CES 2017: Who will be the Celine Dion of gadgets?

LAS Vegas knows how to turn on the 'whoa', especially as the sun goes down.

And that's exactly what CES 2017 promises to do as sport stars, big-time film actors and even YouTube celebrities turn out to promote technology in the next few days.

Walking through the streets of Vegas ahead of the world's biggest consumer electronics show, you can see a lot of parallels between tech companies and Vegas attractions.

There are some that are big, bright and beautiful like a good LCD or OLED television screen from the likes of Samsung, Sony or LG.

Mark Furler

The giant Fashion Show screens, which sit somewhat awkwardly below Trump tower, command your attention from a huge distance.

They are the latest, the greatest and draw you right into the action - a shopping mall keen to suck out every last dollar from your wallet.

Mark Furler

But just across the road, with Frank Sinatra songs from a bygone era, water dances in its simplistic beauty near the waterfalls of the Wynn Las Vegas.

It's a flashback to simpler times.

And then the city's constant push slams you back to reality - like a cold concrete pavement at the end of a hard night. 

Anyone for a Nokia phone? Or perhaps some handcrafted Thiel loudspeakers out of Nashville?

Technology vs art

At the Palazzo and Venetian, where the other half live and stay, the paintings on the ceilings are a reminder that technology, for all its advancement, struggles to trump the human triumphs of gifted artists.

Mark Furler

Tech fans might argue though that the appeal of a perfectly curved screen is art in itself.

And of course, there are the pretenders, the wannabe New York shops, gondola rides from Venice, and Mexican City soul food.

Mark Furler

Perhaps these represent the multitude of copies, clones and cheaper alternatives that are part of a thriving tech industry.

When you think there are some 3800 exhibitors at CES 2017 - and more journalists covering them than the Olympics - you understand how they fit in.

While brands like Samsung, Sony, LG and Panasonic have been leaders in television, there are more affordable alternatives like Hisense that promise 4K television for hundreds, rather than thousands of dollars.

What is clear, however, is that it's not just about the TV display any more.

Mark Furler


It's about the way it integrates with other devices, pulls in services like Netflix, as well sound bars, high definition blue ray players - the things that give you a truly cinematic 'whoa' experience.

Brands like Apple and Samsung, and Telstra TV in Australia, know they have to make watching an array of content simpler.

The battle for market share has seen some big price drops in the competitive TV market, as evidenced by the sort of retail deals that are being offered on the TVs that featured in last year's CES show.

The competition is not only fierce in television, but also in smart accessories, tablets, laptops and now virtual reality.

Lenovo making its own VR headset

Lenovo is developing its own brand of virtual reality headset for the Windows Holographic platform.
It is said to be lighter than the HTC Vive or Oculus Rift could come under $US400.

When it comes to the phone market, Samsung will unveil new models both at CES as well as Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where it very successfully launched the Galaxy S7.

That event, of course, was overshadowed by widespread reports of the Note 7 exploding because of battery overheating problems.

While in Vegas, the good people at Samsung might want to enlist the services of the Houdini magic shop and make that nightmare disappear.

According to reports, Samsung will reveal the findings of its Galaxy Note 7 probe this month with suggestions it will hit the tech giant's profit by a whopping $5 billion.

One of the big issues in the tech world is there is an insane rush to come out with the newest technology ahead of the competition.

The reality is that there will always be glitches but the damage done to Samsung has been particularly painful, particularly after earlier problems with its washing machines.

It's a pity, given that they have produced some of the best phones around with the S7 Edge still one of our top choices of 2016, along with the iPhone 7 Plus and Huawei P9.

In coming days, there will be plethora of announcements from tech companies promising to match the wow of Vegas.

BANG Showbiz

Whether they are as long lasting as a Celine Dion or Elvis Presley tribute show is yet to be seen.

The writer is covering CES 2017 as a guest of Samsung Australia in Las Vegas.

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