Engadget Announces the Best of CES 2014 Awards Winners

As official partner to the Consumer Electronics Association, senior editors from Engadget selected finalists for this year’s Best of CES awards. At the end of the week, they had selected winners across 13 categories, in addition to a ‘Best of the Best’ winner — the Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’ prototype. Engadget also announced that the People’s Choice Award went to Razer for its first wearable device, the Nabu, which registered nearly 50 percent of the more than 54,000 reader votes.

We’ve listed the winners and finalists below, along with brief summaries or commentaries from various sources. For additional details, Engadget has posted a list of this year’s awards winners and a write-up describing the collection of finalists. The links below will take you to the product sites, news resources or related press releases.

Best of the Best
Winner: Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’ Prototype

“I am a decent gamer, but I was so overwhelmed by the accuracy of my new virtual environment that I had to be reminded to maneuver the aircraft as well as look around,” writes Erick Moen for ETCentric. “I turned to thank the executive giving me the demo for the reminder and was surprised, if not jarred, to see nothing but stars and the back of the cockpit. Quite simply, it was the greatest gaming experience I’ve ever had. I was truly disappointed to leave it in the meeting room.”

People’s Choice Award
Winner: Razer Nabu Wearable Smartband

“How would you like to exchange LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Twitter connections with a simple handshake? You can do that now with Razer’s Nabu, the company’s first wearable device,” writes Debra Kaufman for ETCentric. “On cursory examination, the Razer Nabu looks like many other fitness tracker wearables and smartwatches. What sets it above the competition is its singular twist on engaging with social media… Another Nabu gesture is a shake of the arm to dismiss an email or other notification. But the gestural power of the Nabu is just in its infancy. Nabu is built on an Open API, and Razer is offering developers a Nabu for $49 to encourage more apps.”

Best Startup
Winner: Airtame Wireless HDMI Dongle
Finalist: FINsix

“This device, once it graduates from Indiegogo, will plug into any TV with HDMI and connect to the Wi-Fi network,” explains Pocket-lint. “Then you can throw your screen from any computer on that network. Technically you could load up a YouTube video on your Mac, go full screen, and send it to the TV — making any screen instantly smart… Technically speaking, Airtame should be able to mirror your Steam game on to your TV, letting you play wirelessly with a controller from the comfort of your sofa. It’s still early days so whether it’s powerful enough to handle that is unclear. Though it has reached a stretch goal that will make it dual-core.”

Best Digital Health & Fitness Product
Winner: JayBird Reign Fitness Wristband
Finalists: LG Life Band Touch, Sleep Number x12 Smart Bed, Razer Nabu

“There’s also a little bit of intuitive prognostication built into the Reign; JayBird says that it can actually recognize when your body is ready to get active, even if you can’t,” explains TechCrunch. “It can then prompt you to get up and get moving even when you might not feel like it, to help you make the most of those times your body is ready to go for the most possible return on your workout investment… The Reign uses Bluetooth to communicate data with a companion app for iOS and Android, and should be available sometime this spring for $199.”

Best Automotive Electronics Product
Winner: Corvette Performance Data Recorder
Finalists: BMW ActiveAssist, Cobra JumPack, Hyundai Blue Link

“The information is recorded on an SD card that the driver inserts into a slot in the glovebox (in the same spot where many automakers used to locate the electric trunk release button). Video from a camera mounted high inside the windshield is recorded onto the data card, as are telemetry readings,” reports The New York Times. “The results can then be viewed on a computer. With a few keystrokes, the Stingray owner , like a Formula One driver, can go over mistakes that need correcting in order to improve performance, giving the ‘Vette another edge at a local track day.”

Best Audio Product
Winner: ClearView Clio Bluetooth Speaker
Finalists: Astell & Kern AK240 (personal media player), LG SoundPlate (soundbar), Samsung HW-H600 (soundbar)

According to Mac Rumors, the Clio “boasts a unique ‘invisible’ design consisting of an ultra-thin, curved acrylic glass transducer. The speaker’s design allows for it to output sound in multiple directions, with volume up/down, mute, and Bluetooth buttons on its side. ClearView Audio is also touting its patented ‘Edge Motion’ audio system in the speaker, which pushes sound through the side of the device instead of the rear like traditional cone speakers.”

Best Video Product
Winner: DISH Virtual Joey
Finalists: Sharp Aquos Quattron+, LG 77-inch Curved OLED, Samsung 78-inch U9000

PCmag.com reports that DISH was “introducing SuperJoey and Wireless Joey set-top boxes and offering ‘Virtual Joey’ software for webOS-based LG Smart TVs, and the Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 game systems… These apps let the devices access a connected Hopper just like a Joey, with channel guides and DVR control.”

Best Software
Winner: Sony PlayStation Now
Finalist: LG’s webOS for TVs

According to Sony: “PlayStation Now offers the first ever streaming game service on consoles powered by our exclusive advanced cloud-based technology. Gamers can now play games the same way they stream TV, movies and music… instantly. Starting with PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4, and expanding to PlayStation Vita, Bravia TVs and other Sony and non-Sony devices, PlayStation Now will be available on the electronic devices gamers use most.”

Best Emerging Technology
Winner: Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’ Prototype
Finalists: Intel Edison Chip (for wearables), Avegant Glyph (next-gen headset)

“Oculus VR has taken a massive leap forward, eliminating the stomach-churning motion blur that has plagued previous generations of VR headsets, and adding sensors and a camera to track the position of both your head and body and provide more accurate simulated movement,” reports Engadget. “With the latest Rift, Oculus has created a device that may usher in an era of truly immersive gaming and entertainment, and even create new opportunities for businesses to use virtual reality in everything from manufacturing to medical environments.”

Best Mobile Technology
Winner: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Finalists: Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 (Android tablet), Lenovo ThinkPad 8 (Windows tablet)

“This device has impressed us in a way that’s not only based in the device itself, but in the idea that it’ll open up a new trend for smaller smartphones through 2014. While users have been asking for smaller devices — like the Galaxy S4 Mini and HTC One Mini — to work with top-level power for some time, Sony delivers,” suggests SlashGear. “This machine works with the ability to pair with the Sony Smartwatch 2, it’s got a matching set of peripherals if you wish, and it’s made with metal and glass. While we’re still not too impressed with the fingerprint-magnet this device appears as right out of the box, we still come away impressed with the overall feel of the machine.”

Best Gaming Product
Winner: Valve Steam Machines
Finalists: Sony PlayStation Now, Oculus Rift ‘Crystal Cove’ Prototype, Razer Project Christine (modular computing prototype)

“Valve said it was designing a Linux-based Steam OS, a Steam Controller for playing mouse-and-keyboard games in the living room, and it was partnering with 14 companies to build Steam Machines that would go head to head with Windows gaming PCs and consoles. That speaks to Valve’s power,” writes Dean Takahashi for VentureBeat. “But it raised a lot of questions for me. Is Valve crazy? Is Valve powerful? Is Valve closed? Is Valve open? The answer to all of those questions, in my opinion, is yes.”

Best Offbeat Product
Winner: Sen.se Mother
Finalists: Parrot Jumping Sumo, TrewGrip Keyboard

“Need a helpful reminder to brush your teeth, take your morning pills, or water the plants? The newly announced device, called ‘Mother,’ imbues everyday objects with the gentle nagging power of our awesome moms,” explains TechCrunch of this interesting take on the Internet of Things. “Conspicuous peanut-sized trackers (‘Cookies’) attach to toothbrushes, medication bottles, backpacks, water glasses and other household items to track if they’re being used correctly.”

Best Kid-Friendly Product
Winner: Mimo Baby with Intel
Finalists: Fuhu DreamTab (Android tablet),  Kolibree Smart Toothbrush

“On a simple level, the Mimo baby monitor is a onesie with sensors,” explains SlashGear. “A bit more technical though, this setup is using the recently announced Intel Edison platform. The onesie is able to track key pieces of information such as the temperature and activity level as well as body position and breathing rate. While this is something the baby will be wearing, in theory it should also help the parent sleep a bit better as well.”

Best Maker-Friendly Technology
Winner: MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer
Finalists: 3D Systems ChefJet, 3D Systems iSense (3D scanner)

“For many, MakerBot has become the de facto steward of 3D printing, with an outspoken CEO and a slick flagship store in New York City,” notes CNET. “The company, founded in 2009 by [Bre] Pettis, was acquired in June by Stratasys for $403 million. Pettis boasts that there are more than 44,000 Makerbots in the world. The company has a number of other projects going, including Robo-Hand, which allows for 3D printing of prosthetic for children.”

Best PC
Winner: Razer Project Christine
Finalists: Samsung ATIV Book 9 (ultrabook), Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1 (business ultrabook), LG Chromebase (desktop with ChromeOS)

According to Razer: “Project Christine is a revolutionary new concept design that allows users to build and customize PCs in any configuration without any prior technical knowledge. Choose any module on-the-fly in any combination, whether it’s the CPU, memory, graphics card, storage or power supply module, and simply plug it in. The PCI-Express architecture of Project Christine automatically syncs the components.”