CES: The Main Halls


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CES 2020 is now over, and the next round of shows is underway (NAMM is also over now, IPC APEX EXPO is next week, followed by AWE and others). CES displayed electronics related to gaming, monitors, computers, smartwatches, TVs, vehicles, cellphones, etc. However, the effect on the industry and the way we live will be felt until the next CES. The largest and most influential participants are usually found at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The LVCC is made up of three large, connected convention center buildings—some two stories tall—all connected as the largest show floor square footage anywhere. Next year, it will be even larger, as it has been announced that the LVCC will soon be expanded, adding 600,000 square feet of floor space.

Gaming

Again, I must remind that even though we spent a full day at the LVCC, and we saw perhaps half of what was offered, and that does not include the spillover exhibition halls at the nearby hotels. Our journey at the main convention center starts at the South Hall where an area the size of the entire IPC APEX EXPO show is devoted to e-gaming.

If you are a gamer—and especially if you build your own beastly gaming rigs—CES was the place to be. In a previous article, I discussed some of the impressive components from one of the computer DIY industry segments leaders, Corsair. I also reported on the AMD announcements, but let me add some commentary on a new component from AMD that got my attention.

The AMD Ryzen 4000 Series CPUs for notebooks is codenamed Renoir. This past year, AMD dominated the desktop CPU market, especially for DIY builders with their amazing and very cost-effective Ryzen 3000 series. As someone who personally built a rig using a Ryzen 3000 chip, I can attest to its amazing power and reasonable price. This 4000 series has an advantage in that it is designed for use in laptops. It seems to basically be a Ryzen 3000 series with the capability of powering a light but powerful gaming notebook.

With the increase in popularity of advanced amateur and professional computer gaming, one would expect to see powerful as well as lightweight gaming notebooks. Lenovo announced their entry into the PC gaming notebook market at CES with the Legion Y742S. It’s not exactly light, but weighing a reasonable 4.18 pounds, they claim that this is their thinnest and lightest gaming laptop. This offering from Lenovo claims a battery life of up to 8 hours and features a 10th Gen Intel Core i9 CPU, which Lenovo says will offer clock speed of up to 5 GHz. Another feature is that it can quickly toggle between performance modes, depending on what you are doing. My experience with the Lenovo ThinkPad series of notebooks has always been excellent, so it will be interesting to see what the effect of their entrance into the growing laptop computer gaming market will be.

CES-01-gaming-controllers.jpg

Dell also had a new offering—the G5 15 SE—with the latest AMD hardware and features. This unit will ship with a design language that the company describes as “fighter plane-like.” In addition, it will have optional 144-Hz displays available and an optional 4-zone RGB keyboard. It is planned for availability in April with prices starting at $799.99, but I would expect them to be considerably higher if you choose the more powerful options available for this unit.

Alienware is also rolling out a new 25” gaming monitor with the company’s Legend design ID. It features NVIDIA G-Sync and a 240-Hz refresh rate.

Other new gaming monitors include one from Samsung, who announced that they are now naming their gaming monitors under the Odyssey umbrella just as they do their gaming laptops. Their latest and greatest is a large curved gaming monitor—the Odyssey G9. This 49” monitor has an impressive 240-Hz refresh rate and up to 5K resolution supporting NVIDIA G-Sync.

CES-02-odyssey-G9.jpg While this is an amazing monitor based on its specifications, I think the aspect ratio with these ultra-wide monitors is too wide. If you use your computer for more than gaming—and almost all of us do—no matter how powerful of a beast you have built or bought, you will sometimes just use it for looking at a web page or writing a word file. Even if you use multiple monitors, I believe that the narrow height vs. width becomes somewhat annoying, especially if it is your only monitor, but that’s just my opinion.

There were also some new monitors using the more normal aspect ratio—many with the somewhat dated but still popular 1080P resolution. For example, ASUS announced its ROG Swift 360 Hz—a 24.5” monitor with an amazing 360-Hz refresh rate and very conventional 1080P resolution. Do higher refresh rates make you a better gamer? NVIDIA says yes, but I think the question is still up for debate.

CES-03-Razer-booth.jpg

The gaming area this year was quite large. In addition to computers and monitors, professional and extensive gaming setups were shown. For example, the Razor exhibit, which dominated the view of anyone entering the South Hall, included a plethora of gaming hardware. It had everything from laptops, mice, displays, and desktop and notebook computers to complete amusement park-quality gaming stations. 

CES-04-Razer-Gaming.jpg

Of course, there were many more high-tech advanced components and visually amazing devices shown by many companies. In addition, the emergence of virtual reality into mainstream gaming was quite evident at CES 2020. Companies, such as ThirdEye Gen and others, showed lightweight, wireless VR vision glasses rather than the heavy, wired headsets that dominated just a few years ago. After all, the technology has advanced light years from the Apple II and the IBM PC, and e-sports has grown in just the last few years to be a billion-dollar industry with accelerated growth. It would be easy to spend the entire day exploring more of the numerous computer and e-gaming exhibits, but it was time to move on.

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