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CES 2020: How tech got personal

More than 20,000 new products were released at CES 2020 in Las Vegas last week. How does one choose the stand-outs? JOHN SALAZAR went personal




Of all the thousands of products launched and demonstrated at CES 2020, which stand out the most? It’s impossible to cover them all, but it was the personal gadgets that caught my attention.

Personal devices have become a lot more powerful, and far more compact.

A lot of consumers tend to look for products that aren’t exactly heavy, but still pack a lot of punch. Before the age of the smartphone, this had always been a struggle. Since smartphones arrived, this has been a mandatory goal. It seems we’re already close to hitting all marks with making personal devices as intuitive and as “smart” as possible.

Here is my selection of the best of the show:

The Honor Band 5 Sport turns the fitness tracker industry on its head by providing not just an affordable new tracker, but one with a strap made from recycled plastic water bottles as well. This new and affordable tracker is able to take note of progress in various activities such as swimming, running, and cycling. It has six-axis motion tracking, making it something you can wear around the ankle as well.

Insta360 One R enters the modular action cam scene with multiple lens offerings, giving you the ability to compete with conventional DSLRs with quite a small device. Perhaps the main appeal of the concept lies in the fact that each of the One R’s lenses have their own sensors, meaning you’re using the right settings every time you switch them out. The processing module is also located in a handy spot you can fiddle with regardless of the situation.

ThinkPad X1 Fold tests the boundaries of compact and comfortable. This new entry in the ThinkPad has all the sleek and attractive appearance of a notebook with a detachable Bluetooth keyboard, making it a laptop-tablet hybrid. The 13-inch device is also thin enough to fit certain jacket pockets. This stretches the boundaries of what “pocket PCs” can be. As to whether or not it will include an exclusive Lenovo voice assistant or voice translator options has yet to be seen.

Make your homes smarter, designed specifically for your family.

A lot of tech giants have teased Internet-of-Things products that will change the way we interact with things at home. This is why we’ve seen appliances we can control from our phones, or even appliances with touch screens. CES 2020 steps up the game and introduces more comforts for the home.

Hydraloop Water Recycle does just what it says with a sleek and futuristic appearance. And while it’s using similar water filtration systems as conventional water filters, Hydraloop does its business in a sturdier and more sustainable way. The filter itself is huge and has a lot of components, all helping in filtering and recycling up to 85-percent of water in washing machines, showers, and baths.

Samsung has launched Ballie, which is in itself quite the quirky tool. It’s a robot plus smart home device in one, in the form of a small ball. It’ll follow you around the house and follow orders based on your commands. Thanks to its many features you can take photos, manipulate other smart appliances, and even give home updates while you’re out.

TOWNEW’s smart waste can do the dirty work for you, quite literally. It acts like a normal trash bin… until it’s full. When you’ve filled the smart waste can, just press the button and it seals the waste bag for you. Not only that, it prepares a new waste bag for usage and raises the full waste bag ready for pickup.

Just the best in entertainment and recreation. What’s better than relaxation?

Relaxation with the best tech for entertainment. We’re talking entire entertainment systems, powerful mobile platforms, and groundbreaking tech that can change the way we view entertainment at large throughout the decade. Some tech giants showed promising developments in this regard this CES 2020.

Vizio has the Elevate Soundbar, which in itself literally brings listening music from a different angle. The 5.1.4-based, 10-channel sound system supports Dolby Atmos and DTS: X audio standards, which allows the machine’s outermost speakers to fill the room with sound by rotating upward. This can level up your listening experience.

Dell has the new Alienware Concept UFO which is basically a small PC in itself contained in a device similar to the Nintendo Switch. Concept UFO has an 8-inch main body with two detachable controllers. And while this Nintendo Switch competitor (?) might not be out soon, it’s interesting to wait for how the dynamics of these two play out.

We’ve just seen the arrival of 4K entertainment a few years back, and now we’re already with 8K. Television screens already showcase quite realistic (sometimes too realistic) visuals with 4K screens. And now with companies like Samsung showing off 8K TV sets, there’s just an entirely new landscape for film, television, and gaming to work with.

Why settle for a phone when you can go for a TV that’s almost like one? Samsung’s presentation featured the Sero TV, a television screen specifically designed to view videos and multimedia from phones. While the Sero TV has a default horizontal position, it’s capable of turning upright to fit a smartphone’s view just right.

CES 2020 Recap: It’s Full of Tech Fun!

CES 2020 has definitely stunned both tech enthusiasts and casuals with the wide assortment of tech offerings and product showcases in the short event. And despite the rather “short” showcases of these top brands, we’ve seen that the future in terms of tech focuses on automation, AI, smart tech, IoT, and 5G integration – all of which tease a bright decade ahead filled with tech we can customize and personalize to our needs.

What did you like best in this year’s CES? What product showcase sparked your interest, and what sorts of products do you hope big tech companies make in the near future?


John Salazar is a certified techie-at-heart, but he shares a love for all things science and technology, health and wellness, and even a bit of music on the side. As a creative writer, John makes sure to write both informative and entertaining pieces. He loves writing, and he plays the guitar when he has free time.

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World’s First Foldable PC, ThinkPad X1 Fold, Ushers in a New Era of Mobile Computing

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Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC



International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

2018 Market
2023 Market
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s



Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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