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A camera for babies and a fridge that can text you: The best of this year's top gadget show

Image: John Herring and Yoon Lee, executives with Samsung Electronics Ameri
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Steve Marcus Reuters
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LAS VEGAS — Tech's largest trade show, CES, once again delivered sleek new TVs, smart appliances and glimpses of the future during the week-long show in Las Vegas.

Televisions were once again a highlight, as the big players showed the screens that could be gracing living rooms later this year.

"The TV highlights at the show have been 8K resolutions, rollable TVs that appear magically from a small box, and 'walls' of TVs that are huge and flush mount on the wall," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

Last year, LG showed off the prototype of its roll-up television. This year, it wowed with its consumer version, dubbed the Signature Series OLED TV R — for rollable — that will be available later this year in a 65-inch size. The company hasn't commented on pricing yet, but like most new, innovative pieces of technology, it's a safe bet that the screen will sell at a luxury price point.

People look at the LG Signature OLED TV R, which stands for rollable, televisions roll up and roll down at a display in the LG exhibit during CES 2019 in Las Vegas on Jan. 8, 2019.
People look at the LG Signature OLED TV R, which stands for rollable, televisions roll up and roll down at a display in the LG exhibit during CES 2019 in Las Vegas on Jan. 8, 2019.David Mcnew

Samsung also built on its work from last year's CES, where it showed off a super-thin television dubbed "The Wall." This year, Samsung debuted two versions, including a 75-inch consumer TV and a 219-inch display.

The televisions are thin, but they also stand out for their modularity, allowing users to get the shape of television they want without any bezels getting in the way. The Micro LED technology is also a differentiator from the competition, since each Micro LED can emit its own light and produce richer, more vibrant colors on the display, according to Samsung. The company did not share a release date or pricing.

In the kitchen, Samsung showed off its new Family Hub 4.0 refrigerator, which promises to text you if you accidentally leave the refrigerator door open, yet still can't manage to skip the text and close the door itself. The refrigerator also carries on a popular feature from earlier generations, enabling shoppers to see what's in their refrigerator while they're at the grocery store.

John Herring and Yoon Lee, executives with Samsung Electronics America, post a photo to "Family Board" on a  Family Hub smart refrigerator during a Samsung news conference at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, 2019.
John Herring and Yoon Lee, executives with Samsung Electronics America, post a photo to "Family Board" on a Family Hub smart refrigerator during a Samsung news conference at the 2019 CES in Las Vegas on Jan. 7, 2019.Steve Marcus

Smart-sensor company Kangaroo announced several new products, including a smoke alarm, climate sensor that can detect potential mold growth, and a home siren to scare off intruders. The sensors all report back to a central Kangaroo app on the user's phone.

And in the bathroom, Kohler integrated Alexa with its Numi 2.0 toilet, so you'll never have to go through the arduous task of flushing a toilet yourself, ever again.

However, while CES is a great place to catch a glimpse of the future, it can also feel like companies are going overboard, said Tuong Nguyen, senior principal analyst at Gartner.

"This tech is so great. I can barely appreciate what I have and now you're trying to sell me more," he said. "Your car speedometer goes to 120, but we drive at 70. [Going to CES is like] saying: 'I want to sell you this car that goes 200.' It's like, 'OK, thanks. I'm barely taking advantage of what you're giving me and now you want to give me more.'"

And of course it wouldn't be CES without some offbeat ideas.

A French start-up called Babeyes showed off a clip-on camera for babies that constantly records video clips. Parents can then download the clips and save them to the cloud. The idea is designed to give babies a memory of their early years — but also raises some privacy red flags.

Another product, Welt, is a smart belt that collects data on everything from waist size to steps, allowing users to take control of their health. The company said it has sold more than 10,000 belts in Asia and even gifted one to French President Emmanuel Macron.

And of course there were plenty of robots, from companions to delivery bots to bread-making Breadbots.

While some analysts critiqued the "incremental innovation" at CES and pointed out how companies built on progress, instead of delivering one knockout idea to "wow" the crowds, Tom Coughlin, a fellow at IEEE, said he's leaving CES "optimistic."

"Consumer electronics are an important part of our lives nowadays," he said. "It reflects mankind's striving to be able to do things in new ways, whether it be entertainment, exploration, taking care of your family, or understanding the universe and ourselves. It is very much a reflection of who we are as humans. We are, by our nature, toolmakers."

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