The big surprise at CES 2017: PCs are back

Brid-Aine Parnell

Tuesday 31 January 2017

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) saw nearly 200,000 visitors flock to Las Vegas to be wowed by the latest and greatest gadgets, with Lenovo unveiling some exciting new devices.

Televisions were big on the floor this year, with HDR playback becoming increasingly more common across models, while virtual reality, drones, self-driving cars and robotics – all big hitters at the 2016 show – also got plenty of coverage. But alongside all this, something more prosaic came back to CES: desktop computing.

Desktops might have been sidelined within the tech market by the surge in popularity of first laptops and then tablets and smartphones, but the big PC makers haven’t given up. Instead, they’ve decided to go bigger – and much stranger – with their desktop concepts.

Microsoft already proved late last year that the PC wasn’t dead with the Surface Studio – a combination of desktop and tablet with a giant touchscreen and drawing stylus. Meanwhile, LG showcased its rollable OLED prototype, highlighting a growing trend for screens of any size that can be folded or rolled and stuck into our pockets. The prototype is extremely delicate, but it hints at what’s to come.

Processing and pictures

More practically, the big chipmakers showed off the latest processors that will power the new hardware. AMD brought its hugely hyped Ryzen CPU, while five motherboard makers showed off 16 different AM4-based solutions for desktop processors. Intel was also at the show with its seventh-generation desktop CPU, Kaby Lake, finally releasing the quad-core version to complete this latest family of chips.

High dynamic range (HDR) was the buzzword in televisions, but it also made an appearance in PC monitors. LG and Dell were the first to strike, but with HDR support available in the latest Nvidia and AMD graphics cards, they’re unlikely to be the only PC makers with new HDR products in 2017.

Legions of laptops

These advances in processing and monitors also translate to laptops, and CES was awash with the latest portable solutions. More laptops were VR ready and, as with desktops, are being aimed at specific users – from gamers to enterprises and creatives.

Lenovo is rebranding its gaming line with the Legion series and adding two new machines, the Y720 and Y520. The former is the more advanced of the two, featuring built-in Dolby Atmos and an integrated Xbox One wireless receiver. And for the corporate user, Lenovo profiled the Miix 720, a 2-in-1 12-inch Windows 10 tablet with detachable keyboard that’s packed with productivity tools, the option to write and draw on the screen, and facial recognition to ensure secure login.

While new trends involving smart devices, drones, robots and cars were also at the tradeshow, it’s interesting to see CES returning to its roots – computers – with newer technologies like VR and HDR feeding back into the hardware, powering weirder and more wonderful PCs and laptops.

Check out Lenovo’s full offering at CES 2017.