The technology show CES 2021 had the usual high-tech parade of TVs, laptops, phones and robots, but masks made this year's event different. Here are some of the highlights of CES 2021, which ends on Thursday. AirPop says its masks have the bacterial barrier protection of medical masks but the comfort of consumer masks. The AirPop Active mask with four filters that last for 40 hours each is priced at $149.99. A detachable ventilator regulates airflow and a charging case is lined with a UV light interior to kill bacteria and viruses as the mask charges.
Samsung has unveiled its latest range of flagship smartphones, with three models ranging in price from £769 ($799) to £1,149 ($1,199). The S21 range from the South Korean tech giant features an entry-level model, the mid-range Plus, and the Ultra – which is the first S Series phone to be compatible with the Samsung's S-Pen stylus. The stand-out feature on all three devices is the upgraded rear camera system, which was heavily leaked ahead of today's announcement and features night and portrait mode as well as its 100x'space zoom'. Pre-orders of the handsets open today, and the phones will be available as of January 29. The Ultra also comes with S-pen compatibility, the first Galaxy device to do so.
O2 has rolled out its 5G network in 53 new towns and cities across the UK, pulling ahead of its rival EE to become the nation's biggest provider of ultra-fast mobile internet. The new locations include Birmingham, Durham and Portsmouth, bringing O2's total number of locations with 5G to 150. The network also allows for larger amounts of data to be transferred at once, which could one day help power technologies such as fully autonomous cars. O2 has rolled out its 5G network in 53 new towns and cities across the UK, taking it ahead of its rival EE to become the nation's biggest provider of the ultra-fast internet The network also allow for larger amounts of data to be transferred at once, which could one day help power technologies such as fully autonomous cars. For most consumers, 5G will allow you to carry out tasks on your smartphone more quickly and efficiently.
Google has completed its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, more than a year after the deal was first announced. The EU approved the acquisition in late December, clearing the way towards Google's ownership over what is perhaps the best-known brand out there for mainstream fitness-tracking devices. Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park reiterated in a letter today that Fitbit would continue to be device-agnostic, making products that work with both iPhones and Android devices. Both Park and Google's Rick Osterloh also reiterated that this deal was always about "devices, not data." That's shorthand for Google and Fitbit's pledge to keep user data private going forward; Park said that "Fitbit users' health and wellness data won't be used for Google ads and this data will be kept separate from other Google ad data."
The upcoming Cadillac Lyriq SUV is the first electric car for the Cadillac car brand, but it's the reimagined dashboard display spanning 33 inches across that attracts the most attention. Mercedes-Benz also has a massive 56-inch Hyperscreen that will be available soon in its first EV. These car screens and others introduced at the annual tech show CES feature a new user interface that looks more like a well-rendered video game than an infotainment display to turn up the heat or play a podcast. Past CES shows used to wow with announcements about bigger and bigger dashboard screens, but now it's about what's on them. The Lyriq's 33-inch LED display stands out on its own, but its graphics feel almost too sharp for a screen stuck in a car.
British illustrator and visual-effects director Gavin Rothery makes his feature debut with this artificial intelligence thriller: a tale of love, death and robotics that has some nicely creepy moments. Set in 2038, it centres on lonely computer scientist George Almore (Divergent's Theo James), who is holed up in a remote research facility in Japan secretly working on an android version of his wife Jules (Stacy Martin); she has died in a car crash. His prototype, J3 (also played by Martin), is his closest yet to the real thing: a highly advanced humanoid with spookily pale skin who looks like she might be the ghost of his dead wife. Poor old J1 and J2, his earlier, clunkier prototypes: they look on bitterly as the newer, sleeker model gets all George's attention. The movie opens with sweeping helicopter shots over a snowy forest.
As Wednesday draws to a close, so does a grand social experiment: the first-ever online-only CES. In the end, the experience was invariably different. We particularly missed being able to wander The Sands and have learn about smaller, up-and-coming startups. And if seeing is believing, the oddest entries at the show remained locked behind our computer screen, with no chance of getting hands-on time. And yet, we were kept busy this week. Most of the usual tech giants had news to share, and many of those were able to show us their wares in person, ahead of the three-day gadget extravaganza.
Say the word Apple today and we think of Steve Jobs' multi-billion-dollar technology company that spawned the iPhone and the Mac computer. But a decade before the California-based firm was even founded, Apple Electronics, a subsidiary of the Beatles' record label Apple, was working on several pioneering inventions – some of which were precursors of commonly available products today. Apple Electronics was led by Alexis Mardas, a young electronics engineer and inventor originally from Athens in Greece, known to the Beatles as Magic Alex. He died on this day in 2017, aged 74, and was one of the most colourful and mysterious characters in the Beatles' story. Dressed in a white lab coat in his London workshop, Mardas created prototypes of inventions that were set to be marketed and sold. These included the'composing typewriter' – powered by an early example of sound recognition – and a phone with advanced memory capacity.
We'll admit, we weren't entirely sure what to expect when we agreed to judge the annual Best of CES Awards without an in-person show. How many companies would show up to an online-only show? What would we lose without being able to wander the halls of a massive convention center and see the products up close? As it turns out, we needn't have worried. More than 1,900 brands, big and small, turned up this year, according to the Consumer Technology Association, the industry group that organizes the show each year. What's more, many companies found socially distant ways to show us their latest and greatest in person, ahead of the show. In the end, we had enough fodder for 14 categories covering hardware and services in every sector from home theater to transportation to accessibility tech. We'll announce the winners tomorrow at 4:30pm ET during a ceremony on our virtual stage, which we'll livestream to Engadget.com We're also continuing tradition and opening up voting for our People's Choice Award -- our reader poll is live now and closes tomorrow, ahead of the ceremony. Please be sure to vote, and congrats to all of the finalists! The technology underpinning the Mudra Band might seem fanciful: sensors capture neural electrical impulses in the wrist and map them onto specific movements like a swipe or a tap, essentially letting you control an Apple Watch with subtle finger movements on one hand. There's no doubt the benefit of convenience -- you can operate your watch when your hands are wet or dirty, for instance.
The last time I wasn't in Las Vegas for CES, the iPhone didn't exist yet. A virtual show means that this year the Engadget team is experiencing things more like our readers. The upside is that it's easier to get a broad view of everything going on, and I didn't have to figure out how to pack a PS5 in my luggage. The downside is I'm not seeing any sweet new TVs in person. It's the smallest of sacrifices, but being able to hop on live video and chat/argue with the team over our favorite picks is helping to fill the gaps.