Our editors have been hard at work the past few days finding the latest and greatest gadgets here at CES 2020. Now 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 TVs to the most sustainable 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. 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 5 PM PT/8 PM ET on Thursday to watch it all unfold.
Best accessibility tech
With roughly five percent of the population suffering from some form of hearing loss, there are a lot of people struggling to tune in. Olive Union's Smart Ear hearing amplifier strikes a balance among style, function and price. While more affordable than a hearing aid, it still offers premium features like music streaming and hands-free calling.
Research out of France two years ago suggests dyslexia occurs when the brain interprets two dominant eyes in a person rather than the usual one. The Lexilight is an LED desk lamp that helps people with dyslexia read letters clearly by pulsing at a customizable rate, enabling the brain to process information as if it were coming from a single dominant eye. In testing with more than 300 people, 90 percent of participants reported improved reading abilities.
When it comes to accessibility products, we rarely think of something slick and discreet. Phonak's Virto Black -- a small, stylish hearing aid that's packed full of technology -- is both. It not only delivers natural sound in a discreet form factor but also is smart enough to know what sounds you want to hear and when. Modern features like music streaming, call handling and an accessory that allows listening from across the room prove that accessibility tech doesn't have to be clinical.
Sixty-thousand Americans are diagnosed with Parkinson's disease each year. The nervous system disorder causes tremors and a halting walking gate. While there's no cure for the disease, a number of treatment options are available, including the ExoBeam from Hong Kong's MedEXO Robotics. It attaches to the patient's belt or cane, providing visual, auditory and tactile cues to help the user maintain a steady and consistent stride.
Rhythmo's Beatbox is a build-it-yourself drum machine kit with an integrated battery and speakers. It's made from durable cardboard and has plenty of twisty knobs and arcade-style buttons for making tunes. Once everything is assembled, you can fire up the Beatbox app and follow the tutorials to learn about music production. By the end, you'll be ready to make some sweet jams, both through the app and with other compatible software.
Some researchers believe that people with dyslexia have two dominant eyes that simultaneously send information to the brain, causing letters to appear mirrored or blurred while reading. French startup Lexilife has developed a special reading lamp in response that uses both pulsed and modulated light to combat the effect. Users can adjust the pulsation to find their perfect light-based rhythm and, as a result, read with greater comfort for longer periods of time.
Water scarcity is a growing concern around the world, and Hydraloop devised an innovative, in-home solution to help people do their part. The company's flagship product is about the size of a refrigerator, and once installed, it thoroughly purifies incoming waste water and routes it back out again for use in toilets, washing and gardening. Hydraloop's work is not only good for the environment but also will help you save money on your water bill.
Feles wants to make biotechnology affordable and give everyone the chance to conduct simple lab experiments at home. The startup's first product is a beautifully designed lab in a box that boasts a seven-inch touchscreen, fridge and storage area, centrifuge, gel dock, thermocycler, spectrometer, and two incubators. In short, it's everything you need to learn about microbrewing, food testing, molecular mixology, species identification, bio art and more.
Best digital health and fitness product
Withings' range of elegant, subtly designed fitness-tracking watches has taken another step forward with the ScanWatch. It has dual optical sensors, including one for now-industry-standard heart-arrhythmia tests and an SpO2 sensor to monitor blood-oxygen levels, helping to identify periods of sleep apnea. Additionally, claimed 30-day battery life means you no longer need to worry about running out of power by the end of the day.
There are plenty of electric toothbrushes on the market, but Colgate's Plaqless Pro has two features that help it stand out. A built-in sensor detects plaque buildup in your mouth, and a light ring around the toothbrush glows blue when you need to keep cleaning. Once you've removed all the plaque, the light turns white and you can move on. Naturally, it offers all the other features you'd expect from a smart toothbrush, including an app that analyzes your brushing habits. Even so, a simple visual indicator showing when your teeth are fully clean is probably the smartest thing about this toothbrush.
The Internet of Things is everywhere, but smart bathroom devices remain a novelty. What we liked about Mateo's smart bath mat is how it hides in plain sight, and does more than measure just pounds or kilograms. A medical-grade, 7,000-dot pressure map can map out how your foot makes contact with the ground, rate your posture and offer remedial exercises, if needed, through a companion app.
Sex tech may have just gotten the official green light from the CTA to exhibit at CES, but products like these have actually been getting smarter for years already. The Lioness is a bio-sensing vibrator that can detect the intensity of your orgasm. The version launched this week at CES uses AI to guide you in understanding your pleasure. What's most intriguing about Lioness though are the insights you can glean about your overall health from patterns in your arousal.
Withings makes classy hybrid fitness-tracking watches that look good on your wrist while keeping an eye on your health. Its flagship wearable already had a blood pressure monitor, but it now gains a built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) test for a more complete picture of your heart, along with an additional optical sensor that promises to detect signs of sleep apnea. As a smartwatch, it offers smartphone notifications and alerts alongside all that health data. The fact that it can last for 30 days on a charge means it'll please folks who find the Apple Watch's charging demands a little high maintenance.
Suunto's newest watch is trying to appeal to two very different kinds of users: those in the market for a smartwatch and hard-core fitness junkies who will take all the data they can get. The Suunto 7 runs on Wear OS, but it tries to make the best of Google's software by adding its own tweaks. That includes offline outdoor maps, complete with heat maps of popular routes. In addition, Suunto pushed the display brightness to 1,000 nits, making it easy to read in the brightest of sunlight.
Audio-Technica is no stranger to true wireless earbuds. However, the company's latest model is its first with active noise cancellation (ANC). The earbuds also have a more refined design than the ATH-CKS5TW we reviewed in December. What's more, the overall sound quality is much improved, as the ATH-ANC300TW has more of Audio-Technica's signature warm and clear sound. They're the best-sounding true wireless earbuds we tried during CES this week.
The Olive Union Smart Ear is a hearing aid disguised as a true wireless earbud, helping reduce the stigma that can come from wearing a behind-the-ear device. It's sold as a single unit instead of a pair, and it amplifies sound for those who need a little help hearing better. Smart features like different listening modes and Bluetooth connectivity make it more versatile too.
Best transportation technology
Building a car is tough. Building a good car at scale is near impossible. Building a city -- well, that's insane. Yet Toyota has decided to take on that inconceivable task. The Toyota Woven City is the automaker's daring plan to build a tiny metropolis near Mount Fuji that will function as a research center. Autonomous cars, mixed-use transportation veins and 2,000 residents will come together to see what happens when a smart city is built from the ground up with today's technology.
The automotive world is undergoing a transformation that a few years ago seemed ludicrous. Across the board, carmakers are pushing to become sustainable with carbon-neutral vehicles and factories. Mercedes-Benz's odd stake in the ground is the all-electric Avatar-inspired AVTR. It's weird and yet compelling, with expansive see-through surfaces and no steering wheel. It'll never show up in garages, but its suite of earth-friendly features could be an indication of what we can expect to see from the luxury automaker in future vehicles.
When it comes to electric vehicles, power typically only flows from the home charging station to the car. But the Quasar from smart charging company Wallbox can push power both ways. It's the world's first bidirectional home EV charger. That means it can not only deliver energy to the car but also pull charge from the vehicle to power the home or be sold back to the local grid. Only the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi Engelberg Tourer have that capability currently, but interest in the technology is sure to grow quickly.
LiDAR systems use lasers to give semi-autonomous cars an extra set of eyes. Correction: exceedingly expensive "eyes" that cost as much as $100,000. However, the Velabit LiDAR system from Velodyne is smaller than a deck of cards and will cost just $100 when it enters production later this year. Sure, it can't see quite as far as its more expensive rivals, but its affordable price means that manufacturers will be able to integrate it into many more car models.
Best home theater product
For the past few years, Vizio has turned out some impressive home-audio setups. This year, its revamped lineup will be led by the Elevate Sound Bar. Besides the usual impressive Dolby Atmos and DTS:X audio support, it turns the speaker into a conversation piece with drivers that rotate based on what you're listening to. We know what lengths AV geeks have gone to just to activate the light for a particular codec, and moving speakers take it one step further. Are they entirely necessary? Maybe not, but this should look good in your living room.
The streaming wars are heating up, and TiVo's bid to take part in our reshaped video experience is an impressive one. Against competition like Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV, the Stream 4K is pushing a front-end experience that might be good enough to keep you from being buried in apps. Add in an actual grid guide with compelling free options and it's something that has appeal for recent cord cutters who are new to internet video.
In video, Dolby Vision HDR stands apart as a benchmark for incredible experiences that are delivered on disc or via streaming. Vision IQ takes that effort even further, allowing your TV to optimize the experience based on in-room lighting conditions. While we'd all love to watch movies in a dark home theater environment, the realities of living rooms and household-lighting setups mean that you can't always control the situation. Any technology that takes the guesswork out of getting the "best" picture available is a welcome addition.
Best connected home product
While most digital photo frames are designed to sit on your desk, the Lenovo Smart Frame is meant to be hung on a wall. It has a 21.9-inch display with an antiglare coating and a matte finish, which makes it look more like a work of art than an LCD screen. The app allows you to load photos from a number of different cloud services, and it can also automatically add your best images to a collage.
U by Moen is a smart faucet that you can control with your voice, either through Google Assistant or Amazon's Alexa. You can tell it to dispense exact amounts and at what temperature, a handy feature for home cooks. It also features personalized presets, so you can assign commands like "fill a baby bottle" to correspond with a particular temperature and a specific volume of water.
Not everything that qualified for our connected home category collects data, responds to voice commands or requires a companion app. Case in point: Sepura, a replacement for your garbage disposal that is smart enough to separate solids from liquids, sending food scraps to a scent-proof bin. When that bin gets full, dump the contents into a composting bucket or take them to your local farmer's market. Wherever that compost ends up, it won't find its way into the sewer, the way it would with a traditional garbage disposal system.
Not everyone wants to go out and drop thousands of dollars or buy all new appliances to outfit their cooking game for the connected age. Weber's Smart Grilling Hub upgrades your existing gas, charcoal or even pellet grill with four temperature sensors that then feed that data back to an app on your phone. You can check the ambient temperature of your grill as well as that of several different meats at once. The app will also guide you through every step of the process, including prep, flipping and estimated completion time.
Best phone or mobile device
Samsung's flagship Note series was always geared toward power users, early adopters and shoppers for whom money is no object. But not anymore. The new Galaxy Note 10 Lite takes nearly all the features you'd expect from those premium models -- a big screen, clever S Pen tricks and a flexible collection of cameras -- and squeezes them into a package that should cost hundreds of dollars less than the standard Note. Excellent performance, thoughtful features and a more reasonable price -- what's not to like?
TCL is best known for making TVs and Alcatel phones, but it's going to spend 2020 building up its self-branded phone business. Devices like the TCL 10 5G should help. It's an upper-midrange device with clean software, a surprisingly nice display and full support for the 5G networks you've heard so much about. The best part: TCL promises it will cost customers in the US and Canada less than $500 at launch, making it an accessible way to experience ultra-fast data speeds.
Don't let the name fool you. Lenovo's $279 IdeaPad Duet Chromebook should be surprisingly functional as a productivity machine, thanks to ChromeOS and a free included keyboard. The thing is, it's also pretty good as a tablet, thanks to its slim design and bright screen. It's not the most powerful portable we've seen this year, but it's still a compelling proposition, especially at this price.
Teracube is a phone with a four-year warranty, and it's made by a company with a surprisingly sustainable business model. If the phone ever breaks for whatever reason, you can send it back for a $39 flat fee, at which point you'll get a close-to-new refurbished phone in return. The company then repairs it and resells or ships it to another customer who broke their phone. It's a plan that could potentially reduce e-waste as well as our carbon footprint.
Best TV product
8K TVs were all the rage at CES, but Samsung's Q950 stood out from the competition with its bezel-less design. That means there's no distracting case around the edges of the screen: Yu're just staring at pure picture. While there's not much 8K content available today, the Q950 can also upscale existing content to take advantage of the higher resolution.
For the past few years, LG's OLEDs have trounced every other TV we've seen at CES, thanks to the display technology's enormous benefits over traditional LCD panels. You'll still get incredible contrast and black levels with LG's 2020 lineup, starting with the CX models. But they also all include NVIDIA's G-SYNC technology, which smooths out gameplay and reduces image artifacts, as well as a filmmaker mode that removes features like motion smoothing, which true cinephiles abhor.
Vizio has made a name for itself as a purveyor of high-quality yet inexpensive TVs that can go toe to toe with the likes of Samsung's. This year, it's getting into the OLED game, which is great news for anyone hoping to move away from LCD. The company hasn't revealed pricing or other details about the sets yet, but from our experience they look great, and we expect them to come in much cheaper than competing OLEDs.
Best gaming product
AMD's Radeon RX 5600 XT is a huge upgrade for 1080p gamers. Following last year's 5700 cards, the 5600 is a cheaper, lower-powered GPU built to play the latest games at full HD resolution and high frame rates. Unlike so many things at CES, the 5600 XT will be on sale soon: January 21st, with a price of $279.
Razer's Kishi is a proper controller cradle for iPhones and select Android devices. Two thumbsticks, a directional pad, ABXY buttons and four shoulder buttons -- it basically turns your phone into a Switch-style handheld. Unlike the Razer Junglecat, which relied on Bluetooth, the Kishi goes straight into your smartphone's USB-C or Lightning port. The lower latency should help in competitive games like Fortnite and when you're streaming through services such as xCloud and Stadia.
The Arcadeo Gaming chair responds to on-screen action with 10 individual points of haptic feedback, vibrating with each low rumble and loud pop of sound in different ways. Multichannel audio allows specific noises to be mapped to certain vibration spots, adding a layer of immersion to any game, on any platform.
Most unexpected product
Neon's artificial human avatars were the first viral hit of CES 2020. There was backing from Samsung, the sci-fi spectacle of extremely realistic virtual assistants -- and confusion. When the event fog cleared, Neon was a company at the start of its journey. Its avatars were simple but captured the imagination of the public, days before the show even began. Neon still has plenty of time to deliver on its promises.
After building up an air of mystery over the past year, Quibi made its official debut at CES with a unique spin on mobile video. You can watch its short shows in landscape and portrait mode, a unique technology that also opens up a bit of interactivity. With a billion dollars in funding and tons of star power, Quibi is the most intriguing mobile video offering we've seen yet.
Sony's big CES announcement was a concept electric vehicle. Let that sink in for a second. It has 33 sensors dotting the interior and exterior of the car, with 360 Reality Audio capabilities and space for four. While the car is unlikely to be on roads, it serves as a showcase for how committed Sony is to mobility tech. Now it needs to find some car-manufacturing allies.
It's cute. It rolls around your house controlling your smart home gadgets. It might get eaten by your dog. It's Ballie! Samsung's latest attempt at a home robot is perhaps its most adorable yet, even if it feels like Samsung watched Star Wars a few too many times while making it. Even better, it might actually wind up being a valuable smart home product. Samsung just needs to fully explain what it does first.
Best sports tech
Jabra's Elite 75t true wireless earbuds are a big improvement over 2018's impressive Elite 65t. The company brought changes like better battery life and reduced overall size to its more sporty model: the Elite Active 75t. This version is built for the gym and other activities with a soft-touch grip coating and enhanced water resistance (IP57 rating). You can drop these in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes without a worry. And the best part is they're $199.
Insta360 has a lot of experience making 360-degree cameras. Now the company has built a modular-action camera. The mods include extra battery, dual-lens 360 lens, 4K wide-angle lens and more. There's even a one-inch 5.3K sensor mod created in collaboration with Leica. Packages start at $480, and there are some options, so you'll have choices when it comes to picking the accessories that fit your needs.
Echelon is a company that makes spin bikes that, much like larger rival Peloton, connect to classes on their massive screens. In the next few months, the company is branching out into rowing machines with the Echelon Row. The rower, or "ergometer" if you're fancy, uses a woven nylon belt much like the Hydrow's, with solid build quality and an excellent action. There are two big pluses for Echelon: that you can alter the intensity of the row with a control on the grip, and the price, which is promised to be around $1,600.
Best PC or tablet
The XPS 13 has been one of our favorite ultraportable laptops since it made its debut at CES 2015 with a nearly bezel-less display. Five years and a couple makeovers later, that's still true. For 2020, the XPS 13 takes cues from Dell's other 13-inch ultraportable, last year's convertible XPS 13 2-in-1. In particular, the screen has a taller 16:20 aspect ratio and the bezels are even thinner, especially below the display; from afar, it almost looks as if the screen is connected directly to the keyboard. Speaking of the keys, they now have a wider edge-to-edge layout. Regardless of whether you prefer a hybrid or traditional clamshell design then, your options from Dell now have parity when it comes to design.
Chromebook users are growing up, and Chrome OS machines are glowing up along with them. The Samsung Galaxy Chromebook is the best-looking Chrome OS device yet, with a premium build, sleek lines and a fiery red hue (or a plainer silver option if you prefer playing it safe). It also has a brilliant 4K AMOLED display, capable Intel Core i5 processor and a respectable 10-hour battery life estimate.
The world's first foldable tablet PC may still look a little unrefined, but the fact that it's about ready for sale is a significant achievement. The ThinkPad X1 Fold is a taste of what to expect in the months and years ahead, exploring the limits and challenges of a machine packing a folding screen. Lenovo's head start will ultimately give the company plenty of valuable experience in improving its foldable devices.
Best robot or drone
It can get lonely living on your own, but this being the 21st century, there's a robot for that. Meet the piBo from Samsung C-Lab Outside startup Circulus. This 15-inch-tall humanoid robot does virtually anything you want it to. It can sing, dance, tell you the news and the weather, and play music. It is currently on sale in Korea, and its creators are eyeing a Kickstarter campaign to bring it stateside soon.
No evil lair is complete without drone sentries, even if it's located in the suburbs. The home awareness system from Sunflower Labs is a three-part security system designed to track and monitor trespassers on your property. There are the Sunflowers, motion and vibration sensors that can detect humans, animals and vehicles within a 20-meter radius; the base unit dubbed the Hive; and the drone itself, the Bee. You can set the drone to react only when the sunflowers detect movement, or keep it on patrol to monitor up to four acres of land.
Drones are great for shooting slick aerial footage, but once they land they're just another thing to carry around. Not so with the PowerEgg X from PowerVision. This versatile quadcopter doubles as a stabilized handheld camera that records in 4K and has facial recognition to help keep subjects in shot. An accessory makes the whole thing waterproof, meaning it could be the only camera you need on your next adventure.
There hasn't been much innovation lately in terms of consumer-drone form factors, but Zero Zero Robotics took the initiative to come up with a cool-looking bi-copter with an impressive flight time of 50 minutes, thus setting a new benchmark in the industry. The V-Coptr Falcon also benefits from a three-axis gimbal for stable 4K video footage, along with a seven-kilometer transmission range and an extra pair of eyes for obstacle avoidance, plus cunning auto-follow features for easy cinematic shots.
Best sustainability product
Fighting climate change and the general degradation of our environment may require dramatic changes. But even small gestures can add up to have a serious impact. Sepura makes it easier for people to begin composting their food scraps. It replaces a standard garbage disposal and automatically sorts solids from liquids. And instead of grinding up all of your eggshells and apple cores and sending them down to the sewer, you can use the Sepura to deposit them in a scent-proof collection bin for composting.
Water scarcity will be a real danger in the future, yet we consume it all too casually today. Hydraloop, a fridge-sized household water-treatment device, claims to recycle 85 percent of household water. That means the water from your shower and laundry can be reused to flush toilets or water the garden. Once installed, it's a seamless way to drastically reduce water consumption in the house.
Watergen's GENNY sucks the humidity from the air, filters it and dispenses it as drinking water. It's a remarkably simple mechanism, but one with useful implications for communities without reliable access to clean water. The new Solar GENNY bundles the original device with the solar panels and installation to power it, making it completely self-sustaining and particularly valuable for rural areas or emergency situations.
Impossible Foods showing up at CES wasn't a surprise after the launch of its Impossible 2.0 beef substitute at the event last year, but it still delighted our taste buds with Impossible Pork this week. Like the faux-beef product, Impossible Pork is designed to fill in anywhere ground pork would be used. It's nominated in our sustainability category not because of its taste but because of its potential to negate the environmental impact of large-scale farming.