#CES2016: Harman’s JBL Launches, Most Afford CarPlay and Android Auto Car Receiver Yet

Harman, one of the leading audio companies in the world, has released a new and very interesting car receiver: The JBL Legend CP100. The CP100 is built around a 6.75″ Capacitive Touch screen and is compatible with both Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto. Its powered by a iMX6 ARM CPU. It doesn’t have a CD or DVD player, but it has everything you’d expect in an entry level smartphone connected car stereo including USB inputs, bluetooth, a Mic, a rear camera jack, and steering wheel control input. Its not anything that you wouldn’t find on the Pioneer App Radio 4 or Alpine ILX-007, well, with the exception of Android Auto.

Where the CP100 excels is at price. It’s able to offer a competitive feature set at $399. A full $200 less than the competition. It makes having a connected stereo much more affordable. We’ll find out if this is as an amazing buy as it seems when it hits stores in a couple months.

Source: Harman

#CES2016: The Year of USB Type-C

USB Type-C debuted in the year world with the iPad-eque Nokia N1 in November of 2014 in its USB 2.0 variety, but the one port to rule them all really came onto the scene with on March 9, 2015 with the unveiling of the ultra-slim MacBook. It was the only port the little notebook needed with USB 3.1, Displayport & HDMI, and up to 100 watts of power mixed into one port barely larger than Lightning or Micro USB. It didn’t take long to understand that this lone port was the future. That was further solidified with Intel with them making Thunderbolt 3 essentially a supercharged version of Type-C with direct access to the PCI-E bus and 40Gbps speeds instead of 480Mbps of the USB 2.0 variant or 5-10mbps of the USB 3.1. It would take a while to get going for sure, but if CES has shown anything it’s that while legacy ports aren’t gone, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 are here to stay with a barrage of products.

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Computers

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Apple should be very flattered. Just as the MacBook Air became the inspiration of a generation of Ultrabooks, there’s a lot of insanely thin fanless 12″ laptops this year wearing little more than a Core-M and a USB-C port. There’s plenty of options from HP, Dell, Samsung, and LG. Yeah, apparently LG makes laptops now. The creme of this crop seems to be the HP Elitebook Folio with high-end construction and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 ports. There might actually be more devices announced with USB-C/ Thunderbolt 3 than not.

Likewise, the full power of Thunderbolt is fully realized this year. Acer has introduced its 12.5″ Aspire Blade Switch 12 S 2-in-1. This tablet/ laptop hybrid features Full HD and 4K Ultra HD displays and an Intel Core M CPU with HD515 graphics. This can be enhanced by an external Thunderbolt 3 graphics card in the Acer Graphics dock. Gaming accessory maker Razer takes this concept further with the Razer Blade Stealth. This ultrabook also features a 12.5″ FHD or UHD screen but includes a Intel Core i7 6500 with Intel 520HD graphics. Its external graphics solution is much more extreme. The Razer Core features a 500 watt power supply with 375 watts reserved for graphics, 4 USB 3.0 ports, gigabit ethernet, and a full-length double-slot PCI express slot for a graphics card of your choice. That includes even the most high-end extreme graphics cards on the market. Of course it can also take professional Quadro or FirePro graphics turning it from a Mini gaming monster to a tiny workstation.

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Displays

I fell in love with my AOC 15″ portable display despite some issues with DisplayLink and relatively low quality displays. With USB-C, DisplayLink is no longer needed as USB monitors can natively use DisplayPort and have access to more power. The first USB-C display in the form of ASUS’s MB169C+, a further evolution of the company MB168B+ USB 3.0 DisplayLink monitor. The new version also replaces the 1080 TN panel of the previous version with a much higher quality IPS display. I don’t think this will be the last either.

A lone portable display is far from USB Type-C’s only appearance at CES. It turns out a single connector for video, power, and USB was a bit popular in the medium-to high end range. Acer’s 2016 version of the H7-series comes in 25 and 27-inch Quad HD (2560×1440)flavors and features USB-C, HDMI 2.0, a pair of full size USB 3.0 ports, and a MacBook-friendly gold finish. Lenovo is offering pair of displays in the 24″ Full-HD Thinkvision x24 Pro and the 27″ 4K Ultra HD Thinkvision X1. LG also added a 27″ 4k entry in the 27UD88-W.

Dell However, took first in class when it came to USB-C compatible Displays with the New UltraSharp 30 OLED. As the name gives away, this display eschews traditional In-Plane Switching LCD technology for Organic Light Emitting Diode displays. While OLED technology has become affordable in mobile screens, it is still expensive with larger panels and this Dell is no exception at just a hair under $5 grand. However, it might also be the best 30-inch display on the market. If there is one thing Dell knows, it is professional displays. Dell is also offering a dock in regular USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 variants for use with legacy displays.

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Storage

Seagate’s stylish and Mac-Friendly subsidiary LaCie hit USB-C hard this year offering products from the affordable and portable LaCie Porsche Design Mobile Drive and its desktop brother to the high end Chrome. Samsung is also in the game with the portable SSD T3 with solid state capacities up to 2TB.

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Accessories

I Could list every USB Type-C accessory that was announced, but honestly, that might take the rest of my life so I’ll talk about the one that stands out: Griffin’s BreakSafe Charing Cable for the MacBook, Google Chromebook Pixel, and other lightweight USB-C powered laptops. This power only cable has a magnetic break near the connector much like Apple’s MagSafe connectors. In other words, the cord reversibly splits in two instead of sending your computer flying. Why couldn’t have Apple and Google have done this in box?

Other than that, you have a bevy of docks, hubs, and cables from the usual high-class suspects like Griffin, Belkin, Satechi, and Incipio.

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The Elephant in The Room

The one company that didn’t announce anything at CES might be the company most looked at for USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3: Apple. They effectively ushered in the USB-C era just under a year ago and have spearheaded convergence of ports through Thunderbolt 1 & 2. In other words, the industry might be getting on it big time, but its effectively Apple’s train.

We won’t be waiting long to find out. The MacBook is nearly a year old and is due for its Silverlake update. Given the amount of similar machines with Thunderbolt 3, I wouldn’t be surprised if the original MacBook is the first and last Mac with just plain USB Type-C. The top of Apple’s line, the Retina MacBook Pro is also due for an update. It was well ahead of its time in 2012, but the Industry has changed a lot. It also uses traditional USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 2. Both are due for replacement by Thunderbolt 3. I’d expect more a complete design than a mere update this go around with the Retina form factor being around for 4 iterations.

While it could drag on into March, I suspect we’ll see the first Thunderbolt 3 Macs by the end of spring.

#CES2016 Acer Introduces Insane 2-in-1 with Thunderbolt 3.

Imagine a 12.5″ Windows 10 tablet with a 6th Gen Silverlake Core M CPU. Now imagine that that tablet has a dock for a keyboard. At this point you have a standard 2-in-1 with maybe a little more kick with the Core M instead of an Atom. Now add Thunderbolt 3 to that mix to make it compatible with high end storage & I/O devices. Next, let’s use some of that Thunderbolt 3 bandwidth for an external discreet graphics card. You have machine that goes from bit tablet to mini-workstation. This isn’t theoretical or a concept, Acer is actually nuts enough to build this and they’re calling it the the Aspire Switch 12 S. They have my attention.

As I said in the opener, the Switch 12 S has a 12.5″ screen with a pair of options: 1920×1080 Full HD or an option Ultra HD, yes as in 4K, display at 3840 x 2160. 4K on something that can be used as a tablet is utterly insane. Either option has Gorilla Glass 4 with further Acer enhancements to maximize viewing angles and reduce eye strain. They’re flanked with Dolby-Premium compatible speakers Acer is calling True Harmony. Power is provided by the aforementioned 6th generation Intel Core M though Acer did not specify which ones. For I/O you have two full size USB 3.0 ports, Micro-HDMI, MicroSD, and your standard 3.5m audio jack. Its also has a 720P front camera and a 3D Intel Realsense R200 on the back. Memory is either 4GB or 8GB and you can have 128 or 256GB of solid-state storage. Its super light too weighting under 2 pounds as a tablet and just over 3 with the keyboard dock. Speaking of said dock, it uses Smart Hinge gold connections that secure magnetically while providing 6gbps transfer speeds and charging the keyboard. In other words, its designed to be a tablet when its a tablet and a laptop when it’s a laptop. For other accessories, that afore mentioned optional external graphics haven’t been fully fleshed out as for as details, but it’s coming. It won’t make the Switch 12 S a gaming PC, but it will give it a boost for gaming and professional graphics work.

The next two questions are pretty obvious: When and how much? Its be available next month, February 2016. but the exact date has not been released. Pricing for the base model is a very affordable $999, but it’ll go up from there once you add the really intriguing options.

Acer has come with a really intriguing option that lives in multiple worlds. Hopefully The Acer Aspire Switch 12 S will live up to its great promise.

Source: Acer

#CES2016: Ford & Fiat-Chrysler Get on CarPlay, Android Auto Bandwagons

I’m not going to lie, the rollout of mobile car connectivity platforms Apple Carplay and Android Auto have been slower than I expected. They’ve been given a major shot in the arm for 2016 as the Ford Motor Company and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have both announced support for both platforms as part of their in-car entertainment systems. Both automakers had been long-term holdouts to the platforms. Let’s take a look at the details starting with Ford.

Ford’s implementation of Carplay and Android Auto will be part of their new QNX-based Sync 3 ecosystem. It will come standard on the 2017 version of Sync 3 with an update to 2016 MY vehicles coming later during 2016. Ford will take full advantage of Carplay enhancements in iOS 9 with not only touch control, but the vehicle’s physical buttons able to control the Carplay interface. The platforms are joined by additions to Ford’s own AppLink platform including a AAA app and in-car LTE internet support.

Not very long after Ford’s announcement, Fiat Chrysler announced its fourth generation of its Uconnect system. The new Uconnect will feature a 8.4-inch touch screen and also have Carplay and Android Auto support. The system will be available in the company’s Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Jeep, and Ram vehicles. Unlike rival Ford, FCA did not announce an upgrade path for older vehicles. They did, however, announce a special 12.1″ version of the Uconnect for first responders. The extra large version will be available on the Dodge Charger Pursuit police package and feature a resolution of 1024×768 compared to the 640×480 resolution of the 8.4″ version.

With Ford and FCA, almost every automaker will have both Carplay and Android Auto in their 2017 model year lineups.

Source: Ford, FCA