More Interesting Finds From CE Week

See Vizio, Focal & Caavo Tech

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Perhaps this story will be a bit of a mirror of my experience from CE Week, some short takes on the interesting stories and technologies I uncovered there. Nothing was particularly earth-shattering…but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t many interesting items. So I encourage you to read on…

See more interesting tech found at CE Week…

I won’t belabor this introduction. The fact is, I found much at CE Week last month that interested me. Hopefully, you’ll agree that the items I focus on below are interesting to you as well.

So here now, in no particular order, are some of the interesting booths, products, and technologies I found at CE Week in the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan last month.

Vizio

Vizio showed a dramatically upgraded user interface now being pushed out to their TV sets via a network update. It’s all about value and user choice Vizio says, noting that this new user interface is accomplished via a firmware update that applies to all Vizio sets made back to 2016.

Vizio's new user interface shown at CE Week last month
Here you can clearly see their “content forward” user interface design. Still it is well organized with the top main menu and a wide selection of available content [Click to enlarge]

Users now have voice control added via Amazon Alexa and Google Home. The company is also adding Apple compatibility vie HomeKit. With Apple AirPlay, users will be able to, for example, mirror their phone on their TV.

A search results page of Tom Cruise movies from Vizio's new user interface shown to me at CE Week
Search for Tom Cruise movies and you’ll come to this page showing all available options [Click to enlarge]

This summer, Vizio will be adding Search by Alexa, another labor saving feature. With voice search, users will find it incredibly easy to let the interface do the work to find what they’re looking for…all they have to do is ask.

Drilling down to a Tom Cruise movie detail page on Vizio's new user interface shown at CE Week
Pick one of Tom Cruise’s movies, in this case Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, and you come to this screen which presents much more detail, including the movie synopsis and the services available where you can watch it now [Click to enlarge]

The company says this is a “content forward” design, because when you turn your set on, that’s what you’re looking for…content. Included is specially curated content put together by the Vizio “content team.” Of particular interest is the “Watch Free” screen which pulls together 100 channels of free streaming content.

The Watch Free section of Vizio's new user interface for free streaming content
Here is Vizio’s new WatchFree service where users can find tons of free streaming content [Click to enlarge]

To my eye, the screens look graphically rich, with menus that allow the user to drill down to the level of detail they desire. An impressive effort by Vizio to upgrade the user experience at no additional charge to today’s customers – or those back to 2016

Learn more about Vizio and its products by visiting: www.vizio.com.

Focal

Another fairly strong brand that showed this year was Focal. Focal has been at some of the past CE Week events, but it was good to see them at this year’s version with a nice selection of in-wall LCRs, as well as box speakers. Unfortunately, they stayed pretty busy while I was there and so I didn’t get a chance to to speak with anyone to get the details on their new models, but I wanted to note their attendance anyway.

Focal's LCR in-wall speaker featuring their flax cone driver design at CE Week
A Focal LCR in-wall speaker featuring their proprietary Flax sandwich driver design which sandwiches Flax fibers at the core with two layers of glass fiber yielding greater rigidity, maximum lightness, and greater internal damping [Click to enlarge]

I have to say that the media seemed quite interested in Focal, as their booth stayed fairly busy throughout the day of the event I attended. Perhaps this suggests that CE Week should invite more of this type of high-end manufacturer to the event.

A tower speaker from Focal with their "F" or Flax sandwich technology at CE Week
This tower model from Focal also features their “F” or Flax sandwich driver design with a Beryllium tweeter. The company’s booth drew quite a bit of attention at CE Week this year [Click to enlarge]

Learn all about Focal and their extensive line of products at: www.focal.com.

Caavo

Caavo was there with their Control Center product that they call today’s answer to the Universal Remote Control. A combination hardware/software solution, I have to admit, Caavo [pronounced kah’ voh] had a pretty compelling demonstration.

A photo of the Caavo booth at CE Week
The Caavo booth at CE Week last month [Click to enlarge]

The company has said that a simplified setup helps the consumer to get started out of the box. You start by hooking all of your devices: say, a PlayStation, cable or satellite box, a Chromecast or whatever to the Caavo Control Center box. Once that’s accomplished, throw all of those remotes in a drawer and use the Control Center remote to control everything.

That's the Control Center device, in this case tucked under the TV at CE Week
Tucked under the TV in the booth image above is their Control Center device that provides a better, more uniform interface for all of your devices [Click to enlarge]

Their box has a sleek design that is easy to tuck away by or behind your TV, with four HDMI connections for your devices, an Ethernet connection for your network (works with wireless networks as well), a USB port, and an HDMI output to your TV. Once connected, the system scans your devices to identify them and set the system up for them.

The back panel of the Caavo Control Center as seen at CE Week
The back panel of the Caavo Control Center. There are enough HDMI connections for 4 devices, a USB input, an Ethernet connector (also has wireless networking), and an HDMI TV output [Click to enlarge]

I have to say, the user interface, like Vizio’s, was quite impressive. Their remote looks cheap and is not particularly impressive, design-wise. But what is impressive, is that the system can be voice controlled (both Amazon Alexa and Google Home) to great effect. In fact, I saw a demonstration of a voice search for the movie Chernoybl that was smooth and effortless…if a little slow.

A photo of the Control Center screen showing what devices are connected and active on your system.
This screen shows you which devices you have connected and active. From this point on, you can put the devices’ remotes away and just use the Caavo Control Center remote [Click to enlarge]

When all of your devices are plugged in, you can see what devices you have on the Control Center’s home screen. These are easy to see and easy to access, using just the one remote control from Caavo.

This screen shows apps and services the user has available
This screen shows you all your apps and services available on the system [Click to enlarge]

A second screen shows all available apps and services you have on your system. Selecting them is a point and click operation.

A photo showing how voice commands show up on the screen...in this case, "Watch Chernobyl"
A voice command or request is shown on the screen for confirmation the system heard you. Ask it to search for Chernobyl and you’ll see the next screen below. [Click to enlarge]

The service comes with a very nice user interface that makes it easy to find just what movie or show you are attempting to locate. And remember, it also is voice enabled which makes navigating menus even easier.

This photo shows the search results page for the movie Chernybol
Use voice search to “show Chernybol” and you’ll get this detail page. Push a button to see the services available to you where you can watch this movie now [Click to enlarge]

There is a subscription element to fully realize all of the features of the system, although the rates seem fairly affordable. According to Evelyn Krasnow, Caavo Chief Marketing Officer, the subscription rate is $4/month, $40/year, or a one-time $150 for lifetime service. The Control Center hardware sells for $60 MSRP.

See more on the Caavo Control Center at: caavo.com.

About Ted

A sales and marketing specialist - primarily in the technology industry - I've experienced a sort of "circle of life" in business. I've been a mass merchant retailer, a specialty retailer, a specialty manufacturer, a large volume manufacturer, a distributor, and even represented sales representatives. Now the owner of a marketing company that works with a variety of businesses on improving their strategic marketing and business development - I analyze issues from all angles to develop holistic solutions.

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