Competition is good, so long as it is healthy.
CES is famous for vaporware products that never come to the market. However, this year is different and there are some interesting new ideas that might just change the technology landscape as we know it.
At CES 2023, there were several companies that released products that were more or less aimed directly at existing Apple product lines. Were they better? You decide!
Lenovo Yoga Book 9i
Apple’s MacBook computers are always at the top of any list you find of the best laptops you can buy. They haven’t changed a lot over the years, but they consistently outperform the competition on almost all metrics.
So, if you can’t compete with Apple on a conventional laptop design, what would happen if you tried an unconventional design? Enter the Lenovo Yoga Book 9i. It’s a dual screen laptop like nothing you have seen before.
It’s kind of like having an external display that you can take everywhere you go. And the screens are fantastic. The Yoga Book 9i has two 13.3-inch 2.8K OLED displays with P3 color accuracy and Dolby Vision HDR.
The dual displays are very versatile. They can be used in portrait or landscape orientation. You can combine them to have one large scrolling display or use them as two separate screens. You can even turn one screen into a touchscreen keyboard and trackpad.
The Yoga Book 9i comes with a Bluetooth keyboard, an origami style stand, and a stylus. Even if Apple did make something like this, those would likely all be optional extras that you would have to pay extra for.
Lenovo AIO 9i
The iMac is Apple’s much loved all-in-one desktop computer. It was redesigned in 2021 as part of the Apple silicon transition, but because they retired the iMac Pro, the largest iMac you get has a 24-inch screen.
The Lenovo AIO 9i has a 32-inch screen. It has four Harman Kardon speakers, Dolby Atmos spatial audio, and a 5MP infrared webcam. It can be configured with a 13th-generation Intel i9 and an NVIDIA GeForce GPU.
The AIO 9i looks amazing and supports multiple devices. You can connect and charge your laptop and the AIO via a USB-C cable, and control both from a single keyboard and mouse.
Samsung ViewFinity S9
After repeated calls to release a consumer grade monitor, Apple finally relented and introduced the Studio Display. With the exception of the wonky webcam, it has proven to be a popular monitor, and it’s way more affordable than the ProDisplay XDR.
Samsung’s new ViewFinity S9 is a direct competitor for the Studio Display. It has a 27-inch display with 5K resolution, just like the Studio Display. It has a wide color gamut of 99% DCI-P3 and can charge laptops with up to 96W of power via the Thunderbolt 4 port. There are 3 additional USB-C ports and a display port to round off the connectivity.
Where the ViewFinity S9 differs from the Studio Display is with the included 4K webcam, the standard matte coating that comes at no additional cost, and a built-in color calibration tool.
The ViewFinity S9 also runs Tizen OS. This is the same operating system used on Samsung TVs, so you can also install any app that you would normally run on your smart TV and use this as a media hub when needed. No prices have been announced yet, but if this comes in at less than the Studio Display, it would certainly be an interesting option to have.
Dell UltraSharp 32 6K
If Samsung’s ViewFinity S9 isn’t big enough for you, maybe the new Dell UltraSharp will be. This 32-inch monitor has a 6K screen and could be a more affordable alternative to Apple’s ProDisplay XDR.
The problem with Apple’s ProDisplay XDR was not the quality, it was the price. The standard monitor is $6,000 with the stand, and $7,000 if you want the matte Nano-Texture glass. But, with few other 6K monitors on the market, Apple could basically charge whatever they wanted.
The new Dell UltraSharp 32 bring some competition. It lacks HDR and local dimming, but it has speakers, a microphone, and a 4K webcam. It is also very ergonomic with tilt, swivel, and height adjustments. The display will even rotate to portrait orientation if needed.
The Dell monitor is also packed with ports. On the rear, the Thunderbolt 4 port has up to 140W of power for charging a laptop. There is an additional Thunderbolt 4 port, a USB-C port, four USB-A 3.0 ports, an RJ45, and an HDMI 2.1 port. Then there is an additional pop-out hub on the front of the monitor that houses two more USB-C ports and a USB-A port.
That’s a lot of ports!
Android Auto and Google Maps
Google unveiled some updates to Android Auto at CES, but they are unlikely to move the needle very much for in-car software advances. Android Auto will now support dual screen apps, much like CarPlay already does, and “high definition” Google Maps are coming to Volvo and Polestar cars.
For me, the maps are the interesting part here. The HD maps are much better at identifying your position on the road. They are accurate to a few inches versus a few feet. For self-driving cars, this is crucial data to have because it can improve the automated driving experience.
How accurate are Apple’s maps in comparison? I would love to know.
HP Poly Voyager Free 60+
The phenomenal success of Apple’s AirPods has had the competition in a downward spiral for years. Apple users love them. They are lightweight, have great sound quality, class leading noise cancellation, and excellent battery life. How do you compete with that?
Well, in a move that literally no-one saw coming, HP unveiled the Poly Voyager Free 60+. It’s a clunky name for a pair of earbuds, but it’s a product that comes with a very unique feature; a touchscreen on the outside of the charging case.
The OLED touchscreen can be used to adjust the volume or check on battery life and call status. It even has a 3.5 mm jack that is ideal for in-flight entertainment systems. They are marketed for enterprise users, but could be used by anyone.
What would it be like if Apple put a screen on the AirPods Pro case? I think that would be a great idea, especially if it could mirror notifications.
The AFEELA Car
Okay, I know I am wish-casting here, but Apple has long been rumored to be working on an Apple car. I know it is not here yet, and it may never see the light of day, but all the available evidence suggests they are working on some kind of electric vehicle.
As it happens, Sony has also been working on a car. It partnered with Honda to create a new automotive brand called AFEELA and was happy to show off a prototype vehicle at CES 2023.
It’s a wild technological experiment that includes 45 cameras and sensors inside and outside the vehicle. The AFEELA even has a customizable OLED screen on the front grill of the vehicle, while on the inside the software will be entirely powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon chips.
Pre-orders are planned to begin in the first half of 2025, sales by the end of 2025, and delivery from spring 2026 in North America. Will Apple respond with an EV of their own by then? Only time will tell.
HTC Vive XR Elite
This is another one that you can file under “upcoming” products. Apple’s AR/VR headset has long been rumored as their next new product category. It would build upon all their previous work on augmented reality and provide new options for consumers and developers.
HTC, however, has been in the arena for a while and the Vive XR Elite is a testament to that. For around $1000, you get a lightweight, convertible form factor, diopter adjustments for people who wear glasses, a wireless self-contained VR experience, and 2K screens for each eye.
I am super curious to see what Apple does in this space. What kind of experience are they going to give to their users? How much will it cost? Will developers get on board with creating innovative apps? Meta and HTC are setting the bar high, so I hope Apple can rise to that.
What Are You Excited For?
Whether you think any of these products are better than what Apple sells right now is almost a moot point. Competition is good.
We need companies to compete, innovate and push each other to create new and interesting products. Apple needs that too. This is how consumers win and how real advances in technology are made.
Do you agree?
If you enjoy reading articles like this and would like to support me as a writer, do what I did and sign up to become a Medium member! It’s just $5 a month, and it gives you unlimited access to everything on Medium.
If you sign up using my link, I’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.