CES 2017 is now a memory, but there was a ton of cool stuff to see. From fishing drones to self driving cars and plenty a virtual reality rigs. What was the best? Well, Engadget has their official ‘Best Of’ awards, and we have ours. And for film and video production, there’s plenty to get excited about.
Cameras. Engadget didn’t give a Best of CES award to a camera, and I think this is largely because there wasn’t a lot of that grabbed people’s attention, at least enough to get a competition going. But I can’t help but give our “doddle D” to Panasonic for the Lumix GH5. The killer improvement of this modest upgrade is the GH5 no longer as a 4K crop factor. You can record in ultra high definition across the entire micro four thirds image sensor. On top of that, it has dual image stabilization that teams the camera image stabilizer (IS) with the lens IS for a rock steady image. I think we’d be hard pressed to find a camera that could match it. For a tock upgrade in the tick-tock development cycle, the GH5 is one of the best I’ve seen. Certainly not just “fins.”
For us, honorable mention camera from CES 2017 goes to the Insta360 Pro 8K camera. Insta360 should also get an award for timing, as they got noticed last week thanks to Twitter integrating live 360° streaming through their mobile 360 camera accessory for the iPhone. And then they came to Las Vegas with a beast of a VR camera that’s about the size of a small bowling ball, and can capture 8K video from nine cameras wrapped around its equator. If you want to stream live, then it stitch the video in 4K as well. The Pro also supports HDR and Raw formats, can take 60 MP 360° stills, and record in 4K at 100 frames per second.
PCs. This was a close one, to be sure, because one PC that made its debut at CES this year grabbed all the headlines for its innovative design, but sadly, the maker of it has a track record of turning heads, and then letting designs languish into vaporware (we’ll get to that in a moment). With that in mind, Engadget decided to give the Best PC award to a computer that would definitely come to market … the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. This convertible laptop is an upgrade from the previous XPS with the ability to fold backwards into a tablet mode and with Intel’s latest processor, screams with performance.
But for editing, I’m still going to go with Razer’s Project Valerie. One look at the image to the right and it’s easy to see why. It’s a laptop that has three 4K screens that can collapse for easy storage. But what you may not know is that it comes with the new desktop-size NVidia 1080 Graphics processor, which not only drives all three screens, but thanks to Thunderbolt 3 connections, can drive two more with little lag. So the Valerie laptop can run 4K on 5 screens at once! If you’re editing on location and trying to get dailies out, it’s easy to see how this laptop would be heaven sent thanks to all that real estate, and with gaming in mind, performance is definitely going to be there. But the question is, will Razer bring it to market? I sure hope so, because it could definitely be a game changer if they do (and could cost $10,000 USD). That also makes it Best in Show for us, but albeit provisionally.
Virtual Reality. Although VR was everywhere at CES 2017, the official Engadget awards chose not to give an award for the category, which I find a bit puzzling. Although I’m on record as being nonplussed about the current state of virtual reality as a story telling medium, I do appreciate that when it comes to filming in virtual reality, the ability to bring real world items into the virtual space would be a benefit. This is where HTC’s Vive Tracker takes the prize. This three pronged cap can be strapped on or affixed to any device and then brings it into the virtual space. Designers will still have to create the device in CG, but the motion capture data will be there to bring it to life.
HTC also upgraded their Vive headset to make it wireless, thanks to TPCast and adds improved audio to the headset with Audio Strap. So HTC gets the trifecta for the best virtual reality device, from a filmmaking and from a content consumption point of view. Now let’s get to work improving that resolution!
Best Monitor. There really was only one choice at CES 2017 that truly impressed, and it was the Dell Ultra Sharp 32 8K monitor. Driving an incredible 32,200,000 pixels and 1.07 billion colors, an editor will likely never be able to see all the sharpness and subtle color variances that this monitor provides. It supports Adobe RGB and sRGB for HDR and for $4995, it’s well worth it for those shooting and then editing in 8K.
Best Drone. Engadget’s Best of CES 2017 award went to the Uvify Draco Drone. It can reach speeds of 70 mph, and up to 100 mph in a straight line. You need first person view if you’re going to run that fast, and the Draco has a 40 channel FPV in order to fly it without any interference. Thanks to its GPS and flight assist modes, Engadget calls it the racing drone for everyone.
But being a racing drone, even though it has a forward facing camera, I don’t see how it helps the filmmaking crowd all that much. That’s why I’m still impressed with the GDU Byrd Premium 2.0. The Byrd’s modular design allows the filmmaker to bring different cameras to the party, from DSLRs to GoPros. That gives a filmmaker the ability to have one drone that does it all, and that gets it our ‘doddle D!’
Honorable mention, though, has to go to the Power Ray Underwater Fishing Drone, which can go down to 100 feet, find the best spots for fishing, has a built in sonar fish finder, and an on board 4K video camera, so you can record the moment you caught the big one. I mean, come on, how can this thing not be the coolest?
Home Theater. Home theater had several awards ranging from best TV to best streaming product. And in the TV category, there were two stand out screens that slugged it out for the best. I agree with Engadget on this one, that the LG OLED W Series “Wallpaper” TV is the one to beat this year. At just 2.6 millemeters thick, the “Wallpaper” TV is the slimmest TV ever made, and has Ultra HD Premium support for HDR. And with the new Dolby Atmos sound bar, could be the best home theater solution of 2017. And did we mention it attaches to your wall with magnets? Engadget also gave the Wallpaper TV Best in Show.
Honorable mention goes to the Sony Bravia A1 OLED TV, which sports an all new “acoustic surface,” that emits sound through the screen itself, eliminating the need for those lousy speakers that come as an after thought on today’s TVs. Sony has placed a pair of transducers behind the screen itself, which generates vibrations in every area of the screen that sound will emit from, giving it a truely immersive experience. The sound also works in 3D, so an object, like a car, moves from the foreground to the background, the audio follows, getting fainter the farther away the subject goes. The downside is, at this state of the technology, it only works through Sony’s Bravia OLED design, meaning LED users miss out.
For streaming,Engadget awarded the Dish AirTV the best of award for Home Theater. The AirTV does double duty streaming video from the internet and taking broadcast signals from over the air, eliminating the need of having to have a second box for your steaming needs. It works with Dish’s Sling TV, and can bring in the free channels that are broadcast to an antenna to get your local live fix for sports and other events. Not a bad price at $130, and you don’t have to be a Sling TV user either, but it helps.
But the doddle Award goes to the Mohu Airwave HD. If you’re already invested in an Apple TV or Roku Box (I have both), the Mohu Airwave HD Antenna will wirelessly connect to your streaming media solution and incorporate local TV channels with no additional connections. It also gives you a 14-day channel guide, so you know what’s going on. It’s a tad more expensive at $150, but it definitely shows that cord cutters are now going to have the option to get their live TV, and still tell the cable and satellite companies to go away.
There were plenty of other great products at CES 2017, like Razer’s Project Ariana projector, which uses chroma lighting to turn your entire room into a game, but we have to stop somewhere. Besides, NAB is only three months away!