CES 2020: Samsung’s invisible keyboard, Lenovo’s new e-ink ThinkBook, and more

CES 2020 hasn’t even officially kicked off (that’s tomorrow), but there’s already been a ton of news from a bunch of different companies. Today’s Media Day, which means press conference after press conference for journalists.

I let the flurry of announcements calm down before making my selections for today’s newsletter. I realize it’s a bit late, but I wanted to cover some of the more important stories. I’m writing a bunch of articles on a few key announcements that deserve their own blog posts, so stay tuned for those. I should have them up tonight.

Without further ado, here’s a roundup of some of the latest announcements out of Vegas.

Lenovo unveils new ThinkBook Plus with an e-ink display

I don’t think I’d ever see the day where a manufacturer strapped an e-ink display to the top of a laptop, but I guess CES is a thing for a reason.

Today at the show, Lenovo debuted its new ThinkBook Plus which comes with an e-ink display on the top of its lid. The idea is to give people a better place to take notes, read e-books, and manage documents without having to open your laptop. It also comes with a normal laptop on the inside with a 13.3-inch 1080p screen, a fingerprint reader, and a keyboard and trackpad.

We don’t know everything about the device yet (hence the half-baked spec sheet I just shared), but we’ll likely know more in March when it goes on sale for $1,199.

Samsung debuts “Fiesta Red” Galaxy Chromebook

I covered this new gadget in more detail in a dedicated post on Matridox, but I thought I’d throw it into this newsletter because of how cool it looks. This is a Chromebook built for the premium category of the laptop market. It has high-end Intel processors, a ton of storage, plenty of RAM, a 4K OLED display, and a $999 price tag. It also comes in a super-fun “Fiesta Red” color which looks awesome. It’s kind of a spiritual successor to Google’s Pixelbook from back in 2017. Hopefully, it’s just as good.

Asus debuts smaller ZenBook Duo with second screen

Last year, Asus made headlines and managed to achieve positive reviews when it unveiled its ZenBook pro Duo, a laptop with a large main display and a secondary screen above the keyboard and trackpad. The two panels work like two monitors, allowing you to keep some of your tabs and windows open on the smaller screen while you focus on something on the bigger display. This year at CES, the company unveiled a smaller 14-inch version of that machine called the ZenBook Duo with a more manageable 12.6-inch secondary panel.

The device still packs some decent specs like a 1080p resolution, intel’s 10th-gen Comet Lake processors, an Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU, and up to 16GB of RAM. But it’s clearly meant to be used by users who don’t have power-intensive workloads, and targeting that type of demographic can result in your product taking off like a rocket. We’ll have to wait and see what happens later in Q1 2020 when it goes on sale.

Samsung is showing off an invisible keyboard for your phone

We’ve seen laser keyboards in the past that let you type on any hard surface, but we’ve never seen a completely invisible keyboard before, especially one that’s built for phones. At CES, Samsung is demoing a new keyboard called SelfieType that’s been developed in the company’s C-Lab program. It essentially lets you type on any hard surface as if you had a full-size keyboard right in front of you. I don’t know how well it’ll work, but early demos seem promising. You can watch a video on the tech here.

OnePlus unveils concept phone with “invisible camera”

Speaking of invisibility, OnePlus has unveiled its very first concept phone that includes “invisible cameras” on the back. According to the company, it uses electrochromic glass to hide the cameras on the back of the phone so that you can choose to show them using software. It partnered with McLaren to develop the glass since McLaren is known for having the same type of material in its cars in order to tint windows to your liking. I’m not sure if this feature will ever prove to be useful, but it might for selfie cameras so you could manually block it if you’re worried about hackers spying on you.

TCL is getting into the phone business by itself

In case you didn’t already know, TCL owns a number of phone companies, including the rights to produce BlackBerries. But today at CES, TCL took a different stance: it’s building its own phones with its own logo on the back.

Granted, these phones aren’t full-on flagships or anything. The company is starting with the budget and mid-range segments of the market in order to build consumer trust. Its 10 Pro, 10L, and 10 5G will all cost under $500 and even feature up to four cameras on the back. TCL is also working on a foldable phone that, to say the least, isn’t ready yet.

I recommend reading Dieter Bohn’s article linked here for the rundown on these new devices.

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