For the second time in about three months, the Las Vegas Convention Center is buzzing with the activity endemic to a major international trade show. And while November is when the automotive aftermarket has its annual pow-wow, January is reserved for the consumer electronics industry’s biggest get together or the year: The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES for the abbreviationally-inclined.
Ironically, the Consumer Electronics Show is, like SEMA, not open to consumers. However, thanks to the seemingly limitless (unless SOPA and/or PIPA pass) power of the Internets, there are plenty of interesting words and pretty pictures pertaining to all the cool new gadgets and services debuting at the show floating around. But you’re not interested in reading one article for hours and hours, right? Of course not. That’s why we’ve limited the following list to the 25 gizmos we think are the coolest and most likely to attain “gotta have” status.
Ferrari by Logic3 Audio Equipment
There are plenty of baubles and trinkets with the Ferrari logo on them that otherwise have nothing to do with cars. Now you can add high end audio equipment to that list, courtesy of Logic3. Divided into two separate product lines (the road car inspired Ferrari Cavallino and the Formula 1 inspired Scuderia Ferrari), the range includes premium speakers, headphones and earbuds that feature technologies like active noise cancelation and thin film acoustic technology. We're guessing many Ferrari owners will use these gizmos to listen to recordings of their car's engine note when they aren't out driving and listening to the real thing.
SpareOne Emergency Cell Phone
Even the most hardened luddites among you (all zero of you) can’t argue that a cell phone is good to have in an emergency. SpareOne knows this, which is why it’s hawking a no-contract, AA-battery-powered cell phone. Pop in a GSM SIM card and use it like a regular mobile phone, or you can use it to dial 911 (or the emergency number of whichever country you’re in) without a SIM card. And depending on the type of AA battery you install, it will hold a charge for a claimed 15 years. In short, it’s perfect for the tech-challenged senior citizen or the government-conspiracy-theory-espousing hermit (“The Man uses cell phone SIM cards to impregnate your brain with mind control nanobots built by the Kennedy brothers and Elvis in the basement of Denver International Airport!”) in your life.
Scores of options for amplifying the sound from your iPhone's speakers are on the market. But precious few of them are cheap, simple, and don't use any batteries. iSimple's MegaPhone, however, is. As the name suggests, it's basically a bullhorn that makes the sound from your phone's speaker louder (but not, it should be noted, higher quality). Proof that sometimes you don't need an elaborate, high tech solution to a problem.
Pioneer AppRadio 2
We were impressed with Pioneer's AppRadio, but we had a few bones to pick with it, namely (for not entirely unselfish reasons) the lack of support for Android devices. AppRadio 2 has resolved that by allowing Android machines to interface with the head unit through either a Mobile High Definition Link or Mini-HDMI connection. The glass touchscreen has grown to 7", and doubled the number of preamp outputs to two. Yes, the price has also gotten bigger ($499, versus $399 for the original model which will still be available), but opening AppRadio up to the other super-popular smartphone OS is a very smart business move.
Video teleconferencing is great, but have you ever found yourself running out of room on the screen for all the stuff you want to be up there? InFocus is convinced at least some folks have; why else would they release the Mondopad, a 55" 1080p touchscreen tablet? Inside you'll find an Intel i5 PC running Windows 7 Pro (replete with the full version of Microsoft Office), while the exterior features a 720p camera with four integrated microphones and a soundbar optimized for reproducing human voices. Plus there's a digital whiteboard function. It's pretty much the next best thing to having all the branch offices' conference rooms interconnected by wormholes.
Behringer Splash 100
There are three key ingredients for an off-the-chain pool party: Gallons and gallons of alcoholic beverages, a cornucopia of hotties wearing delightfully immodest bathing costumes, and a kickass soundtrack. The German audio experts at Behringer can’t help you with the first two, but they can help your next chlorinated carnival sound sehr gut with its Splash 100. This little number (which will retail for $99) is a floating, waterproof Bluetooth speaker. Behringer says it can pick up signals up to 230 feet away, and its rechargeable battery is good for three-and-a-half hours of listening pleasure. Just don’t use it as a CANNONBAAAAAAALLLLL!!!
You'll find Intel processors inside millions (if not billions) of computers and other electronic devices. However, smartphones aren't one of those devices…until now. Say hi to Lenovo's K800, an Android phone powered by Intel's Medfield chipset. The 4.5" display has 1280×720 resolution, and there's an 8 megapixel with camera with dual-LED flash on the back. Will we see more Intel-powered phones in the months and years and months to come? Watch this space.
RIM QNX CAR 2
In-car infotainment systems are getting more and more sophisticated, but updating and expanding their capabilities after they've been built and installed is not a straightforward process. RIM seeks to change that with the QNX CAR 2 system. Because it uses HTML5 framework, the system is easily scalable and supports a variety of operating systems and applications. RIM is marketing the system primarily at a vehicle manufacturers, and we're guessing at least a couple will jump on it.
Sony Xperia Watch
Considering telling time is one of the many, many things smartphones can do, it's no surprise that fewer and fewer people are wearing wristwatches these days. But Sony thinks there's life in wearable clocks yet, having used CES to unveil its Xperia Watch. In addition to telling you what time it is, its Bluetooth connectivity allows it to display caller ID, lets you compose, send and read texts and, if you have a Bluetooth headset too, access your phonebook and place and answer calls. Suddenly James Bond is fractionally less cool.
3D Systems Cube 3D Printer
Three-dimensional printers used to be reserved for the likes of Mr. Spock and George Jetson, but they’ve been available commercially for a while now. Problem is, those are as big as a piece of furniture and cost more than a tropical cruise. Mercifully, 3D Systems is about to release the Cube, a 3D printer aimed at the home or small business user. One of its parlor tricks? How about turning your 2D photos into 3D reliefs? Sure, the $1,299 MSRP isn't what most would consider affordable, but it's substanitally cheaper (and smaller) than most commercial-grade machines. Now the wait begins for the home molecular transporter…