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CES 2018: The best products we saw at the show

CES 2018 is winding down, and we finally have a chance to pause and reflect on what we saw that was actually great. Products that advanced their category, or broke new ground. Things that leaped ahead of the competition, Or maybe they just looked cool.

It’s easy to hit saturation at CES, but these are the products we’re still talking about when everything else has blurred together. We start with the product that was so innovative, two of us raved about it. 

Creative Super X-Fi headphone holography

Creative Super X-Fi Creative

Creative’s Super X-Fi is a powerful digital signal processor.

Hands down, this was the best demo of CES—and it’s the product I’m most looking forward to reviewing this year. Creative’s DSP chip and software analyzes how your ears perceive sound, based on photos of each of your ears and your face. It then synthesizes this data with information about the headphones you indicate you’re using and the acoustics of the room you wish to emulate,  and builds a custom audio model for processing the sound passing through the chip.

The results simply must be heard to be believed. In my demo, I could barely tell the difference between Dolby Atmos demo tracks and movie soundtracks played through a conventional high-end home theater system and a pair of headphones, even though the headphones had just two drivers. The device also made straightforward stereo music tracks sound magical, as if you were in the room with the musicians playing live. Creative told me Super X-Fi will be available later this year in several form factors, including a $150 USB dongle that you’ll use with your own headphones. —Michael Brown

As an audio engineer I readily claim that most ‘virtual’ surround sound applications are junk—until now. Creative Labs’ Super X-Fi blew me away. The company’s technology makes a stereo headset sound like a surround sound speaker set up in the room with you. This is an important technology used by professional applications, made into an easy-to-use consumer product. This demo stole the show for me, and had my colleagues floored as well! —Adam Patrick Murray

Intel Kaby Lake G

8th gen intel core processor with Radeon VegaIntel

Though its launch was overshadowed by Spectre/Meltdown security questions, Intel’s Kaby Lake G was no less exciting. The new CPU that combines an AMD Vega M GPU and an 8th-gen quad-core Core i5 or Core i7 promises to deliver more performance in slimmer laptops.

Thus far, we’ve only seen two: HP’s Spectre x360 15t and Dell’s new XPS 15 2-in-1. Both laptops basically promise to give you the graphics performance of a laptop that would likely have been likely twice as thick before. —Gordon Mah Ung

Digital Storm Project Spark

digital storm spark primary Daniel Masaoka/IDG

We’re suckers for squeezing performance into tiny boxes, but Digital Storm’s Project Spark is truly something to see. Not only does it get a 6-core Core i7 and GeForce GTX 1080 into a machine smaller than a tissue box, but it does it with custom liquid cooling too.

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