And so it begins again! According to my badge, it’s at least my 5th year at CES. Perhaps it’s been more, I’m honestly not sure. I’ll trust what they say though.
CES – The Consumer Electronics Show – Is the biggest and baddest ass gadget show on earth. Held roughly the first week of January each year in Las Vegas, it attracts hundreds of thousands of people, and thousands of companies are exhibiting. It stretches across not one, but two full convention centers here in Las Vegas. Of course, historically the show has been known for TV’s and related. But in the last few years fitness has found its place in the show.
In fact, these days fitness/health/sport device companies take up an entire exhibition hall of their own. It’s sprawling and continues to grow. Of course, we’ll see a wide variety of devices from companies this year, both majors and previously unheard of companies. But more on that in a second.
Any company that wants to succeed in the tech space is at CES. Period.
If a company is making a consumer electronics product, and they aren’t at CES in either a public or private manner – I’ll go out on a limb and say they’ll fail. Not because they need to present or exhibit at CES, but because it helps them understand the market and their competitors. I’ve talked to two startup companies over the last few weeks (who are just starting to ship products in a major market area) that aren’t going, even privately. Boggles my mind. This is where everyone is: Media, retailers, investors, distributors, analysts…everyone.
Which isn’t to say you need to have a booth. Far from it. Many companies (even major ones like Microsoft and Apple) have private suites hidden off the show floor. Those can be just as successful since they target high-value people to have discussions in a more private setting. Additionally, other companies will walk the show floor sans-booth, effectively presenting as needed on the fly. Also totally logical. But staying home altogether? A recipe for failure.
Note that I’m not saying companies like Quarq or PowerTap need to be here, they don’t intersect with the greater consumer electronics scene so much that it would matter (it’s a waste of time for them). But companies making wearables, general fitness/health sensors, consumer drones, action cams, etc… all should be here. If not, it’s a telling sign that they misunderstand the market.
The Rough Schedule:
The week ahead is looking pretty nuts as always. Here’s the rough rundown of how the show is structured:
Tuesday: Media-only events, various private events not on the show floor, demo’s outside of town, wrapping up with the CES Unveiled event at the end of the day (media-only). Generally speaking, companies at CES Unveiled will announce things that day. Versus companies at Pepcom (below) will announce things on Wednesday.
Wednesday: Tons more media-only events, the start of various announcements. Huge media-only event Wednesday evening with Pepcom (aka Digital Experience). Companies showing products at that event will have announced sometime that day. I don’t see a public listing of companies this year on a site anywhere to link to, though the PDF on that site for CES gives you the gist of companies from past years.
Thursday-Sunday: Show floor opens to public, craziness ensures. Many tens of thousands of steps per day walked.
This year is all awkward having the show on Thursday through Sunday. So companies are struggling a bit to find their stride on announcements. You’ll see some minor announcements come out Tuesday, with it growing on Wednesday, and everything announced by Thursday morning. There won’t typically be new announcements beyond Thursday morning, but of course I (like all media outlets), will still be catching up with companies over all the days.
In general, you’ll see major sports tech announcements show up here on the blog the second (literally) the embargo lifts. While more minor ones will be spread out over the full set of show-floor days.
(For those curious why my badge says Houston, it’s just where my US forwarding box is located.)
What to Expect:
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: Obviously, wearables will continue to be big. Optical HR sensors in watches are now considered baseline, and GPS appears to be on track to be standard issue for almost anything above $150. We’ll probably still see some outliers here on the GPS front of course. Additionally, we’re going to see a stronger divide between reasonably priced GPS devices, and this newer class of crazy-expensive GPS multisport devices (i.e. $500-$800 GPS watches). We’ll see a few companies tout new Android Wear 2.0 devices, but I get the feeling many companies aren’t sold on the idea yet – and are hedging bets at the moment. This year will be sink or swim for Android Wear as a platform.
I expect overall though we’ll see a strong set of new devices from a wide variety of manufacturers. However, I don’t think we’ll see anything earth shattering in terms of new features. I see this year as more of an evolutionary upgrade year, rather than a revolutionary one.
Sleep & Heart Rate Data: If I had a dollar for every heart-rate driven press release I got this past month… HR data is the new orange. Everyone wants to do something with it, yet not everyone can back up their claims or ideas. You’ll see terms like ‘Big data’ and ‘AI’ thrown about here, but none of it means anything. It’s just buzz words right now for most companies. Some of these products are absurdly expensive, to the point I wonder if they even sell more than a few dozen units to real consumers. And yet others may make good hardware, but fail at software. I can’t emphasize enough how important having a cohesive picture is here.
Running Efficiency Metrics: Another area that everyone wants to get into. Probably half a dozen or more devices have been floated over the last few weeks as ways to measure running efficiency. A fraction of these companies will survive. They must understand that their success is at this time *not* focusing on beginner runners, but rather more advanced runners. But to do that they’re going to have to prove their worth. Beginner runners simply don’t care enough to spend serious bucks on this tech. Some of these companies are also positioning themselves to be acquired, but what they also don’t understand is that the majors can do this type of tech by themselves (and already do). I wouldn’t want to be a company in this area.
Action Cams: You won’t see any new GoPro camera announcements here (except maybe commercial stuff), since that all happened this fall. Instead, you’ll see other brands, mostly lesser known ones. I suspect the one to watch may be DJI, to see if they take the jump into their own action camera lineup. Others like Nikon, Sony, and Ricoh all made announcements this fall in this realm, so it’s unlikely we’ll see advancements there. We will however see more companies dive into 360° action cams, but unless it’s a 4K image, it’s just not worth it.
Drone use in sports: We’ve seen this expand a ton over the last year, especially as companies have matured from Kickstarter entities into legit companies (i.e. Airdog). At the same time, we’ve also seen other crowd funded companies flutter around (i.e. Lily), and yet others die altogether (i.e. Zano). I suspect we’ll see plenty of lesser-known Asian brands demo their goods at the show, but it’s unlikely many of these will gain traction in North American/European consumer markets.
Everything else: 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, with a healthy dose of action camera goodness on the side.
A Bit of Assistance!
Of course, as much as I’d love to be able to visit all 3,800 exhibitors myself, I’ll likely only be able to tackle 3,613 before the show floor closes. As such, like past years I’ve enrolled some assistance to scoop up all the CES goodness related to sports/fitness/action cams.
For the past two years I had Randy Cantu helping me out on the show floor. Unfortunately, this year his real-life work schedule didn’t jive with the event. The good news is he’s still behind the scenes editing my posts as always (well, at least when I manage to give him more than 38 seconds of advance notice). 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.
But this year on the show floor I’ve got Tyler Ross with me. I’ve known Tyler for years, where ironically I was one of his interviewers on his interview circuit into the tech company I was working for. We were looking for the best candidate available. Regrettably, that person wasn’t available – so we picked Tyler instead. But actually, he had started reading the blog prior to meeting at the interview, which is kinda funny.
Since then he’s become immersed not just in tech, but also in sport. He’s completed the famous Beach2Battleship triathlon, as well as other running events. And is squeezing in training for a 70.3 later in the year, in between his full-time job in tech, as well as grad school. But mostly, he’s a gadget guy through and through.
For this week he’s putting in the miles on the show floor focusing a fair bit on action cams and related products, as well as various tangential things to sport and fitness that make CES unique and wonderful. That includes photographing and writing up pieces just like me. 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.
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.
Don’t forget to check out all my CES 2017 coverage, as well as my continual updates throughout the day on Twitter. It’s gonna be a crazy busy week!
Wish: A hyperlapse of walking through the show?
Actually, I’d like to see an action camera with a good battery life for 1-3 second interval photos, for hyperlapses. Currently, I believe every camera out there gets basically identical battery life for photo timelapses as for video. This shouldn’t be!
Have fun!! Are runscribe there, and do you plan a catchup with them? Interesting that their second Kickstarter, pushing the hardware to other uses to use as they wish, was pulled. Do they have a future?
I expect that a lot of people would like to know if the replacement for the Garmin Edge 1000 will be announced.
I expect that you already know the answer – and I expect that you’ve been already trying it out and that you know all about it.
Anyway, when it comes into the public domain – you know who your friends are!
do you expect that Garmin announced a successor for Forerunner 920XT?
For me 735XT is more a running watch with multisport features whereas 920XT is a multisport/triathlon watch.
Anyway, enjoy CES!
Hi, do you think they’ll be any news on the Garmin Fenix 5? I am really interested in a Garmin Watch with touchscreen and Optical HR … so even a Forerunner 635 would be good?
Based on the latest pictures 5 buttons so no touchscreen?
link to appelmoessite.wordpress.com
Thanks Pam, yeah I saw those and concur they look like it won’t have a touch screen but then they are not confirmed images 🙂
Also there are rumored to be a whole range of Fenix 5’s so maybe one of them will be a touch screen?
I’d be interested in a FR 635 as the 6xx range seem to be the touch screen devices.
Have you got the 4 already? 😉
Rumors are they will skip a Fenix 4 (apparently it’s an unlucky number in China).
Yep, that’s what I understand as the number 4 is similar sounding to the word “death” in Chinese?
I love my Fenix 3, but I’m not sure that Garmin could come up with anything at the moment that would make me jump to the next version (4 or 5!). I am sure it would have improved memory and processing hardware for more complex CIQ apps, but we just arent seeing those appear. Maybe it will store music and allow bluetooth streaming ? I’m happy with my ipod shuffle (maybe a Mighty depending on how the launch goes), dont want the watch battery to be hammered and dont want to have to charge headphones.
I’ll be watching with interest, but as Ray says above, it likely an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary, year.
uhm, I have a “plain” 3 and I’ll be willing to switch to a 5HR if the price is right and/or if it has some functionality that interests me a lot. I have to confess that I’m excited 🙂
I’m excited because I’m a tech geek, and will probably update anyway! I too have a basic F3, but don’t want a device with inbuilt hr until the accuracy is proven. Even then, I see a problem is cold weather where I want to wear sleeves.
Same here tech geek and on the same boat, I dont have yet a HR watch and I want to try it, I am super happy with my F3 and I wouldn’t mind to use the band sometimes if I upgrade to F5, but honestly I have more issues with cold weather with the band than in hot days (sweat, humidity issues maybe), what happens to me is that I go to the gym and 50% of the times I forget my band so having the HR on the wrist as a backup would not hurt, I might still prefer the band for most activities tho.
Yeh – I see. I use a rhythm+ and in the winter it can spike at the start of the run. I assume wrist based would be even worse. But it may be that we don’t have a choice, and the hr becomes universal.
Anyone able to comment on the impact that the inbuilt hr has on battery?
Here it is:
link to buy.garmin.com
Thanks for keeping us informed and up to speed on all the new in sports tech from over there!
Ray – Why are you listed as from Houston rather than Paris?
Thanks for everything you do.
I’d really really like to know about developments in the world of heads up displays for cyclists.
Ideally, real HUD – not just some miniature screen in your left eye. EverySight seems to be about the only company with a project like this in the works – although it seems to be a very long time coming.
I was hoping to see a Parrot Bebop 3 in a more compact format and with better video. A Parrot representative hinted at such possibility in a recent interview but I’m not sure about the timing – the promotions that were going on on Parrot’s products including Bebop 2 have just stopped in Europe.
Other than that I’m looking forward to a FR920 replacement with integrated HR (no touchscreen please, big fat buttons is what you need if train/compete hard 😉 )
A few colleagues agree with only wanting buttons, and its personal preference, but IMO you cannot have a ‘proper’ smart watch without having a touchscreen! I personally want an all-in-one device that does smart notifications, etc., but is also a full on running watch / sport watch. Garmin has included those ‘smart’ features in recent watches and when paying all that money its not unreasonable to want something that does for all occasions otherwise it gets costly having 2 x watches.
Up until recently I had a Forerunner 630 that proves that Garmin can make a viable touchscreen sport watch – and its buttons can be used to start / stop activities. If it had an optical HR I’d have kept it so hoping they release an FR635 if the Fenix 5 doesnt have touchscreen.
Regarding Garmin/Polar/Suunto. Rather than focusing on outrageous pricing, how about they lower the price for their (beta) products? I can’t believe consumers are willing to drop $800 on a running/triathlon/fitness smart watch. I like the tech, but the costs don’t justify the deficiencies. For that price, these things should work flawlessly.
I would be interested to know if strava live segments will be available on any other existing or new running watches in the future? I currently have the Fenix 3 HR and much prefer it to the 735xt which obviously has this feature, surely we must be close to some news one way or another? Many thanks Gary
“Any company that wants to succeed in the tech space is at CES. Period.”
One notable exception: Apple
“Which isn’t to say you need to have a booth. Far from it. Many companies (even major ones like Microsoft and Apple) have private suites hidden off the show floor.”
“Which isn’t to say you need to have a booth. Far from it. Many companies (even major ones like Microsoft and Apple) have private suites hidden off the show floor.”
I think Phil’s point is that Apple aren’t at CES.
Except Phil missed the point.
Companies like Microsoft, Apple, and others that aren’t on the *public* show floor, are instead *privately* meeting in suites on the Strip. Whether you’re publicly there or privately there doesn’t so much matter – as long as you’re there.
When a company tells me they aren’t going at all (private or public), it’s a big red flag.
Can you share what days you would expect Garmin, Polar, and Suunto to make their announcements? Trying to plan my meetings this week at work so I can dig into the announcements 🙂
If you get a chance to go by Mio, will you let me know your impression of the SLICE and any improvements made with their PAI 2.0 app? There’s been one review of the device already since Mio is doing a prelim release via Brookstone. That review gave some notable shortcomings but Mio contends they are taking feedback and have some updates already planned for the app that will help with the issues noted. I’m truly curious as to their ideas for direction.
Ray, any word from Garmin on what is going on with the crazy altimeter and barometer readings on the fenix 3 hr. I am currently sitting at about 400′ above sea level but my fenix 3 hr is telling me I am at 65,000′. I read somewhere that you were going to ask Garmin about the issue at CES. Thanks
Can you find out why 4iiii didn’t release the right-side PRECISION for Ultegra yet? What’s the difficulty given the fact they already have a successfull Dura Ace version?
Ray- I see that Kuai Wear is going to be a CES. I would be interested in your opinion on where they really are on shipping out products. It seems Kuai Wear is always saying the ship date is just around the corner, only to announce another 1 or 2 month delay. It seams like you were impressed with the hardware last year and they use your positive comments as a sort of endorsement on their website.
I wonder if someone will come out with something like the Pebble Core. Seemed like a great little device with lots of potential that was killed by Fitbit. Can you keep an eye out if someone moves into that space?
What? Only 3613 out of 3800? You are getting lazy 😉
Happy New Year and welcome to your crazy busy month Ray. Looking forward to your CES coverage. I would love to read your thoughts on iPhone gimbals. I have not made the leap to an action camera or drone yet but use my phone in a waterproof case for photos and video while riding, spectating and generally being active outdoors. I think a gimbal would be a handy enhancement.
Another year at CES! Maybe I’ll run into you in the hotel convenience store again.
Any DCR meet ups this year? I’ve got my Garmin Fenix 3 HR ready to go on counting my steps on the show floor this year.
Any chance you could take a look at QardioCore? I understand they’re now launching the product. But they’re implying on their website that you should only use it with guidance from your Dr. Keen to know why the average person can’t see all the data?
Taken from their website…
You will not be able to view your recordings or utilize any of QardioCore’s analytical tools until you are under the care of a physician.QardioCore has features that are only available to those users who are under the care of a physician. These features are available to prescription users only and may not be available in all regions or all languages. To gain access to these features, you must create an account on the Qardio App. The one minute of your first recording will then be automatically sent for a free analysis by a cardiologist. Once you have received the ECG analysis, you will have an access to viewing that recording and subsequent recordings.
I imagine it could be something they’ve needed to do get FDA approval to sell it in the US. The FDA requirements can lead to some really stupid PITA restrictions, which are even more annoying when you don’t even live in the USA – for example with my Withings blood pressure monitor, if I want it to take 3 consecutive readings and average them rather than just take one reading, I have to remember to select the option to do this every time thanks to the FDA.
Hi Ray, don’t know if you’ve heard of the Motiv activity tracker ring: http://mymotiv.com seems very interesting to me! It’s available for pre-order now but I’ll definitely need your take first!
I’d be interested in any news or updates on the scosche rhythm+ front. Maybe it’s a dying market for them with most watches having built in HR, but I ‘d be up for a next gen scosche.
I’d like to know what happened to Wahoo’s plans to add BLE / ANT+ bridge support to the KICKR trainers. This would have been a great feature so to avoid replacing existing sensors.
Love to know about this too!
It seems, that there will be a Fenix 5S at least, and it should be announced during CES.
link to ces.tech
Do we know about the schedule of Garmin’s announcement yet?
link to ces.tech
link to buy.garmin.com – according to German page of Garmin, there will be Fenix 5 and 5S (both @ 6009 Eur) and 5X (@ 750 Eur)
Ray, when will be lifted your embargo?
typo: Fenix 5 and 5S are for 600 Eur – 599.99 to be precise 😉
Thanks for the pics- 5x – Is there really written maps (Karten)????
link to buy.garmin.com
yeah! the 5x has maps & routing (rountrip – for cycling like the edge 1000).
the price though …. PUH! 750 Euro!! POWWW!
I wonder if and how Ray missed the end of the embargo?
And I agree with the pricing. Garmin is crazy. 400 for a multisport watch would be hefty, but 750??
I didn’t miss any embargo…
yep – ouch on the pricing !
c’mon ray – we need the full lowdown
hey Ray – no hard feelings!
“c’mon ray – we need the full lowdown” that’s what I was getting at 😉 We’re eager!
Re Fenix 5
1) “Design in steel with EXO stainless steel antenna in the bezel and back in welded stainless steel” is it a novelty vs F3?
2) btw just when checking the German site I realized that they removed F5 variants from the wearables list. So first they were in the first cause they are new (and expensive) products but in 5 mins later nowhere
3) i couldnt figure out whether silver will be available in F5 family as a bezel, but in Germany there is only grey variant of F3 HR. One should know that in Europe Garmin sold the silver F3 HR aggressively. On amazon.de I could see EUR 377 just two days ago, and it was not even a Lightning deal (one can check the price tracker sites)
Ray, can you share your opinion about it after you will have collected some info? It sounds me either silver was labeled as a premium solution or it was/is a subvariant of F3 HR distributed/ tested in Europe. I know I went too far with my intuition, but who knows.
Sorry some words missing:
1. I meant it is the translation from the German description of F5.
2. I meant they were in the first places of the list
3. I meant that on garmin Germany NOW there is no silver variants
2. They are visible again. It must have been just a glitch
3. I have found silver F3HR as a color (!) subvariant as a grey F3 without HR. Phhh
Hi Ray, since the Fenix 5 won’t be having a touchscreen (and appreciate I seem to be the only one who wants this) do you have any information on an FR 635 that you are able to share?
another fenix ?? it seems that the 900 family of triathlon watches is not a priority in garmin …
Fenix 5 Series is live on Garmin.com.
I was initially “meh” when it first leaked a few weeks ago, but now that I see the “5X” has optical HR AND mapping, well now it’s got my interest.
Physical dimensions on the “5X” show at the same outer dimension as the fenix 3 but but the thickness is 17.5mm for the 5X and 16mm for the fenix 3. I can’t imagine wearing too much of a larger watch then my current fenix 3….but to have onboard maps…maybe.
Does ‘mapping’ actually mean though? Downloaded maps with full street names etc, or navigation and breadcrumb trails as now?
“A Full-color Roadmap to Success
Whether you’re in the city or on the trail, an array of fēnix 5X on-watch mapping and navigation features help keep you oriented and on-course at a glance.
Full-color TOPO U.S. mapping that comes preloaded; map data is optimized for at-a-glance navigation and location tracking on your wrist
Round-trip Run and Round-trip Ride routing options give runners and cyclists the ability to enter a distance they want to travel and have the watch suggest appropriate courses
Easy-to-read guidance cues provide banners on the display that show upcoming turns
Around Me map mode displays locations nearby in a simplified graphical interface that increases awareness and ease when navigating in unfamiliar environments
Data overlays on the map highlight key information so you don’t have to switch screens while in an activity
GroupTrack allows you to keep tabs on your buddies for adventures such as skiing; LiveTrack allows friends to follow your adventures in real time²”
Thanks. Not really a biggy for me. I see the 5x has large amounts of storage, shame there is no mention of music support. Wonder if that will come?
For me, I like the increased battery life, and the choice of a smaller watch for a tradeoff in battery. But other than that, very much evolution rather than revolution.
I tried to translate the German site, but could not find information if optical HR works under water or not. If it does not I am not sure if I can explain to myself why I would pay that much extra over F3HR and buy F5.
So hopefully you Ray have had the F5 already some days and tested this and can share the info just after F5 is actually released.
On the garmin site there is no additional information as far as I see. So no info about optical HR under water. Would be nice though. 😉
The Fenix watches are just beautiful. I would totally buy them if they would not be as thick as a tank on the wrist (and I am more the big guy type). If I look into the shops it seems to be a trend to use bigger watches. I just can not imagine why people like that.
But ok, hope one of the next versions will be smaller to wear it all day.
Also I am still not sure if Garmin actually has to replace the 920xt. An optical HR would be nice but is not neccessary. I still would like an upgraded 920 with the same battery life, probably smaller thickness and optical HR. Love this watch since I got it 😉
there will be a smaller 42mm version, the fenix 5s 🙂
The info is now also on the US Garmin website:
link to support.garmin.com
i am not sure what garmin tries to achieve with another fenix … the map functionality seems like a nice upgrade, but can you use it appropriately (epix??). 750Euros is a lot of money …. flagship smartphone money 😀
For those interested in the Fenix 5 series, you can see my full post on it here: link to dcrainmaker.com
is there a successor comming for the Forerunner 630 / 920 XT during the CES2017?
In a lot of shops I look for the Forerunner 630 it is not available anymore…
The same with the Forerunner 920 xt…
Or all of these watches getting replaced by the Fenix 5?
There are no further Garmin announcements at CES.
Well, with the exception of some handheld stuff I’ll post about later today and a few odds and ends on the software side that you’ll see a post show up about in a few hours.
Thx a lot for your honest answer Ray!
Think I’ll have to get a Forerunner 630 somewhere fast 🙂
Last question: will Polar anounce a new ‘wearable’?
I read already about the special shirt with build in heart rate sensors and gps… but for pro’s only…
I can see on Clever Training Europe that they are having an excellent Forerunner 910 XT deal. Can I use my HRM-RUNv2 heart rate strap with this watch or is it not compatible?
So Ray do think this could means something about their planes for the 9xx series ?
5 Fenix series vs 2 9xx series with the last one (the 920xt) in oct 2014 !!!
Could the 920 be the last one ?
obviously i’m asking only for opinions 🙂
I think, for what we have seen, that the 930xt will be more revolutionary than evolutionary (like fenix 5 is). So we have to wait, maybe to spring or next Kona (october…)
Will you take a look at LifeBEAM’s “Vi. The First True Artificial Intelligence Personal Trainer”?
Interesting to see you mention Android Wear as I didn’t really think that was on your radar. Do you think you will do a review of Android Wear 2 when it comes out?
Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think you’ve ever done a review of Android wear have you?
Enjoy the show!
How come the new vivoctive hr got discontinued so quickly? Have tried to find out why but unsuccessful.
Have fun and super jealous!
Nope, it’s not discontinued. Continues to be one of their best sellers (and also less than a year old).
Thanks – when we looked on Amazon it said (discontinued by manufacturer) and we got worried. It’s our biggest selling watch here!
[PS, “jibe” not “jive”]
Yes – All prepared for the next generation of Garmin 1000. Hopefully we hear some news!
What’s your takeaway this year? Wearables per, The Verge,appear to be slowing down.