutely. I hope so. So that's it, it's gonna wrap it up for us. You can find the 359 on iTunes, Sound Cloud, Google Play, and of course CNET.com. Of course. For the 359 [LAUGH] Podcast, I'm [UNKNOWN] I'm Roger [UNKNOWN] I'm Ben [UNKNOWN] Thanks for watching. [MUSIC]