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Welcome to CES 2015!

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Yup, today kicks off another year at the biggest and most important gadget show on earth – the Consumer Electronics Show – aka CES.  Held in Las Vegas each year the first full week of January, this event has long since been the announcement grounds for TVs and other consumer devices.  But over the past few years that’s been shifting to include more and more fitness/sport and health related devices.

This year more than ever we’ll see an explosion of wearables from both companies that you know well in this market area, to new ones you’ve never heard of.

(For those curious why it says Houston, it’s just where my US forwarding box is located.)

A Rough Schedule:

The week ahead is looking pretty nuts.  Here’s the rough rundown of how the show is structured:

Sunday: Media-only day, various private events not on the show floor, demo’s outside of town, wrapping up with CES Unveiled event at the end of the day.
Monday: Another media-focused day, show floor isn’t open yet.  Everything is mostly private PR events and a number of media-only bigger events later in the day including a Bluetooth focused event and the PEPCOM event.
Tuesday – Friday: Show floor opens, chaos ensues.  Gazillions of miles walked.

In general, most announcements are made on Monday morning, with a few companies getting a jump start on things Sunday…just because they can.

When I look at the week ahead, here’s where I expect most of the announcements that I’ll care about to be focused on:

Wearables: While this is a broad category, expect to see more wearable devices than ever before.  This will run the gamut from heart rate sensors in crazy ways you’ve not seen before, to sensing fabrics and then just straight up connected watches and bands.

Smart Watches: Lots more here of course, but don’t expect a ton from the major phone companies (i.e. LG/Samsung/etc…).  Those will likely come 6 weeks from now at MWC (Mobile World Congress) in Barcelona, which is heavily Android focused.

Activity Trackers: Everyone and their brother along with their mother will have these this year. I’ll be focusing on ones that exhibit a low level of suck.  You’ll see a ton of knockoff devices, but only the ones that have a complete/cohesive picture will get my attention.

Running stuffs and related watches: Yup, they’ll be some of these, no doubt!  More on that….later.

Action Cams: While you won’t see any GoPro announcements here, you’ll see many others, including a number lined up for 360° action cam announcements.

Drone use in sports: This is another area with at least 3-4 companies on my agenda for private demos this week of follow-me functionality in aerial imaging devices.  These copters will be your private camera man in the sky during activities like cycling and running – autonomously following you.  While there’s still a lot of work to be done in this segment, the framework is being laid.  Expect a full roundup next week with tons of demo video of all the major players from my various meetings with them out in the desert.

Of course, outside of these categories there’ll be a few other random items as well that might interest me – such as sleep tracking and anything else that’s fitness related.  But what you won’t see here is stuff on TV’s or the like.  I’m keeping it sport/fitness/health focused.

A bit of assistance!

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While I was able to keep my head kinda-sorta above water last year at CES, this year there was simply no way I’d be able to cover the massive onslaught of companies announcing new fitness related devices.  So, I got a bit of help.  Let me introduce Randy Cantu to you!

Randy’s actually been helping me behind the scenes for about a year and a half now, mostly doing editing of my posts.  He’s helped to take my generally unintelligible rambling thoughts and make sure they made sense for you.  Of course, I’m an editor’s nightmare in that I often click publish and then ask to have it edited.  Still, he does a bang-up job of getting things all cleaned up, regardless of my timing.

For this week he’s also putting in the miles on the show floor tracking down products around the trade show and then photographing and writing up pieces just like me.  The tables will be slightly turned in that I’ll edit prior to publishing (and add my thoughts as applicable), but he’ll be doing the hard work.  You can always see who wrote what just at the top of each post.  And if I have a ‘Ray’s take’ on things – I’ll note that in the post.

Of course, Randy is a longtime triathlete and runner – living in Georgia for most of the year but also spending a lot of time in Boulder.  Randy has done multiple marathons, is an Ironman finisher and in his spare time trains for 70.3’s and 1/2 marathons.

With that – let’s get ready for a busy week!  If you’ve got any special requests for companies to check out (or specific questions for companies that aren’t support-related), definitely drop a note below and I’ll be sure one of us can swing by them.

Welcome to CES 2015! Don’t forget to check out all my CES 2015 coverage, as well as my continual updates throughout the day on Twitter.  It’s gonna be a crazy busy week!

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55 Comments

  1. a_circelli

    new running watch? Uhm…. polar? I don’t think… suunto? Sure not… Garmin? Fenix 3?no… Maybe minor sport brand (tom tom, mio, 4iiii,..,)?

    • Dave lusty

      Lol I think if Polar announce new hardware they’ll get lynched after the year they’ve had 🙂
      I’d love to see a Fenix 3 with some of the 920XT features, especially the screen and massive battery life. There are so many things my Fenix 2 does that the 920 can’t I would probably buy the next gen Fenix as well. Weirdly I’d even quite like to see it bigger as sometimes I carry the gpsmap62 while running for the better mapping support while the 920 records the data

    • runner

      Polar already have their new A300 activity & fitness smartwatch on their home page. It doesn’t have GPS, so it’s basically a vivofit with a larger display, a vibration alarm and some Polar-specific features.

    • Dave Lusty

      I’m going to be so poor in 2015..

      link to buy.garmin.com is exactly what I mentioned above, and there is a new Fenix too

    • Tosin Akinmusuru

      Do you think they’ll come out with a Fenix 3? If they do, it probably won’t have the storage, maps, or subscription. Probably just upgraded to touch screen and color but still keeping the round form factor.

      The Epix is pretty phenomenal, and for all the things the Fenix does, swim, bike, run, dedicated multisport. I’m supposed to be buying a new bike not looking at new watches.

    • Gunnar

      Wow, just looked at the Garmin site….a new fenix watch (3) and the epix with built in maps. Both look great. Very glad I’ve been living with my old 310xt and didn’t pull the trigger on the 920xt.

  2. Tosin Akinmusuru

    You should try to meet Marques Brownlee aka @MKBHD on all social media, but primarily YouTube. I think it would be a great meeting of the minds.

  3. Matt

    Welcome to Vegas! My home away from home.

  4. Jeff Waters

    Great! Really looking forward to your coverage.

    Really hoping there’s a good running watch with the following:
    – 3 month+ battery change or recharge cycle
    – BT connection to MapMyRun with live stats and next turn directions on watch face
    – a clock
    – vibrating alarm
    – waterproof
    – not too ugly

  5. @Ray Maker “I’ll be focusing on ones that exhibit a low level of suck.” This phrasing… made my day! 😀

  6. Francis C

    Woot! Can’t wait to see the goodies. Have fun and thanks in advance!

  7. Austin

    Do you anticipate any news in regard to a updated edge 810? Or what would you expect the development cycle for the new to be?

    • MattB

      Garmin have got themselves in a tricky spot here I think. The 810 already does a huge amount of what the 1000 does, especially after the update last week. Beyond a hardware revamp (smaller, lighter, better screen resolution), I don’t see what they can do to improve the 810 without cannibalising the 1000’s sales (not that that’s necessarily a bad thing from the consumer’s point of view), and even those might push a fair number of people to the (presumably) cheaper ‘820’. Current 1000 owners will expect anything new like live Strava segments to come to them too given they are the top-of-the-line unit (and assuming Strava don’t do this themselves shortly anyway on ConnectIQ). Also if they made a smaller 810, it would kind of snooker the 510, and the one thing Garmin doesn’t seem keen on in bike units is dropping the old outdated ones out of production (thankfully – please keep selling 500’s a bit longer!). I’d almost expect to see an updated 1000 (1010, or is that too clunky?) first, though even that seems a bit too much like new for new’s sake rather than being able to add something groundbreaking that would drive sales. It’ll be interesting to see what Garmin come up with here!

  8. Do you anticipate any news in regard to a updated edge 810? Or what would you expect the development cycle for the new to be?

    • Garmin has no further announcements for CES.

      I don’t think we’ll see an Edge 810 replacement anytime soon. They’ve just done a major firmware update a week or two ago, and there’s nothing out there that’s truly competitive with it.

  9. James

    I will be there trolling the show floor too, hope to run into you Ray!

  10. Scott Buchanan

    Will be interesting to see what if anything Garmin has lined up for the Virb 2 (higher res recording?) and the Vivofit line of AT’s (VivoSmart and its 5? day battery life…. humbug!)

    Am really happy with the FR620. On release it really surprised me as I didn’t think the FR610 could be improved SO if Garmin want to surprise me again with a FR630 then fire away!

    Might possibly be interested in a Fenix 3 depending on feature set and styling.

    Will be FIRST in the queue for a Swim 2 with BT! Hint hint Garmin!!!

    Also, last but not least credit where credits due I’m sure like me everyone else that reads this blog would like to thank Randy Cantu for his help and input with this first class blog. Cheers!

  11. Mike

    Since nobody mentioned this yet: Welcome Randy! It’s great to hear you’re able to help this blog and Ray. Lots of us have pondered how in this world Ray is able to keep up his training, renovations, work, private life and what not. I am sure you’re a great guy or else he wouldn’t have picked you!

  12. Peter K

    Hoping for some updates on Connect IQ- would make sense for Garmin to release additional devices that support this to fan the fires?!

  13. matthew

    So the new activity monitors with inbuilt Hr? What’s the go with them? Major issues managing work and cycling and thought this could and an item to look at

  14. Maarten

    On your posts I read swimmers use watch for recording HRM and a strap next to it to sense heart rate. Since we stuck for now with 2.4 Ghz communication… I would be curious if there is more on integration of optical sensors in watches, I personally like the approach in the link below.

    link to ablogtowatch.com

  15. maxbre

    Yes, welcome Randy… nice to hear that somebody is helping Ray!
    Ciao

  16. Dave

    Going to wear an activity tracker for steps walked on the floor? Over / under on distance walked?

  17. MAGNUS

    I’m headed there later in the week and hope I have enought time to see everything I need/want to see. I for one am interested in pretty much everyone CES has to offer (ie TV’s, audio/video and all things gadgetry) so I’m pretty excited about the trip.

    I’ll keep an eye out for you Ray. Hopefully get a chance to say “thanks” for posts/reviews.

  18. Craig

    I’m wondering if Garmin will have anything new in the ‘outdoor’ range. It’s been a few years since the Etrex 30 – seems like its due an update.

  19. Steve Fines

    Word on the street is that Sony is coming out with some 4k action cams. Look forward to seeing those.

  20. Brian B

    Nice, looking forward to your (and Randy’s) coverage of the show. I’ll be there all week as well but on booth duty for my company. Looking forward to breaking away and seeing the show floor a bit. Hope to run into you there.

    Any DCR events/gatherings during the week? I imagine a decent # of your readers will be at the show.

    • Yeah, I’d love to be able to do some sort of get together some year. Right now it’s tricky in that my schedule is jam-packed with meetings with industry folks all day…every day. :-/

    • Brian B

      Small world running into you this evening in HGVC, even if only for a few minutes. Feels like meeting someone famous! Hope you are enjoying the show. If you have interest/time for meeting up for an AM run or a drink after the show it would be great to chat.

  21. jcg112

    Sports drones? Wow, didn’t realize there was that kind of work going on in this area. As someone who has been involved in RC planes for a number of years, this certainly has piqued my curiosity. I haven’t tested the drone waters yet, but I think I could part with some of the fleet to do so.

  22. Francis C

    Hi Ray,

    Would love a confirmation of where Recon Jet is. I’ve been waiting for them to push their product out. I’m waiting for real reviews from real people since they have been talking about launching for quite a while now. Thanks Ray! Happy New Year!

  23. Dan

    Biggest announcement of CES: The Rainmaker Empire grows to three. We already count The Girl, and I have to admit I thought the third would be significantly smaller!

    Congrats Ray!

  24. falconeye

    Hi Ray,

    I am really curious what you think about the new Inspire 1. (I hope you visit DJI). Unfortunately it is a little bit pricey, but the design and look of this drone is really impressiv. I really think about to buy one, when the price has come down a little bit. They just showed their new camera mount for the Inspire camera. So you would have a stabilized camera on the ground too. Not to bay either. Unfortunately no price available up till now.
    Cheers

    • I think it’s awesome. But, like you, the price is just a deal killer for me.

      I played around with the new ground mount today a bit. Cool stuff, but the bummer is that you can’t buy the camera separately (nor do they have a price for the mount), so you have to buy the Inspire.

      That said, the rest of the market is plummeting in terms of price and increased functionality – and I wonder if DJI is making the right choices there with increasing in cost. Sure it’s a different line than the Phantom series, but with GoPro on the verge of releasing something – I feel like DJI might be taking their focus off the ball a bit…

    • falconeye

      Perhaps they change their mind in a few months and you can buy the camera then alone with the ground mount. The problem with the Inspire is, in my opinion, that it is not a fully professional platform, because the camera is not good enough for really professional productions. (Perhaps it will be possible to upgrade the camera in the future). But on the other hand for an amateur like me, it is too expensive. The pros will go with the S1000 or another company. But I love the concept of “transforming” the landing gear. Really cool. Perhaps Garmin
      reveals some news on their drone this week.
      Thank you for your answer despite your busy week … and much fun on the CES.
      Cheers

    • falconeye

      Sorry, I meant GoPro not Garmin.

  25. For those curious, here ya go…

    Garmin announces the Fenix3 Multisport GPS watch. Here’s my hands-on thoughts about the actually stylish looking unit: link to dcra.in

    Hands-on with Garmin’s newest (and probably coolest) watch – the Vivoactive GPS Smartwatch, along with the Vivofit2: link to dcra.in

    First look at the new Garmin Epix GPS multisport and hiking watch with full color downloadable maps: link to dcra.in

  26. atlantis

    sony’s smartwatch : link to gigaom.com

    recon jet : vaporware ?

    can you also investigate the jawbone up3 delay ? what was the purpose of missing an ideal launch window ? software or hardware issue ?

    Thx

  27. Maxim

    I wonder if there are any new (or cheaper) power meters… 4iii Precision? New $499 Vectors?

  28. Tim

    Ray,

    His name is “Randy”? Are you sure your new assistant isn’t Jeff Goldblum? Sure looks like him, and I haven’t seen Goldblum in anything lately. Just sayin…

    • Randy Cantu

      Yeah, I get mistaken for Jeff Goldblum quite frequently, it’s a curse and a blessing. On other days I get mistaken for Chevy Chase.

  29. Drew W

    Randy…Great to see a Georgia boy on the team! ATL resident here doing Augusta 70.3 this year.

    Ray/Randy…I can’t wait to see what 4iiii has to say about the Precision power meter & it’s timeline. That’s my most anticipated review of CES.

    • Drew, I’m in Augusta, but not sure yet if I’m doing the 70.3 again this year, lots of travel and work around that time. But it’s s great race, huge local support, and a downhill swim!

      Ray just posted a 4iiii’s PM update earlier today. Check it out.

  30. Jonathan

    Hi. Anything to rival the Fenix3 or Epix from the likes of Suunto or TomTom? Would very much like an Ambit4 with things like vibration alert finally added. How about Fenix or Epix with one of those new sticky-on HRM things rather than a strap???

    • Given the Ambit3 just came out in September (shipping), I don’t think we’ll see anything anytime soon. I think they’re in a pretty rough spot right now competitively.

      I wouldn’t expect TomTom to fight in that space. I expect them to continue to focus on the low-mid range.

  31. Looking at any of the devices that track sleep? (withings, beddit, link to sleepace.cn )
    Or those that help improve your sleep? (Sleep Shepard (http://sleephat.com), withings, dusk or dawn simulators like holi)