The curtains closed on the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show this past Friday, as the last of the remaining 3,500-odd exhibitors packed up their wares and filtered out of the Las Vegas Convention Center and Sands Expo. CES 2019 was jam-packed with announcements from the likes of Samsung, LG, Sony, and Vizio, many of which shared a theme: support for Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.
By way of compatible products, it might be argued that Google and Amazon had a larger presence at CES than ever before. Both certainly had impressive growth metrics to share: Google Assistant will reach 1 billion devices by the end of January, and more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices have been sold globally thus far.
The bulk of the new voice-imbued devices unveiled at CES were speakers, unsurprisingly, and security cameras — including a few from Amazon’s Ring. Other additions to the Google Assistant and Alexa families were … a little less conventional. So which were our favorites?
Without further ado, here’s a roundup of the Google Assistant and Alexa gizmos that caught our eye at CES 2019.
Samsung 2019 QLED TVs
Samsung kicked off CES 2019 with a bang — or rather, a gigantic television. At 219 inches, The Wall display is pieced together from modular MicroLED tiles, a nifty design that allows it to be reconfigured to any resolution, aspect ratio, size, or shape. However, with an as-yet-unrevealed (and sure to be prohibitively expensive) price tag, it’s not exactly practical for most people. Fortunately, the alternatives aren’t half bad.
Samsung’s 2019 QLED TVs boast improved color contrast, a higher maximum brightness, and an enhanced AI-driven upscaling algorithm compared to their predecessors. But perhaps their spotlight feature is support for both Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. When the new sets hit store shelves, you’ll be able to command them with the voice assistant of your choice — assuming there’s a smart speaker within range. Alexa and Google Assistant aren’t natively integrated with Samsung’s new televisions the way the company’s own Bixby is. Instead, speakers like Google Home or the Echo Dot liaise between you and the TV to adjust volume, toggle power, switch inputs, and launch apps.
Kohler Numi 2.0
Kohler’s new intelligent toilet listens to you. It really does. Thanks to Google Assistant, you can ask the Numi 2.0 commode — which commands a princely sum of $7,000 (or $9,000 in black) — to heat the seat, queue up a few jams via built-in Bluetooth speakers, and kick off cleansing and drying functions. Dynamic and “interactive” multicolored ambient lighting, which can be controlled through Google Assistant, also comes with the throne.
Whirlpool Smart Countertop Oven
The smart oven craze is as healthy as ever, as Michigan appliance titan Whirlpool demonstrated with its new Smart Countertop Oven. The countertop cooking gadget not only automatically recognizes food and adjusts the cooking time and temperature, it also plays nicely with Google Assistant and Alexa. Home gourmands can use the included smart food thermometer to check on entrees as they cook. And with the oven’s cooking status notifications, they never have to worry about burning dinner to a crisp again — or so Whirlpool claims. At $799, though, it’s certainly not the most economical way to roast a chicken.
Iconic Scandinavian brand Ikea unveiled a new lineup of motorized blinds at CES 2019, and as mundane as that might sound, these aren’t your mother’s window shades. The forthcoming Fyrtur shades — which launch in April for $119 — pack rechargeable batteries and feature a sunlight-blocking opaque design. They work with not only Google Assistant, but Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri through HomeKit. And for those mornings when you can’t muster the energy to shout at your windows, they can be commanded with an app for Android and iOS.
U by Moen
What’s better than a shower controller that adjusts water temperature to within a degree? A shower controller with a 5-inch LCD screen and cloud-based system that’s compatible with Google Assistant. Moen’s eponymous U by Moen will get Google Assistant integration in Q2 2019, with HomeKit support arriving in Q1. And it’ll work with Google Assistant routines, letting you trigger it to turn on simultaneously with connected light bulbs, motorized blinds, and other devices.
U by Moen is currently available as a two-outlet or four-outlet shower controller, starting at $1,160. An optional backup battery kit is sold separately.
KitchenAid Smart Display
Smart displays are a thing now, buoyed by Facebook’s Portal, Amazon’s Echo Show, and Google Home Hub. One of the newest is Whirlpool’s KitchenAid Smart Display, a Google Assistant display that follows on the heels of recent offerings from Lenovo, JBL, and LG. It’s water-resistant (IPX5) and boasts a 10-inch display and access to “exclusive” cooking content from Yummly — namely, personalized recommendations and video guides. Much like other Google Assistant smart displays, it’s able to set timers, show highlights from Google Photos albums, pull up recipes, convert units, queue up music, control smart home devices, and more.
C by GE Connected Lights and Switches
The more smart bulbs, the better. This year at CES 2019, GE joined the multicolor connected lighting club with the launch of an expanded C by GE lighting lineup. Its new 60-watt A19 bulb, BR30 recessed can, and light strip feature tuneable whites and millions of color options, and it can be controlled through voice, apps, routines, and schedules — all without a hub.
Also new this year from GE are smart switches that work with existing light fixtures and that can wirelessly communicate with each other to synchronize bulbs on different circuits. If those don’t float your boat, perhaps the new C by GE app and voice-controllable smart wall plug will, or GE’s new battery-powered motion detector with a built-in ambient light sensor.
Jabra Elite 85h
If you’re in the market for a new pair of headphones that work with Alexa (and Siri and Google Assistant), you’re in luck. Jabra took the wraps off the $299 Elite 85h headphones, which last up to 32 hours on a charge, pack 40mm custom-engineered speakers, and tap an eight-mic array to analyze their surroundings and optimize the volume and equalization levels. It automatically switches between three modes — “Commute,” “In Public,” and “In Private” — in order to deliver the best listening experience, Jabra says, and for noisier environments, there’s active noise cancellation on tap.
Lenovo Smart Tabs
A tablet that doubles as a smart display is a pretty darn clever idea — one we’ve seen before, in fact, in Amazon’s Fire tablet lineup. Now, other OEMs are getting on board. The tablets in Lenovo’s 2-in-1 Smart Tab lineup are the first pieces of third-party hardware to support Amazon’s Show Mode. When placed in the included Lenovo Smart Dock, they transform into fully featured Alexa-compatible smart displays with full-screen visuals. Say the magic words and the slates will pull up footage from your home security cameras, highlight upcoming calendar events, show the day’s weather forecast, and more. Three far-field microphones ensure the Smart Tabs hear you from afar, and the dock’s embedded speakers (tuned by Dolby) provide enhanced sound.
LG Signature OLED TV R
LG announced plenty of products at CES 2019, including new 88-inch and 65-inch 8K televisions — the former with a Dolby Atmos-tuned sound system embedded into the display. But by far the most eye-catching item on display was the Alexa- and HomeKit-compatible LG Signature OLED TV R with a flexible, razor-thin screen that rolls up inside a base. It can be partially unfurled in what LG calls Line View, an ultra-wide canvas for digital clocks, weather forecasts, photos, and ambient colors. And when it’s rolled up and tucked away, the TV’s base — which packs 4.2-channel, 100-watt front-firing speakers — doubles as an Alexa-compatible, Dolby Atmos front-firing soundbar.
Petcube Bites 2 and Play 2
There might be no better way to check in on Fido while you’re away than with the second-gen Petcube Bites and Play, pet cameras that keep your furry friends fed and entertained with treats and laser pointers. Their dual wide-angle, 180-degree cameras give you an unencumbered view of what’s going on at home, and the four-microphone arrays pick up Alexa commands like a pro. The Bites 2 and Play 2 can capture 1080p clips with up to 4 times digital zoom and night vision and can facilitate two-way video calls triggered by proximity sensors that detect when your good boy’s sitting in front of the camera. An optional $10 Petcube Care cloud storage adds Smart alerts, which use AI to distinguish between cats, dogs, and people and offer audio recognition of barking and meowing.
The Bites 2 and Play 2 will go on sale for $249 and $199, respectively. Both will be available in spring 2019.
Bonus Round: Roland Go Piano
A MIDI keyboard with Alexa? Yep, that’s a thing, thanks to the innovative folks at Roland. The Go Piano offers hands-free control via Amazon’s voice assistant and the new Roland Alexa Skill. One particularly nifty feature has the keyboard play along with you as you learn; Alexa takes half of the keys while you take the other. Another neat feature? The Go Piano provides access to a library of songs and the ability to share recorded clips with family.
Mum’s the word as far as a launch date is concerned, but it’s expected in stores by late 2019.
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