Our editors have been hard at work the past few days finding the latest and greatest gadgets here at CES 2019. Now, after a long and arduous debate, we're ready to announce our finalists for the official Best of CES awards. Below you'll find our selections for all 15 categories, which range from best wearables to the most impactful products we've seen at the show. We'll announce our category winners tomorrow, which is also when we'll reveal our Best of the Best award recipient, the most coveted prize of all. That special award is selected from our pool of category winners.
If you want your voice heard too, no worries! There's an additional category for the People's Choice, where you can vote for your favorite entry from our compilation of finalists. Just head on over to our poll to vote, and the one with the most votes will win our special People's Choice award. All award winners will be announced at a ceremony tomorrow at our CES stage, so be sure to come back right here on Engadget around 5PM PT/8PM ET Thursday to watch it all unfold.
Best Accessibility Tech
The Gait Enhancing Motivational System (or GEMS, for short) is Samsung's conceptual line of assistive wearables. The biggest of them all is the GEMS-H, a lower-body exoskeleton. Weighing in at 4.6 pounds, the GEMS-H is light enough to be comfortable to wear, and has two primary modes. Power assist lets you walk with 23 percent less effort, while resistance is intended to help rehabilitate you after an injury (or provide a gentle workout).
Whill makes a number of highly rated electric mobility vehicles, and this year it's improving on its formula with autonomy. Whill ADS (autonomous drive system) uses front- and rear-mounted cameras to navigate indoor and outdoor spaces by itself. Much like a Tesla, it can also be summoned to carefully pick you up and avoid potential hazards along the way.
Neofect appeared in this category last year with a prototype, but since then there's been a successful Indiegogo campaign, and the NeoMano should be ready to ship this June. The NeoMano is a soft robotic glove that empowers people with hand paralysis due to spinal cord injury (SCI), stroke, Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS), multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy and nerve injury. When activated, the glove allows paralyzed users to pick up everyday objects with the touch of the button.
Korean startup Neofect is best known for its NeoMano glove, and a recent crowdfunding campaign has brought the company's flagship wearable even closer to market -- not to mention the patients who need it. That said, this startup has a solid track record of developing elegant (and sometimes even charming) hardware with the potential to make physical and cognitive rehabilitation less daunting.
We've seen mixed reality headsets before thanks to Magic Leap and Microsoft, but Chinese startup Nreal pulled off something big: It made one that doesn't look terrible or awkward. Of course, that wouldn't count for much if the company's Light headset wasn't impressive in other ways. Fortunately, it's packed with cameras and sensors for accurate inside-out tracking, while the 1080p laser projectors make for a surprisingly crisp image. The best part: You can add prescription lenses, just for good measure.
The cars of the future will be intelligent, autonomous and who knows what else? All those advancements don't do much for the cars we already own, though, and that's where FenSens comes in. The San Francisco-based startup has developed a rear-mounted aftermarket sensor that warns when something -- or someone -- gets too close to your car. Installation is dead-simple too, and audio, visual and vibration alerts mean your old car gets to be nearly as smart as new ones.
Thanks to the power of echolocation, Toposens' reasonably-priced 3D ultrasound sensors can accurately detect and track objects around them. That's obviously a crucial skill for self-driving cars, robots and even some smart home devices and this startup's approach means the machines that use these sensors don't need to worry about power consumption or poor visibility.
Best Digital Health and Fitness Product
Looking after your heart is fast becoming wearable technology's key feature. This year, Withings managed to add an ECG to its line of lightweight analog fitness-tracking watches. The fact that the company is charging only $130 for it is staggering, especially if it makes a positive impact on your health. And that's before we even get to the fact that its battery will last for a whole year.
Smartwatches these days pack a variety of health features like ECG and step-counting, but Omron breaks new ground with a mini blood-pressure cuff that sits under the strap. Anyone with hypertension can take blood-pressure readings across the day with the touch of a button. Importantly, the watch has also been cleared for use by the FDA.
Triple W's DFree is a portable ultrasound monitor trained on a user's bladder. Designed for people with incontinence -- like the elderly, disabled or infirm -- it sends alerts through an app to help users or caregivers plan their bathroom breaks. By removing the need for disposable diapers, the device is not just an added convenience, but potentially dignity-restoring (and environmentally friendly).
Willow made waves two years ago when it introduced its hands-free smart breast pump. It let moms pump milk without having to be tethered to a wall outlet. As a bonus, it didn't look like a torture contraption, either. The Willow 2.0 improves upon an already-good product by adding a handy quick-snap closure and a transparent flange for easier nipple alignment. There's also a window allowing mothers to see how much milk they've produced (a stat you can also find in the companion mobile app).
Mixed reality headsets can provide fascinating experiences, but they're not exactly subtle. Chinese startup Nreal has created an impressive set of mixed reality glasses. Now we're not calling it a headset -- this low-profile device looks and feels almost like ordinary sunglasses, so you can use them out in the open without getting too much attention. Better yet, the display quality is surprisingly good.
Omron Healthcare has been making quality home blood-pressure monitors for years, but at CES it showed off its first wearable. The HeartGuide is a watch with some basic fitness-tracking features that can also measure blood pressure on demand. The data are stored in HIPAA-compliant databases that you can share with your doctors, and the device needs to be recharged only two or three times a week.
Matrix took its battery-free smartwatch one step further by adding a solar cell to generate more power -- enough to run a built-in heart-rate monitor and GPS sensor. The Powerwatch 2 also comes with a full-color display (an upgrade from black-and-white on the last generation), and you'll still get the thermocouple tech that generates energy from body heat. At its $200 early-bird price on Indiegogo, it's an affordable, long-lasting timepiece.
Best Transportation Technology
The future of commuting will be airborne (if Uber has any say in the matter). The ride-hailing company has teamed with Bell Helicopter, along with five others, to develop the "Nexus" VTOL air-taxi concept. Capable of carrying up to four passengers, the Nexus represents a "major step" toward Uber's goal of rolling out an on-demand air service by 2023.
Reversing while towing a trailer is a nerve-wracking experience unless you have an extra set of eyes watching for obstacles. Valeo's Xtravue camera provides a second pair of eyes to everyone. Leveraging your vehicle's existing camera system to collect images from both the rear of the vehicle itself and the rear of whatever you're towing, the Xtravue provides drivers an unobstructed view of the road behind their trailer.
Mercedes is clearly on a mission to improve the technology in all its new cars -- with each unveiling, a new set of features appears. With the CLA Coupe -- announced here at CES -- there's a new version of MBUX (Mercedes' voice-centric infotainment system), a gesture-based interface and a new "energizing coach" that monitors your pulse and "relaxes" you via the car's mood feature. It's a smarter car that'll be on forecourts by the end of 2019.
Unlike cars, large semi-trucks don't have Level 2 driver's assistance features like adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist. Until now, anyway. The new Cascadia class 8 truck offers the features you've come to expect in passenger cars. The semi also has right-side blind-spot radar and automatic braking (when it detects a pedestrian). All of this is not only for the driver's safety, but also to protect people biking and walking around these 80,000-pound delivery vehicles.
Best Home-Theater Product
Last year, Sennheiser revealed it had packed its powerful Ambeo 3D audio tech inside a soundbar. This meant that technology typically reserved for AR/VR was on its way to the living room. Essentially, the company is replacing a 5.1 surround sound system with a single speaker, and it includes handy features like Chromecast built-in. The Amebo Soundbar also upscales stereo audio to 3D, so no need to worry about where your content is coming from.
Sony is steering the future of music by adding a spatial component to your tunes. In an attempt to put you inside the music, or at least make it seem like you're at a performance, the company is working on an MPEG-H 3D audio format for even more immersive sound. It'll eventually be available for both headphones and speakers, and you'll be able to stream it through services like Deezer and Tidal.
The P1 Smart 4K UHD Laser Cinema is not just a laser projector, as it combines Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice controls we've seen in previous Optoma units with a NuForce Dolby Digital 2.0 soundbar with built-in woofers. Simply find an empty wall and the P1 will project a 120-inch screen from "inches away" with 3,000 lumens of brightness. Plus, it's compatible with HDR10 and HLG-encoded content.
Not only is it reasonably priced, but the HDHomeRun SCRIBE DUO offers 150 hours of 1080i recording thanks to a 1TB hard drive. What's more, a year of free DVR service is included. The device also features two tuners, which means you can watch and record at the same time. Overall, it's a solid option for cord cutters who want to make sure they can watch their favorite shows or movies whenever they want.
Best Connected Home Product
The Lenovo Smart Clock is what would happen if you combined an alarm clock with Google Assistant. Essentially a pared-down Google Smart Display, the Smart Clock has a few features that elevate it above a normal time-keeper. It simulates sunrise to ease you from your sleepy stupor, and you can use it to control the rest of your smart home. Bonus: There's no camera, so no worries about privacy either.
It might seem odd to nominate a tablet for the connected-home category, except that this particular model converts into an Alexa smart display. On its own, the Lenovo Smart Tab is a regular Android tablet, but place it in a bundled smart speaker dock, and it suddenly becomes an Echo Show clone. It looks and sounds great, and you can get it for only $200. Two gadgets in one? Bargain.
There have been other Google Smart Displays, but with a name like KitchenAid behind it, you know this particular device is meant specifically to be in the kitchen. Not only is it one of a few 10-inch smart displays on the market, but it's also, yes, water-resistant, making it that much easier to rinse your greasy fingerprints off under the faucet. As a bonus, it comes with Yummly's recipe integrations.
Whirlpool is no stranger to connected ovens, but this is the first we've seen that has augmented reality incorporated into it. On the front is a 27-inch transparent display that instructs you how to cook. It shows step-by-step recipe instructions, of course, but it also shows you just where in the oven to place the food via a visual guide to ensure even cooking. Perhaps this will be the end of burned weeknight dinners.
Best Phone or Mobile Device
Royole's FlexPai won't fit comfortably in your pocket, but it's the first genuinely foldable smartphone. With a 7.8-inch flexible display, it's at once a compact tablet and a fully functional smartphone when doubled over. Where other manufacturers are teasing foldable smartphones as the next big mobile innovation, Royole has a working, shipping product. It might not be the most-refined device, but it's a glimpse of things to come that you can buy today.
The recent wave of all-screen smartphones has introduced a necessary but divisive design feature: the notch. The latest way manufacturers are trying to minimize dead display space is to cut out only enough screen for the front-facing camera to peek through. Honor's View 20 is one of the first smartphones sporting this "punch-hole" notch, and aside from that, it's also just a reasonably priced device with a lot to offer.
Mophie's Juice Pack Access is an elegant solution to a new and very real problem. Apple's killed the headphone jack in its past few generations of iPhones, meaning charging your device and using wired earbuds at the same time is simply not an option. Mophie's new charging cases free up the Lightning port once more, topping up your iPhone through wireless charging, and themselves refueling via a separate USB-C port.
Smart-home displays are basically just tethered tablets made with for a specific purpose. Lenovo's Smart Tab is your standard midrange 10-inch tablet when taken in isolation. Tuck it into its dock, however, and it becomes an Alexa-driven display with the capabilities of an Amazon Echo show. What's more, the dock doubles as an external speaker for richer sound when two become one.
Best TV Product
The dream of an OLED TV that can roll out of sight is here. We've seen LG Displays demo OLED bending and rolling over the past few years, but now LG is turning that into a shipping product with the OLED TV R. Its 65-inch screen has all of the same great tech as LG's other 2019 OLED TVs: deep blacks, an Alpha gen 2 processor and HDMI 2.1 with support for 120FPS 4K. Hit a button, and the screen rolls back into its built-in 100-watt soundbar. And you can also keep the screen open just a sliver to serve as a clock or photo display.
After wallpaper TV, what's next? Samsung gave us a pretty good idea with The Wall, which is back and better than ever this year. The individual MicroLEDs that make up each pixel of the totally flat screen are closer to each other, and the small seams we'd previously noticed have disappeared. It changes the rules of what a 4K TV can look like without compromising on picture quality at all.
Once again, LG's OLED sets are among the most impressive we've seen at CES. They build on the company's OLED technology, which delivers deeper blacks and higher contrast than LCD screens. Now there's the faster Alpha 9 gen for better image processing; HDMI 2.1 support, allowing them to play 4K up to 120FPS; integration with Amazon's Alexa; and even support for Apple's AirPlay 2 and HomeKit.
We've seen 8K TVs at CES for years, but this is the first time we've had to take them seriously, and Sony's "super-large" screens were the most impressive. It's not just their 33-million-pixel resolution, either, as its dense full-array LED backlighting system produced some of the best dynamic range we've seen. Even if you're skeptical about the necessity of 8K, the future is now, and it's beautiful.
Best Gaming Product
With the RTX 2060, NVIDIA is bringing real-time ray tracing to the masses. The new graphics card, however, offers more than ultra-realistic lighting and shadows. It's an all-round beast that NVIDIA says is even faster than the already-impressive GTX 1070 ti. For $349, the RTX 2060 is an obvious upgrade for heaps of PC gamers around the world.
Alienware's Area 51m offers something rare in laptop gaming: true upgradability. You can swap out the CPU, graphics card, RAM and storage, ensuring the outer shell is relevant (and usable) for many years to come. The 51m is also a huge leap forward in design for Alienware, dumping the tank-like edges of its predecessors for a cleaner, sleeker look.
NVIDIA's RTX graphics cards promise to enable real-time ray tracing, AI-powered upscaling or generally hold fast during a 4K 60FPS gaming session. That tech is now coming to your lap, with a whole suite of cards made for notebooks. Top-tier manufacturers at the show have already announced updated versions of their machines with the new cards inside, but the nomination this year goes to NVIDIA rather than a single laptop.
When HTC revealed the Vive Pro Eye, the coming iteration of its high-end VR headset line, it was easy to feel underwhelmed. It adds just one new feature to the standard Vive Pro headset, but in practice, that feature improves the experience 10-fold and in multiple ways. Eye-tracking allows developers to better mimic natural human sight via foveated rendering, and it enables myriad options for more detailed data tracking. This is the future of VR.
Most Unexpected Product
Sure, we see plenty of kitchen appliances at CES, but we've never seen one quite like the Bread Bot. It's an enormous, majestic appliance that can crank out 10 loaves of bread every hour. Sure, it's not meant for a normal person's kitchen, but it nonetheless stood out, made the convention hall smell great and the result tasted delicious.
The first product from GilletteLabs, the razor company's new innovation team, is the Heated Razor. It has a metal, gold-colored bar that heats up in less than a second to offer an experience approximating a hot towel shave. The bar itself reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit, heating your shaving foam/gel/bar-of-soap lather, and then your skin in the process. It's a wet-shaving luxury upgrade that's more interesting than simply adding more blades.
Impossible Foods was always going to improve on its debut meatless burger patty, but the upgrade is remarkable in many ways -- and not just because it appeared at CES. The Impossible Burger 2.0 features a better nutritional profile along with an improved taste and texture. All told, it's one convincing meat substitute.
Best Sports Tech
BotBoxer is a punching bag on a stick and a smart one at that. It's packed with loads of tech, including motion and pressure sensors, which are designed to react to a boxer's movements. The BotBoxer can also analyze your feet and body position to determine your stance, letting it predict where you're about to hit it. It's not easy to fight it, but no one said boxing was an easy sport.
Kettlebells make for an effective workout. And they don't take up much space. So why not make them smarter? That's what JAXJOX thought. The company's kettlebell system includes a simple rotating system that lets you adjust the weight digitally, ranging from 12 to 42 pounds. The companion app will track your kettlebell workout data, while factoring in health data from wearables like the FitBit and, eventually, the Apple Watch. The company also plans to add on-demand and live classes.
Best PC or Tablet
With this year's XPS 13, Dell has basically perfected an already excellent laptop. There's a new option for a 4K Dolby Vision HDR screen. The webcam is back up top where it belongs. And Dell even managed to further slim down the Infinity Edge display's bezels. At this point, the XPS 13 is pretty much the ideal Windows ultraportable.
The Surface Studio 2 is a graphic designer's dream, but it comes at a high price. Lenovo's Yoga A940 desktop is not only a more affordable alternative, but it also comes with a unique Precision Dial that you can plug into either side for quick controls of common drawing tools. The rotating dual-hinge lets you set the Yoga A940 in angles between 25 and 90 degrees, while a tray built into the base wirelessly charges your phone.
HP's Spectre x360 convertible now has a sharper look and an AMOLED display, something that's been relatively rare in the laptop world. It's a refinement on an already excellent 2-in-1: Its new design is more modern, with sharply cut edges around the case. It'll feature an eighth-generation Intel Core i7 CPU and your choice of NVIDIA or AMD graphics. But really, we're mainly excited about finally having AMOLED as a screen option.
17-inch laptops are getting thinner and lighter, but none are yet as light as the LG Gram 17. It's the first of its size in the company's lightweight-notebook lineup. Because of its larger chassis, the Gram 17 also houses a large battery that's supposed to last up to 19.5 hours, as well as a generous port selection and dedicated numpad on the keyboard. Bigger can indeed be better.
Best Robot or Drone
Samsung's Bot Care robot has your family's health at heart, particularly any elderly relatives who may need care. The device can monitor sleep, blood pressure and heart rate and share those vitals with Samsung Health (or a doctor). It can also detect when someone falls and alert a family member or call 911. That's all on top of all the basic smart features (media playback and daily briefings, etc.) that we've come to expect from our devices these days.
Ubtech's Walker was strolling around CES last year. Back then, though, it was basically an iPad on legs. This year it's a fully humanoid bipedal robot. Not only that, it learned to recognize objects and even love. Well, at least hug. The Walker is basically the robot butler we've all dreamed of. And at some point in the future, it could deliver you a can of Coke and a tube of Pringles while you kick back and watch Netflix.
Not every robot needs to save the world. The Lovot is here to make you feel better about how terrible the world is. This adorable pile of fur and sensors teeters about like a toddler, gives a happy little shake when you pet it and even "falls asleep" if you coddle it like a baby. Plus, they come in packs of two and play with each other when you're too busy to shower them with affection.
Most Impactful Product
In a natural disaster, getting emergency crews to the site as fast as possible is of paramount importance. However, any infrastructure damaged in the event will only serve to slow down their response time. However, those crews riding in the Elevate ultimate mobility vehicle from Hyundai's CRADLE division will be able to easily access even the most decimated of disaster areas. Each of the Elevate's four wheels are attached to foldable articulated legs that allow the electric vehicle to climb over 5-foot walls and span equally wide chasms. What's more, each of the wheels can be remotely locked, allowing for the Elevate to clamber through debris fields with a reptilian walking motion.
Our staff verdict was practically unanimous: Impossible Burger's latest meat-free patty is a clear upgrade over the original. Using soy instead of wheat protein, it has the equivalent protein to ground beef and can be used in anything from meatballs to dumplings. A casual fast food eater would be hard-pressed to tell this fake meat apart from the real deal.
French startup Lancey has placed solar batteries inside connected radiators, allowing you to store excess power and use it to warm a home. Coming in 600W or 1200W versions, Lancey's latest models will use recycled batteries from e-bikes. The home batteries could also distribute extra electricity during peak usage hours among a network of the radiators.