CES 2021: Early reveals of WFH technology promise improved work experiences
CES 2021. I usually arrive in Las Vegas early. My CES registration saved on my phone for easy access at the badge retrieval stands at McCarran Airport’s baggage claim. Then the first of the all too far walks to things that would be convenient in any other city,. An app tap on my iPhone 12 mini summons Uber. My first American Express Uber credit of the year. The hotel. Twenty, or thirty, or more minutes tick by as a slow moving line snakes me toward check-in. My loyalty number offers recognition and tracking of meals, purchases and gambling experiences. Keycards slip into my hands right under the initial acknowledgement of the resort fee. I take the long walk through the casino to the guest elevators. Trudge down the long corridor for the first time to my room. I open the door to a whiff of disinfectant. I drop my bags, and reverse the long walk, aimed at the nearest Las Vegas Monorail station where I cash in my pre-purchased discount voucher—and I’m off to far end of the strip for meetings.
But that is not the experience this year. This year Covid-19 remain firmly influential — CES 2021 arrives completely digital. The onerous logistics of CES collapse into a browser window. No sore feet. No worn-out shoes. No running from the Convention Center to the Venetian to the Wynn—and then walking again down long paths through the casino to convention halls, and finally arriving at the press only events that presage the coming of CES proper.
Those press events took place today, Pepcom and parts of ShowStoppers. There were no drinks, no swag bags, no backpacks full of samples. Those experience elements were replaced by downloadable contact cards, videos, product literature and press release PDFs, and open Zoom calls.
This CES I will focus on work from home #WFH technology. And the early meetings revealed some product announcements worthy of note. Over the next couple of days I will pursue additional announcements that may prove of interest to people trying to design better work from home experiences. I will also keep my eyes out for fun products to help balance my work and life—and yours. Now on to the early WFH announcements from CES 2021.
CES 2021 Day 1 Product Announcements
HP Elite Dragonfly G2 Max
One would think an Elite Dragonfly G2 would be enough for HP, but no, that 5G connected ultralight convertible with built-in Tile™ support needed a bigger, well, fancier brother. Enter the HP Elite Dragonfly G2 Max with four wide-range microphones, AI-driven audio optimization, and a 5MP/IR camera for high-quality video conferences. HP continues to build on its sustainable product credentials with recycled materials throughout. Both products include 11th Gen Intel processors with Bang & Olufsen tuned audio. As I eval the unit going forward, we’ll find out why the Max gets a great camera but only comes in a 1080P config, whereas the G2 offers a UHD option. The new Dragonflies can both sport up to 32GB of LPDDR4 RAM, and a 2TB SSD. Pricing not yet available.
HP continues to build on its sustainable product credentials with recycled materials throughout.
HP EliteBook 840 G8 Aero
As Serious Insight readers know, the HP 800 series aims squarely at the majority of business users with its remote management and security features. The new 14-inch Aero is the lightest of the line, with support for 11th Gen Intel processors, integrated Tile™, Wi-Fi 6, and optional 5G LTE. HP Sure View continues to protect the display from prying eyes. The only downside for business users is the less than stellar 720p camera.
Harman, a Samsung company, announced the $299.95 JBL Tour One and the $199.94 JBL Tour Pro+ [press release here]. Tour One offers over the ear comfort, true adaptive noise cancelling, 25 hours of charge with Bluetooth and noise canceling both on (50 with BT only), PD USB-C charging, and fast pairing. Buisness buyers will appreciate the 4-microphone technology, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as well as a SilentNow feature that blocks sound for complete auditory isolation.
The Tour Pro+ offers many of the same features in a pair of dual master earbuds that deliver up to 6 hours of ANC in an IPX4 sweatproof package.
While true wireless earbuds offer maximum freedom of movement, they sometime feel a little light on physical security, especially when traveling or in strenuous working environments. Enter JLab’s JFrames the $50 solution that fit around almost any pair of classes to bring a more secure audio experience to those wearing prescription or safety glasses.
This isn’t your everyday mask. The $49.99 Maskfone combines protection, and technology into look worthy of a lifestyle photography. Maskfone features replaceable PM2.5 and N95/FFP2 filters, a built-in microphone, and earbuds, reducing the need to remove masks in public.
Forget Star Wars or Avengers themed face coverings. Maskfone is the ultimate geek face mask.
We didn’t imagine at the last CES we would need to wear masks everywhere—but now CES 2021 brings consumer electronics to the mask experience. Forget Star Wars or Avengers themed face coverings. Maskfone is the ultimate geek face mask.
MOFT MagSafe-Compatible Snap-On Stand & Wallet for iPhone 12
MOFT’s $29.00 Snap-On Stand and Wallet removes the use once adhesive of so many wallets and stick-on stands and replaces it with MagSafe compatible magnets that adhere to iPhone 12. The configurable stand works in vertical or horizontal configuration, including an elevated mount for video conferencing. The stand also holds IDs, business cards or credit cards. The stand works through cases and when charging via MagSafe.
For an additional purchase, Magnetic Sticky Pads deliver adhesive mounted magnetic surfaces so an iPhone 12 can look at home even on a wall.
MOFT also sells the Float Stand for transforming iPad Pros into more adaptive tablet-based work experiences.
The Alloy Origins 60 keyboard packs its features into an ultra-compact 60 percent form-factor that maximizes desktop real estate. I include it as a WFH product because as desktops get more cluttered (and those at home more surface opportunistic), many may seek out a credible small keyboard to fit available space. The Origins 60 keyboard employs HyperX red linear mechanical switches with shorter actuation and shorter travel time, great for gaming, not so bad for typing. And it lights up in fun colors. What else do you need to know?
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.