It’s that time of year: New Year’s resolutions are still being upheld, there’s fresh snow on the ground (depending on your geographic location), and Las Vegas, Nevada is swarming with people eager to get a look at the year’s best and newest tech—it’s CES season. We’ve gone to CES every year for the last four years and have seen some of the most innovative, exciting products, but 2019 has been by far the best.
Of the hundreds of products we saw at the event, here are our picks for the Best Of CES 2019. As a heads up, this is a rolling list, meaning we will be adding to it as we come across more neat products. If you have a product that you’d like to share with us for consideration on this list, please send us a message.
BLUETOOTH SPEAKER: House of Marley Get Together Mini
There are so many smart speakers on the market now, but House of Marley has set their new Get Together Mini apart from the crowd by going the eco-friendly route. Rather than the hard plastics used for most portable speakers, the Get Together Mini is made with bamboo, aluminum, and a mesh fabric.
Not only does the speaker have Bluetooth, but it’s also equipped with Google Assistant, meaning you have voice control over music playback and whatever else you like to ask Google.
SECURITY SYSTEM: Ooma Security Camera & System
Ooma, best known for its phone systems, announced a security system at CES 2019 that we think gets almost everything right. For starters, they created a wireless indoor/outdoor security camera that has facial recognition technology to tell strangers from family members.
Even more, the Oom security system is modular in the sense that you can purchase additional accessories, such as door/window sensors, a battery backup for the base station, motion sensors, sirens, smoke detectors, and more. The entire system is designed to be easy to set up and maintain. This is one of the simplest, yet most robust security systems we’ve seen to date.
HYDRATION: iHome Aquio BTB2 Speaker/Bottle
iHome introduced a portable speaker/water bottle combo. The bottle is BPA-free, made of stainless steel, has a 16oz capacity, and an attractive design.
If you’re headed out for a day of hiking or hanging out by the lake, a water bottle and a portable speaker are two things you’re likely bringing with you, but now it’s just one thing. We like that the speaker can be detached from the Aquio bottle, so if you just want to bring one, you can do that.
The bottle can apparently keep cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 14 hours. The Bluetooth speaker is completely water resistant (IP67) and has battery life of around six hours on a single charge.
SMARTWATCH: Matrix PowerWatch 2
Matrix took aim at the smartwatch battery-life problem when they introduced the Matrix PowerWatch and then the PowerWatch X, which use body heat to keep the device charged. Unfortunately, they weren’t the most impressive smartwatches in terms of features. But this year, they’ve presented the PowerWatch 2, which is one of the most innovative watches we’ve ever seen.
The newest iteration still uses body heat for charging, but also includes a solar cell for additional power. That extra power allows for more features, including a full-color LCD display, built-in GPS, a compass, and a HRM. Again, no charger necessary.
HEADPHONES: Jabra Elite 85h
The Jabra Elite 85H are some of the coolest headphones we’ve ever seen. The 85H utilize AI to automatically adjust the active noise cancellation based on your environment. As an example, if you’re on a busy train, the headphones will automatically recognize the sound and adjust the noise cancellation accordingly. And let me tell you, it works, and it works well. In this example, the 85H would turn the ANC all the way up and Hear-Through down to completely tune out the external noise.
In a different example—let’s say you’re sitting around at home where it’s presumably fairly quiet. The 85H would then automatically turn the ANC and Hear-Through off because they’re not necessary. You can also make manual adjustments within the Jabra smartphone app.
But the features don’t stop there. The 85H have Amazon Alexa built-in. As long as your phone is connected to the internet, you can access Alexa without clicking any buttons.
Even more, the headphones have proximity detection, meaning they automatically detect how they’re being used. So, for example, if you take them off your head, they will sense the movement and automatically pause your music. They can even tell if the headphones are around your neck.
The 85H have a battery life of up to 32 hours and a fast-charge feature where a 15 minutes of charging will get you five hours of audio playback.
EARBUDS: Wraps Wireless
We’ve tested a lot of earbuds, but none quite as unique as these. Wraps earbuds have been around for a while now, but the UK-based company was showcasing a new wireless option that had us saying, “Wow!”
If you aren’t familiar with Wraps, they make (mostly wired) earbuds that you can wear around your wrist so that you always have earbuds ready to go. They also double as a fasion-forward bracelet.
With their latest wireless model—which has yet to be released—Wraps has managed to accomplish a few things.
First, they do indeed function as an interesting looking bracelet. They also secure well in your ear once on, and since they have a semi-rigid cable they provide an almost true wireless experience because there’s no cord dangling around (i.e. the earbuds sit flush against your head).
MICROPHONE: Blue Ember
The Blue Ember microphone is exactly what you need to take your in-home broadcasting setup to the next level. This is Blue’s first consumer-grade microphone with an XLR connection.
Its slim design is intended to be minimally intrusive in small studio spaces and on-screen recordings. The Ember will likely end up being the gold standard microphone for early-stage podcasters and YouTubers.
SPORT WATCH: Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music LTE
This takes the best features of the Vivoactive 3 Music and adds LTE, making it the first LTE-enabled smartwatch from Garmin. So far, Verizon is the only network supported.
The LTE connection allows you to send and receive texts right on your wrist and enables a safety feature that will alert emergency contacts in the case of an accident. If the watch’s incident detection is triggered, your contacts will receive your real-time location.
SOUNDBAR: JBL Link Bar
We’ve used a lot of JBL audio products in the past, but the Link Bar just might be our favorite. This 100W stereo soundbar is equipped with Google Assistant and Android TV. All your HDMI cables plug into the soundbar, as well, meaning Google Assistant is reachable even if you’re watching movies or playing video games.
Other features include built-in Chromecast, Bluetooth audio streaming, and PrivacySwitch for the far-field microphones. The JBL Link Bar is one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that products. It’s four products in one and will completely erase the need to buy a setup box, smart speaker, Chromecast, and soundbar.