Brad and I scoured the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center and the surrounding hotel and convention spaces during CES 2017. Here’s the best of the best.
Best of Show: Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
In keeping with the history of this convention, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 was an obvious choice for Best of Show: Nothing else shown at CES 2017 had the same potential to shape and change personal computing as much as this powerful and tiny system on a chip (SoC) design. It will power coming smartphones and tablets, of course, but also a new generation of Windows 10-based PCs, making it the engine of our collective mobile computing future.
Best Ultra-Portable PC: LG Gram 15.6-inch
There were almost too many thin-and-light portable PCs to choose from at CES, but the new family of LG Gram laptops stands out, in particular the new 15.6-inch model. Think about it this way: One of the most impressive thin and light laptops from 2015, the HP Envy Notebook, sports a 13.3-inch display and weighs just under 3 pounds. Flash forward one year and a 15.6-inch LG Gram weighs—wait for it—only 2.4 pounds. That’s incredible on paper, of course, but in person, the LG Gram is so light it seems like an empty prototype shell, not the fully-functional Windows 10 PC that it is.
Best All-In-One PC: Dell Precision 5720 All-In-One
Dell announced two stunning All-In-One (AIO) PC designs at CES 2017, the identical-looking XPS AIO and Precision 5720. Both sport gorgeous 27-inch 4K UHD edge-to-edge displays, 10 speaker arrays, and Dell’s newly redesigned keyboard and mouse. But we have to give the nod to the Precision 5720 for its processor choices, which include Xeon, and slighter better GPU options. But you can’t go wrong either way: Both are stunners.
Best Display: Samsung UH750 31.5″
We’ve always been impressed by the quality of Samsung displays, but the consumer electronics giant is really turning it up a notch for 2017. The Samsung UH750 is a great example. Available in both 28- and 31.5-inch variants, this Quantum Dot display provides a 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) resolution, 4ms response time, and AMD FreeSync capabilities for the best possible performance.
Best Curved Display: Samsung CF791 34″
Samsung’s curved displays garnered a lot of attention in the company’s booth and for good reason: They’re absolutely stunning. Our favorite was the Samsung CF791 Quantum Dot Display, which features a 1,500R curvature and an ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio in its 34-inch edgeless frame. It provides a resolution of 3440 x 1440, a 125 percent sRGB color space, a best-in-class 3000:1 contrast ratio with deep blacks and AMD Freesync for you gamers in the audience. It’s truly impressive.
Most Innovative PC: HP Sprout Pro
Long before the Surface Studio came along, HP was serving the creative market with its incredibly versatile and innovative Sprout PC. For 2017, the HP Sprout Pro all-in-one PC features easier interaction between Windows 10 and the device’s HD projector, touch mat and 2D/3D cameras. And it now provides high-precision 3D scanning for the first time (in addition to faster 2D scanning): You have to see this in action to believe it. Incredible.
Best Gaming PC: HP OMEN X
HP’s embrace of the gaming PC market has been interesting to watch, and it has resulted in an expanded family of impressive hardware. But none is more impressive than the OMEN X, which debuted in late 2016. This incredible modular cube-like PC, which is tilted at a 45 degree angle, can be configured to your heart’s content, with the stock configuration offering an Intel Core i7-6700K processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD drive and a 2 TB 7200 RPM HDD, and either an AMD Radeon RX480 graphics card with 4 GB of dedicated GDDR5 RAM or an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card with 8 GB of dedicated GDDR5X RAM. But the Do It Yourself (DIY) audience can also just buy the gorgeous chassis and build their own PC. Amazing.
Best Portable Gaming PC: Acer Predator 21 X
The Acer Predator 21 X is an absolute beast, with a curved 21-inch IPS display, new generation Intel Core i7-7820HK processor, and dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 GPUs in SLI with five cooling fans. It costs a heart-stopping $9000, but then that’s the price you pay for this much gaming horsepower.
Best Portable PC for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
The ultimate Ultrabook gets even better in 2017 thanks to the availability of classic ThinkPad black and a new Silver color, over 15 hours of battery life, and a curb weight of just 2.5 pounds. This is possible because Lenovo has squeezed a 14-inch display into a 13-inch body with the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Plus, you get two forms of Windows Hello authentication—fingerprint reader and camera—-plus USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 for connectivity and docking, and LTE-A Wireless WAN and WiGig connectivity. And you thought it wasn’t possible to improve on perfection.
Best 2-in-1 PC for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga
While the 2016 ThinkPad X1 Yoga was already one of our favorite PCs, Lenovo has improved that already-stellar design with 7th-generation Intel Core processors, a redesigned and rechargeable smart pen, an improved keyboard—which sinks into the base of the device when it’s used in a convertible mode, and an optional OLED 4K+ display. Yes, it’s a convertible version of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. And yes, it is nearly perfect.
Best 2-in-1 PC: Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Credit Dell for taking edge-to-edge mainstream, but the firm’s new take on the 2-in-1 is sure to attractive attention from all comers. The long-awaited XPS 13 2-in-1 provides a 360-degree hinge that allows the device to be used like a tablet. It also provides a QHD+ edge-to-edge display, and up to 15 hours of battery life. Plus, it features a silent/fanless design, thanks to its use of Intel Y-series processors, which Dell says it specially configured with Intel to provide performance bursts when needed.
Best Portable PC: HP Spectre x360 15-inch
The HP Spectre x360 is one of our favorite PCs, period, and we were delighted to see that HP has updated the 15-inch version for 2017. The new Spectre x360-15 features a 15.6-inch 4K micro-edge display, up to 12 hours of battery life, new-generation Intel Core microprocessors, NVIDIA GeForce 940MX graphics, two front facing Bang & Olufsen speakers, a Windows Hello-compatible IR camera, and USB-C/Thunderbolt (and normal USB) connectivity. Plus it comes swaddled in HP’s gorgeous ash silver and copper finish. Oh my.
Best Mini PC: Intel Compute Card
Determined not to cede the ultra-mobile market to ARM, Intel unleashed an unexpected treat at CES 2017, the Intel Compute Card. This credit card-sized PC can power IoT-based devices or be used as a standalone computer, and it features a USB-C Plus extension connector for USB, PCIe, HDMI, DisplayPort, and other PC capabilities. But the processor, RAM, storage, and wireless connectivity are available right on the card. This is an innovative and versatile form factor that will take the PC to new usage scenarios in 2017.
Best Tablet/Detachable: Lenovo Miix 720
While the cynical might portray the Lenovo Miix 720 as a Surface Pro clone, it’s perhaps fairer to say that Lenovo has taken the productivity tablet design that Microsoft championed and then perfected it. The Miix 720 offers dual watchband hinges with up to 150 degrees of angle adjustment, 7th-generation Intel Core processors, up to 16 GB of RAM, up to 1 TB of PCIe-based SSD storage, a 12-inch QHD (2880 x 1920) 400-nit display, and, most crucially, both full-sized USB and USB-C expansion. This is the Windows tablet to beat in 2017.
Best Tablet/Detachable for Business: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet
The ThinkPad X1 Tablet is Lenovo’s unique take on the business tablet/detachable PC, and it features a versatile modular design that really sets it apart from the competition. You can add modules that provide an extra five hours of battery life (to 15 hours), a projector, and more. And its tablet form factor with removable ThinkPad keyboard seals the deal.
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