Welcome to the opening day of CES 2015. The floors everywhere in Las Vegas are packed solid with all the latest technology, and CNET will be streaming live all day. Among some of today’s highlights: Jeff Bakalar chats with Origin PC CEO Kevin Wasielewski, Tomorrow Daily live with special guest Jessica Chobot from Nerdist News. At 3:30 PT, we’ll look at The Next Big Thing: virtual reality, and later today, we’ll be talking to Wu Tang Clan’s RZA. And there’s plenty more throughout the rest of the day, so keep watching.
Jan 5th is Press Day here at CES 2015. That means CNET will be bringing you the latest news from big-name press conferences all day long, starting at 8 a.m. PT with LG Electronics. Panasonic, Dish, Toyota, Samsung and many others will also be in the mix throughout the day, and we’ve also got CES In Depth at 6 p.m. You’re not going to want to miss any of it, so watch it all.
Back in June we reported on the Airdog, a Kickstarter project we thought might become the ultimate GoPro sidekick. $1.3 million in funding later, the Airdog is about to start shipping out to backers and getting ready to go on sale later this year. Today at CES we got to check out this drone in person, and watch as it followed pro skater Madars Apsethrough some trick runs on the halfpipe. As drone become an increasingly mainstream consumer product, the next big leap will come from advancements in technology that allows the drones to autonomously fly, follow you, and avoid collisions. Airdog looks like a company with a lot of momentum on all three of those fronts.
Airdog is the product of Helico Aerospace Industries, a Latvian company founded by CEO Edgars Rozentals, who has been an internet entrepreneur for more than a decade. He’s been an action sports buff for a while, then got into flying model helicopters, followed by drones. Airdog was born of these passions, and built with the wealth of computer science and engineering talent that is available in Latvia.
With a top speed of 45 miles per hour and can stay aloft for 10-20 minutes depending on your speed and track your movements from up to 1000 feet away. The unit is currently available for pre-order at $1,295 and has a suggested retai price of $1,495. Since it’s meant for use outdoors and during rugged action sports, t’s water resistant and features fold up props so that the entire thing can easily fit into your average backpack.
Rozentals and his team began by simply connecting the drone to a smartphone in the user’s pocket, relying on GPS for position tracking. But that wasn’t very precise. “What we needed to do was both track your position and project where you would be next based on your motion,” explains Rozentals.
So the team added in the Airleash wristband, which is packed with accelerometers, gyroscopes, and other sensors that allow it to predict your movement and fly accordingly. Both the position and orientation of the drone, as well as the angle of the camera, are controlled by algorithms that communcate between the leash and the drone. The leash also has some manual controls that allow you to make adjustments to the Airdog while you’re riding without having to whip out your smartphone.
AIRDOG IS WORKING ON THE HOLY GRAIL OF DRONES: SENSE AND AVOIDNext up after following its target is having the Airdog sense and avoid obstacles. The company currently uses maps within its app, so that users can set areas as designated fly or no-fly zones, mark out obstacles like trees and buildings, and chart a race course they want the Airdog to follow them through. Next up is sensors on the drone that would allow it to actually see and avoid obstacles in real time, the holy grail of the drone industry that so far, nobody has been able to really implement.
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Dell is back with a brand new XPS 13 this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, and it looks like the best one yet. After gradually improving the screen with a new model last year, 2015’s XPS 13 will ship with an even better and truly beautiful 13.3-inch “infinity” display. It has an incredibly tiny 5.2mm bezel on the top and sides. While previous models of the XPS 13 have always had an impressively small bezel, the latest feels truly edge-to-edge, and it’s dazzling to look at. Dell hasn’t just stopped at thin bezels, though, and the 2015 model now has an optional 3200 x 1800 high-resolution touchscreen display. That’s a massive improvement over the 1366 x 768 resolution we disliked on the original.
Elsewhere, the construction is almost identical to previous versions, with machined aluminum and carbon fiber helping to keep the weight to 2.6 pounds or 2.8 pounds on the touchscreen versions. Dell is also using the latest fifth generation Intel Core i processors, starting at the Core i3 for the base model with options up to a Core i7 version. Memory options include only 4GB or 8GB, so that may disappoint some who are looking to use this as a daily workstation replacement thanks to the mini DisplayPort.
Dell is claiming the new XPS 13 is the “smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet,” thanks primarily to the 13.3-inch borderless display that’s squeezed into an 11-inch size laptop. That doesn’t affect the keyboard though, you’re still getting a full size backlit chiclet keyboard. Alongside that, Dell has vastly improved the trackpad. I usually hate most Windows laptop trackpads, but I was very surprised with the new XPS 13. It’s using a glass button and a precision trackpad, which is something Microsoft has been encouraging OEMs to implement. Precision trackpads allow Windows 8.1 to directly control the pointer, multi-touch, and gesture support in trackpads, making them feel more like a mini touch-screen with smoother scrolling and better zooming and panning support. Gliding around with the Dell XPS 13 felt very smooth, although we’ll need to review it fully to test exactly how good it is. Either way, you’ll want a precision trackpad on your next laptop.
DELL CLAIMS YOU’LL GET 15 HOURS OF BATTERY LIFEThe original XPS 13 had disappointing battery life, but that might not be the case with the 2015 edition. Dell is promising a massive 15 hours of battery life if you pick the 1920 x 1080 display option and a Core i5. That’s a huge claim we’ll have to test fully, but some of those gains are likely related to Intel’s Broadwell processor and the use of a power saving Sharp IGZO display. Dell is planning to release the new XPS 13 today in the US starting at $799 for the Core i3 model, all the way up to $1,899 for the Core i7 version with a QHD+ panel, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.
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