CES 2017 Highlights: Tuesday 3 January

Our Picks from the Las Vegas Technology Show

The CES 2017 show takes place in Las Vegas from 5 to 8 January. Over the next few days, CCS Insight’s team of analysts at the show will highlight items from this technology showcase.

Yesterday we published our predictions of major trends at the show. Today’s Daily Insight looks at notable items that emerged before the show officially opened.

We’ll issue a full report on the show after it closes.

Smart Speakers from Lenovo and Mattel

We predicted a slew of smart speakers at CES 2017, and today’s first item confirms that trend. Lenovo has launched its Smart Assistant connected speaker. Like Amazon’s Echo, it’s powered by the Alexa voice assistant and is about the same size and shape. It comes in two editions: the basic, at $130, and a Harman Kardon edition with higher-quality sound for $180. Lenovo will be looking to compete on price and sound quality against the Echo.

Mattel’s Aristotle smart speaker, at $399, is powered by both Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana, and comes with a camera for child monitoring. The Aristotle is touted as the “world’s first smart baby monitor”, with the ability to read bedtime stories and teach a child a second language. Its HD camera can stream images to a smartphone app.

We have yet to see public support for Google Assistant from third-party hardware makers, but we expect to hear more during the show.


Lenovo Smart Assistant


Mattel Aristotle

Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835

It’s been some years since CES witnessed the launch of a flagship chipset, but Qualcomm opted to change that in formally unveiling the Snapdragon 835. The new Snapdragon is much more than a next-generation smartphone chipset, and it was appropriate that Qualcomm used the diversity of CES to showcase its 10 nanometre silicon.

The Snapdragon 835 integrates a gigabit-class X16 modem, new Kryo 280 CPU, Adreno 540 GPU, Spectra 180 image processor and Hexagon 682 signal processor, and supports TensorFlow for machine learning. These impressive capabilities indicate Qualcomm is targeting a broad range of devices beyond smartphones, including virtual and augmented reality devices, IP cameras, next-generation PCs and cars.

Qualcomm undoubtedly faces challenges in a mobile market that is slowing and witnessing extreme pressure on the average price and margin of chipsets. But the company is well positioned to exploit its mobile leadership in adjacent categories. And these categories need highly complementary capabilities that make the most of the scale advantages provided by smartphones. Mobile is still relevant at CES, but its definition is changing.

Huawei’s New Smartphone

Still firmly in the traditional definition of mobile, Huawei’s new Honor 6X is a dual-lens smartphone, priced at $250 or $300 depending on hardware specifications. Similar to the Huawei P9, it is equipped with two rear-facing lenses. The second lens sports a lower-resolution monochrome sensor which, when combined with the main camera, allows users to capture images with a pleasing bokeh, or blurred background effect.

Beyond the camera, the Honor 6X’s specifications are unremarkable. It features a 5.5-inch LCD screen, 3GB or 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage and a Kirin 655 processor. With attention shifting away from smartphones in the mobile space, the Honor 6X is likely to be one of a few smartphone announcements at this year’s CES. We expect Huawei to use this to its advantage, gaining higher levels of coverage for a handset which, in previous years would have attracted less attention.

The smartphone market may be in the doldrums, but almost 1.5 billion are still sold each year. Huawei’s new Honor 6X appears to be a solid product that reflects the level of maturity among even mid-range devices, but breaking into the US market remains a major challenge.

Huawei Honor 6X