One Week Later: Seven Observations From CES 2021

It's one week after CES 2021 ended, and I believe I've got some handle on what happened and what mattered. With that, here are seven quick observations from the show.

1) Though all-digital CES wasn't the same as the "normal" physical show in Las Vegas, I believe the CTA did a very good job of making the show effective. Part of the way they did this was to have familiar scheduling and events. Press day had the same basic order that it usually does and many of the keynotes were repeat companies from previous years.

2) All of that said, many products are tough to demonstrate virtually. For example, we had to take the word of LG, Samsung, and Sony that their new 8k televisions are even better than last year's versions—there's no way to tell over a compressed HD connection. I had even more pity for high-end audio companies.

3) I was surprised by how many car manufacturers were participating in CES until I remembered that there have been no auto shows for almost a year. GM's Mary Barra had one of the keynotes, while Mercedes-Benz had a press conference slot on press day. FCA, Nissan, and Toyota were all present in some capacity, along with many component suppliers. We'll be covering mobility in more detail in a separate article.

4) AMD continues to impress while Intel remains relatively quiet. For the second year in a row, AMD CEO Lisa Su introduced a slew of new products at CES, with the highlight this year being mobile versions of the Ryzen 5000 processors. Meanwhile, Intel decided to make news during CES by firing its CEO—making it obvious why he hadn't been at either of their press conferences two days prior.

5) Almost nobody is traveling, but notebooks are still being released. Razer introduced the newest versions of their Blade 15 and Blade 17 gaming notebooks, which offer NVIDIA's extremely highly rated GeForce RTX 3080 graphics card—as a colleague of mine stated, the Blade is what you'd get "If Apple made gaming laptops." Perhaps the most notable mainstream notebook introduction was Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga—featuring a 3:2 display and at 0.4 inches, the thinnest ThinkPad ever.

6) CES retained its share of jaw-dropping moments. Sony doubled down on its VISION-S concept car, showing it with the brand new Airpeak drone, which is allegedly the smallest drone that can carry an Alpha series camera. Meanwhile, LG introduced a bendable 48-inch television aimed at gamers.

7) Amidst all the changes, there was still room for what I call "clever, clever, clever." I particularly like Typewise's honeycomb keyboard for smartphones—soon to be in version 3.0. I also like Pioneer's modular in-dash automotive receiver, which solves many mounting problems. Finally, I'm a big fan of Viewsonic's new monitors with modes that assist with accounting for color blindness.

What did you take away from CES 2021?