Slapping a “best of” label on a product at the Consumer Electronics Show is a dicey proposition. Too many of the things on display evolve and lose their magic or disappear into a puff of smoke before they ever get to retail. But “most interesting”? That’s a bit more approachable.

There were plenty of things at this year’s CES that turned heads. Some were flashy. Some combined two items into one. Some were simply practical. (Practical, it’s worth noting, can’t be overstated. A see-through TV, for example, is an incredible technical feat, but its use cases are hard to pinpoint.)

Here’s a look at a few of the most interesting things we couldn’t stop thinking about after seeing them.

Samsung Music Frame

Samsung’s Frame TVs shook up the industry, transforming the black rectangle into a work of art when not in use. The thinking behind the Samsung Music Frame speaker is basically the same. Instead of looking at a black mesh blob on your shelf, why not display a work of art, perhaps your favorite album cover? The sound quality is exceptional, with support for Dolby Atmos, and the Music Frame can even work as part of a home theater setup. There’s no price or release date yet, but given how successful Frame TVs have been, it’s a safe bet that the Music Frame won’t be a case of the company not delivering on its promise.

Withings BeamO

This handheld medical device could be a big boost to the world of telemedicine, giving doctors more valuable patient information while simultaneously letting people track their own health history. The Withings BeamO combines a thermometer with an electrocardiogram (ECG), oximeter, and digital stethoscope, and it’s simple enough that most people will quickly understand how to use it. Priced at $250, it’s due out in June, but that’s a tentative date, dependent on Food and Drug Administration approval for the ECG and oximeter portions of the device.

GE Smart Indoor Smoker

While there was a lot for home chefs to get excited about at CES, GE arguably moved the world of barbecue forward the most with this kitchen countertop device. Food can be smoked for hours without setting off home protection alarms and, perhaps even more impressive, the product is already available (as opposed to the vaporware that so often rules CES). How does the taste stack up compared to charcoal or wood chunk smoking? That wasn’t something we could assess, due to Las Vegas union rules (grill exhibitors could cook food in front of showgoers, but weren’t allowed to serve non-catered offerings), but people were eager to find out.

LG 27-inch Washer-Dryer Combo

The most valuable thing technology can do, in many cases, is save people time. LG’s combination washer-dryer takes some of the work out of doing laundry, letting you go about your day rather than waiting to transfer damp clothes from one machine to the other. The LG system has a large drum, completes laundry quickly, and includes a separate area for delicates. The combo device will launch later this year, but LG wasn’t prepared to say exactly when and at what price.

[Photo: Yarbo]

Yarbo Snow Blower S1 Plus

Robot vacuums are all over the place. Robot lawnmowers are starting to gain ground. But Yarbo is taking things even further. The Snow Blower S1 Plus automates yet another task that most people dread. Now, instead of braving the elements to ensure your driveway and sidewalk are clear when a blizzard blows through town, you can dispatch your robotic assistant to do the job while you enjoy some time near the fire. Yarbo claims that its device clears snowdrifts as high as 16 inches. Better still, it’s also a yard robot. True, many regions of the country will have no use for it, but people in areas that do see significant snowfall will savor the extra free time and reduced sore muscles. Prices will start at $4,499 when it comes out later this year.

Coldsnap countertop ice cream maker

The kitchen might be the big winner of CES 2024. This countertop soft serve ice cream maker actually gets the product right, unlike so many others that purport to re-create major brands at home. Insert a “pod” (think a slim can of beer or soda) into the device and you’ll have soft serve with the consistency you can expect from Dairy Queen or other major brands within two minutes. Flavors include basic chocolate and vanilla, as well as a coffee version. All were creamy without tasting artificial. The downside? It’s not scheduled to hit the market until 2025.

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