The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kickstarts the entire year in hardware. At the start of a new decade, technology running a Google operating system offered some tidbits into the far future, but also what you’re likely buying over the next 12 months. Here’s the Best of CES 2020 awards from 9to5Google.
Best Chromebook — Samsung Galaxy Chromebook
Long before phones, Pixel was synonymous with premium Chromebooks. Many manufacturers over the years moved into the mid-range, especially for enterprise devices, but there are still only a handful of high-end Chrome OS devices. The race for that space this year is starting very early — and might already be won — with Samsung’s Galaxy Chromebook.
To start, it’s available in red — like “Fiesta Red” — or a tamer “Mercury Gray.” It packs a modern Intel Core i5-10210U 10th-Gen processor with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of storage. I/O includes two USB-C ports, microSD card slot, fingerprint sensor, and dual speakers.
What makes this a premium Chromebook is the 13.3-inch 4K AMOLED — a first for Chrome OS — touchscreen. A dockable S Pen pairs nicely with a 2-in-1 form factor that allows for tablet usage. All this is in an ultra thin .55-inch package.
My colleague Ben Schoon noted in our hands-on that the Galaxy Chromebook stole his heart in a matter of minutes. It’s exceptional hardware with very up-to-date specs that make it the premium $999 Chromebook to beat in 2020 when it launches in the first quarter.
Best Google Assistant accessory — Belkin Soundform Elite Hi-Fi
While Google did not really continue with the design language of the original Google Home, Belkin at CES 2020 sure did to win our best accessory award. The Soundform Elite Hi-Fi uniquely combines an Assistant smart speaker with a wireless charger.
The former aspect takes up most of the device and is available in black or gray/white. There are two 70mm woofers that have been designed to cancel out vibrations even at loud volumes, while physical controls allow play/pause, mute, volume, and Bluetooth pairing. Meanwhile, the top surface is angled just like the original Assistant speaker to ensure that your phone’s screen is fully visible when charging at up to 10W.
At over three years old, you might be thinking of replacing your original Google Home. Something like Belkin’s Soundform Elite Hi-Fi allows you to add additional functionality to your replacement, while not losing any Assistant capabilities in the process. Shipping in March, it costs $299.
Best Wear OS watch — Skagen Falster 3
Android makes possible a diverse ecosystem, and nowhere is that truer than Wear OS. At its core, wearables are fashion accessories — an expression of your taste that’s literally on your person for most of the day.
Thankfully, most of today’s Wear OS devices have met the minimum experience/specifications bar, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon Wear 3100 and 1 GB of RAM, so you can just choose which case design and strap is most appealing.
For us, at CES 2020, it’s the Skagen Falster 3. The watch is unapologetic in being a classical round timepiece. The bezel is smoothly curved and melds into the 1.3-inch OLED screen, while there’s a rotating crown on the right and two useful buttons above and below.
At 42 mm wide, both Ben and I found that it’s “equally comfortable on smaller and larger wrists.” Something we found equally delightful is the default band refresh:
The brown leather band now has a silicone layer underneath to combine style and comfort, and there’s a very attractive blue band which, despite being silicone, feels almost like fabric with its mesh texture.
Unlike other products announced at CES, it’s available for $295 today.
Reader’s choice — Lenovo IdeaPad Duet
While our Best of CES 2020 Chromebook was awarded to a $999 gadget, our reacher’s choice — as determined by your interest and clear enthusiasm in comments and feedback — is at the other end of the spectrum.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet is defined by its $279 price point and cute 10-inch size. Both clearly signal what kind of device you’re getting, and buyers will be happy with the value proposition. It’s great for casually browsing the full web and watching video in a pinch.
However, this device does not stop there. A detachable keyboard and fabric cover that features a kickstand are included in the box. If you need to do some Google Docs work, you can assemble everything and have a full-featured Chromebook.
So, should you buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet? We’ll answer that question in May when the Duet comes to market, and we’ve had a chance to review it, but based on my first impressions, I’m pretty confident that this will be an easy product to recommend, considering its $279 price tag.
- Google Assistant will soon let you schedule smart home commands
- Smart Displays adding sticky notes and speed dial card
- Google previews ‘read this page’ Assistant TTS command on Android
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