Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.
The connected car was a theme we saw again and again at this year's CES. While all those information-filled touchscreens and next-gen autonomous features sound great on paper, you might be left wondering what kind of internet connection will power them all. Toyota is currently exploring satellite technology that could be the key to the smart cars of the future. Its Mirai fuel cell car is now more high-tech than ever.
Hammock camping is far from a new phenomenon, but it's one that's gained some attention from the industry in recent years. Established brands and startups have been flooding the market with a variety of new designs, including flatter, more adjustable hanging beds like the Amok, more structured hammock-tent hybrids like those from Tentsile, bivy-hammock combos like the Alpine Hammock, and add-on shelter systems like the Nube. Hammock outfit Eagles Nest Outfitters (ENO) adds a bit of comfort and convenience to its 2016 line of hammocks with new products like an LED hammock and purpose-built inflatable mattress.
In a list of auto brands that embody adjectives like "sleek" and "sporty," Buick traditionally sits comfortably toward the bottom. It's something Buick itself is well aware of, and has been gradually addressing through new product and advertising. It has been quietly filling its lineup with cars designed to get folks reaching for those adjectives, instead of laughing them off. The all-new Avista concept is its best effort yet, showing how a Buick can move right past "sporty" to become downright "sexy" and "seductive."
One sure way to generate some buzz with truck buyers is to create a brightly highlighted concept pickup with alternative styling. We've seen it a number of times over the past few years. Chevy did it in LA 2014 with the ZR2; Hyundai spiced up Detroit 2015 with the Santa Cruz pickup; and Renault showed the Alaskan last September. The trend continues at the 2016 North American International Auto Show, where Nissan celebrates the recent market launch of the new Titan XD with the Titan Warrior Concept, a stylish truck that's ready to be commanded through off-road battle.
Outdoorsmen (and women) looking to drop their backpacks have a number of new alternatives for hauling gear into the wild. New personal trailers and roller bags, like the Armadillo and Trailpod, have been popping up in recent years, pulling gear weight off the back and putting it in tow. Zuca adds the new All Terrain, a burly, aluminum-framed roller with large, knobby tires and a hunger for rough, open spaces.
While its VW Group siblings are busy working with electrical architecture, new infotainment and autonomous technologies, Bentley is keeping things simple at CES. It's partnered up with the audio specialists at Monster to unveil the Monster at Mulliner, a Continental GT V8 S with a monstrous sound system and custom look – car tech done old school.
Plenty of Bluetooth speakers can get outside and play music at the beach, campground or poolside. Not as many are purpose-built for paddling into the waves and catching the big one, though. Designed to stand up against rolling saltwater, shock and other hazards of the great outdoors, the Hercules WAE Outdoor Rush speaker can mount to your surfboard or snowboard and bring the tunes along for the ride.
Auto companies – particularly German ones – are taking infotainment systems to the next level at this year's CES. Bosch has set the driver afloat in a sea of displays; BMW has updated its sporty i8 plug-in with next-gen screen technologies; and Volkswagen has revived the classic Microbus (sort of) to showcase its own ideas about the future of in-vehicle infotainment. Audi is getting in on the action with a new AMOLED-based virtual dashboard concept and also previews a few upcoming autonomous technologies.
Hopeful whispers about a new Volkswagen Microbus concept have been vibrating air molecules and filling blog pages for much of the five years since Volkswagen last showed a modern minibus concept in the Bulli. It's finally here and it's called the Budd-e. What it lacks in historically honest styling, it makes up for with an explosion of high-tech features big enough to get road trippers, neo hippies, surf bums and daily commuters alike excited for what's to come.