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Here’s what grabbed our attention at the sprawling CES 2014 gadget show in Las Vegas
The annual Consumer Electronics Show, Jan. 7-10 in Las Vegas, offers as usual a tidal wave of products. They range from jaw-droppingly awesome to head-slappingly dumb. Here’s our admittedly subjective list of “The Best of CES 2014,” including several CES Innovations award-winners, for previously announced products
Linksys WRT1900AC Dual Band Wi-Fi Router
Belkin’s Linksys brand announced an impressive 802.11ac wireless router: dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, 128 Mbytes, flash, four removable antennas (instead of the standard three), one eSata/USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0 port, gigabit WAN port, 4 Gigabit LAN ports. Data rates of 1.3 Gbps in the 5 GHz band (for 11ac) and up to 600 Mbps in the 2.4 band (for 11n); Linksys Smart Wi-Fi, which lets users remotely access the router from a browser or mobile app; open source firmware based on work with the OpenWRT community. The price is impressive, too: MSRP of $300. Due to ship in Spring 2014.
f201 Car Camcorder from VistaQuest (licensed to HP)
The Car Camcorder mounts easily on your windshield to continuously record the road ahead or behind you, with a 120-degree lens. Includes emergency collision sensor that stores and locks video when it detects a collision; motion sensor triggers the cam when it detects someone snooping outside the car; built in GPS lets the cam, and the car, be tracked; and it alerts you when you’re approaching a police speed camera.
NVIDA Tegra K1 mobile system-on-chip
NVIDIA’s new mobile SOC combines the vendor’s advanced Kepler GPU (apparently dropping the Tegra’s previous variant for the desktop GPU architecture) with 192 cores, with the symmetric multi-processing NVIDIA 4-Plus-1 CPU, which incorporates a quadcore ARM Cortex A12 with a separate “battery-saver core.” The K1’s four cores can be pulled into different configurations based on the processing loads. The 32-bit version is due out in mid-2014, with a 64-bit version later in the year, or about 12 months after Apple unveiled the first 64-bit mobile SOC. NVIDIA is flogging the new chip for everything from smartphones to gaming consoles.
Kolibree Connected Toothbrush
The Best Product for brushing your teeth if you don’t how. The French company’s electric toothbrush connects via Bluetooth (what else?) to an iOS or Android smartphone running Kolibree’s app. The app records every brushing and the stored data reveals, you know, patterns so you can improve your brushing. They’re looking for crowdfunding via Kickstarter during Q2 2014, for $99 or $200 depending on the model you want. The plan is to ship in Q3 to contributors.
Freescale Warp (wearable reference platform)
If you’re a do-it-yourself and you’ve been longing to craft your own wearable computer, now you can. Freescale’s Warp is a small uncased computer, about the size of a dime, analogous to the credit-card-sized Raspberry Pi. Warp is designed for developing, prototyping and testing things that you can attach the word “smart” to: watches, glasses, pedometers, heart rate monitors, etc. You pay for smarts in small packages: Warp is $149.
ASUS Transformer Book Trio TX201LA
The more they do, the longer the name gets. The ASUS Transformer Book Trio claims to be “the first 3-in-1, 11.6-inch dual OS Windows 8/Android hybrid laptop with a dock powered by a 4th generation Intel Core i7 processor” with a 1920 x 1080 IPS display. The Core runs Windows 8 and a second processor, an Intel Atom, runs Android and Android mobile apps. The idea of combining Windows and Android apps on a single display is certainly innovative. The question is how many people see that as the main job for which they want to “hire” the device? (This is a CES Innovations award winner.)
Parrot Jumping Sumo
Drone-maker Parrot announced Jumping Sumo, a land-based robot drone, intended as a toy. It has a Wi-Fi radio, rolling around on oversized wheels until you command it to "jump" and it jumps, up to 35 inches in a single bound. There's a built-in camera, which can stream live video back to the controller...a feature that frankly creeps us out. It will be avialable later in 2014, and pricing wasn't announced.
HP Pro X2 410 hybrid laptab
Officially, HP consider the Pro X2 410 as a Windows 8.1 laptop PC that is also, when you unhook the keyboard, a tablet. Which is pretty much what the Windows ecosystem has been trying to sell for over a year. Perhaps HP figures that 8.1 is such an improvement, buyers will do what they haven’t done much of so far, namely, buy. The 410 has an 11.6-inch screen, with 1366 x 768-pixel resolution, over 12 hours of battery life, a 2-megapixel front camera, and a back camera. The keyboard incorporates a battery back and USB and HDMI ports. You can chose among Intel's low-power Core Y-series Haswell processors. When release later this year, it will be priced at under $900.
LaCie Fuel wireless hard drive
Admit: you know you need a Terabyte of external storage for your iPhone or iPad. So does LaCie, which has announced the Fuel wireless hard drive to give it to you, for $199. Think of it: you can store over 500 movies or “thousands of photos, songs, and documents” according to the company, now a unit of Seagate. The drive has a built-in Wi-Fi radio (which can also serve as a router for a wireless network), for access by your iOS device, or via a USB 3.0 cable, by your Mac. The drive’s battery runs 10 hours on a single charge. It’s AirPlay compatible
Sharp Acquos 4K Ultra HD LED TV
Pixel lovers of the world, unite. Sharp is just one vendor that announced new HD TVs at CES. Sharp will offer four classes of HD TVs this year, but the 4K Ultra HD (shown here) is the Mount Everest-like high-end, available in 60- and 70-inch displays, priced at $5,000 and $6,000. Both models feature Sharp’s reworked SmartCentral 3 smart TV software, and boast 2160p-resolution, 120hz, THX 4K-certification, 35-watt duobass audio system, four HDMI 2.0 ports, and active 3D.
Toshiba Tecra and Satellite Ultra HD 4K laptops
Speaking of Ultra HD 4K, Toshiba revealed two laptops outfitted with 15.6-inch diagonal highhigh resolution screens. Both models feature native 3840 x 2160 resolution at 282 PPI. The Tecra W50 is billed as a “mobile workstation” aimed at the likes of engineers and 3D designers; the Satellite P50t at professional photographers, graphic designers and “4K movie enthusiasts.” The higher-end Tecra weighs in at less than six pounds, and runs the NVIDIA Quadro K2100M GPU with 2 Gbytes dedicated video memory. The Satellite features a touch screen. Both have fourth-generation Intel Core processors. They will ship in mid-2014; pricing was not announced.
Toshiba jumped into the Chromebook craze with a biggish splash: it’s first Chromebook, running Google’s Chrome OS, and sporting a larger-than-usual (for Chromebooks) 13-inch diagonal screen, with 1366 by 768 pixels. It’s 0.8-inches thick, weighs 3.3 lbs. It’s fitted with Intel’s Haswell-based Celeron processor, 2 Gbytes of RAM, 16-Gyte solid-state drive, two USB 3.0 ports, full-size HDMI port, Bluetooth and 2x2 802.11n. Included is 100 Gybes of free Google Drive storage. The vendor promises up to 9 hours of battery life. It ships February 16, for $280.
Brunton Hydrogen Reactor
At CES, nothing is sexier than “high science.” That’s how Brunton markets its Hydrogen Reactor, a CES Innovations award winner. You plug in the Hydrocore fuel cylinder (about $20 each), which is the hydrogen part of this, and the Reactor sucks oxygen out of the air (at least that’s free) and the fuel-cell reaction creates electricity which is passed along via USB port to whatever you’ve got on the other end of the cable: smartphones, tablets, rechargeable lights, portable game consoles, to name just a few. Each fuel cylinder has “more power than a fistful of AA batteries,” according to Brunton. Price: $170. Priceless: impressing the impressionable.
Toyota iRoad Personal Mobility Device
The iRoad is a…well, an electric powered, enclosed three-wheeled thing that allegedly can carry two people. It’s appearing for the first time at CES this year, though Toyota first revealed it in 2012 and has been testing it as a ride-sharing vehicle. The iRoad thingy weighs about 660 pounds, and its dual two-kilowatt motors can reach nearly 30mph for up to about 31 miles on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery. In a CES test drive, PC World’s Melissa Riofrio found it very nimble, fun to drive, and very stable, despite the rather dramatic way the vehicle leans into curves.
Qualcomm Snapdragon 602A chipset
The 602A is a version Qualcomm's Snapdragon system-on-chip that’s specifically designed for embedding in a vehicle: quad-core Krait CPU, Adreno 320 GPU, Hexagon Digital Signal Processing chip, integrated baseband processing and other audio, video and communication cores to do lots of stuff. It integrates Qualcomm’s silicon for 3G/4G-LTE, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE 4.0 for connectivity anywhere. Qualcomm’s promo video shows carloads of folks deeply thrilled to access “online services on-the-go” (shown: booking a restaurant table from your car’s dashboard touchscreen), and enjoying driver recognition and personalization, mobile device content sharing, and streaming video on demand. Watch the drivers looking at the screen instead of the street.
First unveiled at IDG’s DEMO conference in October 2012, Tarsier's MoveEye technology – packaged as a pair of eyeglasses - lets users reach out and manipulate icons, windows or images on a screen as if they're floating in the air. The initial work has been in 2D but at CES the tiny St. Paul, Minn., startup is demonstrating an improved 3D interface for MoveEye. The glasses have a built-in pair of stereoscopic cameras, sensors to detect the viewer's eye movements, and Wi-Fi to talk to the media box. By taking the user’s perspective, unlike, say, Microsoft Kinect, which watches the user and interprets his movements, MoveEye can be very precise in capturing hand and finger gestures through Tarsier’s algorithms and software.
Kirk H&J Corporation iNPOFi Foldable Mobile Wireless Charger, a CES Innovations award-winner
The latest variant of the vendor’s charging product line is a foldable or rollable charger with a 5000 mAh battery. As with previous products, Foldable MWC emits no, zero, nada radiation, and has “90 percent power transfer efficiency” to speed recharging a mobile device. It only charges devices that are “compatible” and recognizes them automatically. When rolled, you can use it as a 40-Lumens LED flashlight. But the company doesn’t say when it will ship or how much it will cost.
Pebble Steel smartwatch
Pebble, one of the pioneers in the still-being-born smartwatch market, unveiled Pebble Steel, a “premium” smartwatch, in two models, that’s thinner and slightly smaller than the original, and announced the launch of an app store, with app categories for Daily, Remotes, Games, Notifications, Tools & Utilities, Fitness, Watchfaces. You can choose either a Black Matte or Brushed Stainless model, both of which come with two watchbands: metal and leather. Like the prior model, they talk to either iOS or Android smartphones over Bluetooth. For Steel, Pebble added Corning Gorilla Glass to protect the watch’s e-paper display, a body of “CNC-machined” stainless steel, and an LED to show charging status. It will ship Jan. 28, both models priced at $249.
Huawei Technologies Ascend Mate 2 4G, smartphone
The “2” indicates this is an improved version of the original Ascend Mate, with its humongous 6.1-inch diagonal screen. The Chinese smartphone maker kept the screen size but added a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor (outside China, the phone uses Qualcomm’s Snapdragon MSM892), a more power-efficient screen, and a massive 4050mAh battery which the company says will run from nearly two to over three days. Also: 5-megapixel front-facing camera, 13-megapixel rear-facing camera, support for 4G. No word on pricing or shipping.
Intel - Edison, chip for wearables
As part of its push into wearable computers, Intel unveiled Edison, a new chip made on a 22-nanometer process – the board is about the size of an SD card -- and based on Intel’s very low-power Quark processor. It has integrated Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless networking. At CES, the company is showing Edison used in baby garments that are part of Rest Devices' Mimo Baby product line, to track an infant's heart rate, temperature, activity level and body position. Edison will be released in June or July 2014 to developers and do-it-yourselfers. Pricing wasn’t announced.
Samsung - Galaxy NotePro and Galaxy TabPro, Android tablets
Samsung unveiled three different screen sizes of the new Galaxy TabPro, 8.4-, 10.1- and 12.1-inch models, and a 12.2-inch Galaxy NotePro. The main difference: the large-format NotePro works with Samsung’s S-Pen, the TabPro models don’t. All four have multiple, layered pop-up windows for multitasking and the two 12.2-inch models feature a new four-pane multiwindow capability for multi-tasking. They run Android 4.4 Kit and you can chose various wireless connectivity options. The biggest models also 2560 x 1600 resolutions, 3GB RAM, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0. They’ll ship in Q1 2014, but no word on pricing.
Sony - Experia Z1S, waterproof smartphone
Sony's new Experia smarphone is the 5-inch, full HD screen Z1S, fully waterproof, running Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean), and sporting a rear-facing 20.7 megapixel camera. It's powered by a quad-core 2.2-GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor, with 2GB of RAM and a 3,000mAh battery pack. It ships with 32GB of storage and a microSD expansion slot. Avaiable via T-Mobile starting Jan. 13 for pre-orders; $603 upfront of zero down, $22 per month for 24 months.
Tobii -- EyeMobile, a CES Innovations award-winner
Tobii Technology EyeMobile, unveiled in September, combines an infrared-based eye tracker with a lightweight stand, into which you plug any Windows 8/8.1 tablet. The software creates an overlay on the Windows UI, providing eye gestures and movements that are the equivalents of finger touches to the screen. The result: hands-free interaction with a Windows touchscreen. EyeMobile now runs version 2.5.0 of Tobii Gaze Interaction Software, which added support for Windows 8.1 and performance and other improvements. The price tag is steep: the hardware and software is $2,345; a package deal including a Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is $3,245.
Asus -- VivoTab Note 8, Windows tablet
Asus’ entry in the 8-inch Windows tablet race is the VivoTab Note 8: IPS display with 1280 by 800 pixels, 1.86-GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3740 processor, 2GB of memory, up to 64GB of storage along with a microSD card slot for the same amount. There’s a 5-megapixel rear camera and a high-definition front-facing camera. It also comes with the Wacom digitizer and stylus, which can handle up to 1,000 pressure levels. Ships in March or April; prices start at $299 for the 32GB model and $349 for the 64GB model.
Polaroid Socialmatic camera
Still snapping after all these years, Polaroid showed off a new Android-powered camera it calls the Socialmatic. The 14MP shooter boasts both a high degree of social integration – as the name suggests – as well as Polaroid’s classic instant printing ability. Look for it to hit the shelves this fall.
Epson DS-560 sheetfeed scanner
Epson’s first wireless sheetfeed scanner has more than just that going for it – it allows users to scan documents directly to various cloud services, including Google Docs and Evernote, as well as scan directly to each other’s mobile phones. It’ll cost $450 when it’s released in March.
Technogym -- Google Glass controlled treadmill
Another first for Android and Google: the “first Google glass controlled treadmill,” previewed at CES by the Italian-based Technogym. Climb aboard, slap on your Google Glass thingy and you can interact with the treadmill’s integrated Android tablet, not to mention Technogym’s “mywellness cloud,” which is part of the “Technogym Ecosystem,” which has its own app store. And you know what all that means: personalized training with feedback and progress tracking data and “favorite entertainment options.” For the tablet, Technogym created its own software platform, dubbed UNITY, with APIs for third-party apps and devices. No word on shipping or pricing.
GlassUp, eyeglass display for incoming emails, texts, etc
The idea is simple but hard to do, apparently: GlassUp’s eyeglasses use Bluetooth to link with your mobile phone, and a phone-based app for a read-only display incoming text on the eyeglass lenses: emails, messages, tweets, etc. That’s different from Google Glass which makes you look up and away. But GlassUp has a way to go, says The Verge’s Ellis Hamburger, who tried out a prototype at CES. It projects “tiny green lettering” that “was difficult, if not impossible to read…skewed and nearly illegible,” he writes. Due in summer 2014, priced at $399.
VIEVU-- LE3 wearable camera
VIEVU improved its law-enforcement-targeted wearable camera. The LE3 offers HD or Widescren SD video resolution, supports H.264 video compression, 16GB internal storage, up to 5 hours recording and 12 hours of video storage, sliding lens cover that also acts as the on/off switch, improved security, image quality and low light performance. All in a waterproof package the size of a pager, weighing just 2.8 ounces. Available now, priced at $899, including the Veripatrol secure file management system.
ZTE -- Projector Hotspot
ZTE combined a portable projector and a Wi-Fi hotspot in the…yes, Projector HotSpot. The Android-powered box is 4.7 x 4.7 x 1.1 inches, and offers up to eight Wi-Fi client connections via the built-in 802.11n radio. It has one HDMI port, Bluetooth, a headset jack, and a USB port that can take a cellular/LTE radio dongle. It projects images up to 120 inches. There’s a 800 x 480 pixels WVGA 4-inch capacitive touchscreen. Ships sometime in 2014; pricing hasn’t been announced.
Elmo -- BOXi T-200, HD LED video projector
The T-200 is a small, lightweight (4 x 6 inches, 10. 6 ounces) DLP projector, with 1280 x 800 (WXGA) resolution, and brightness of 150 lumens with a long-life LED lamp. It can project images up to 68 inches diagonally. It has a single full-size HDMI port, a 1 watt mono speaker, and a mini-stereo output jack for sending sound through an audio system, speakers, or headphones. Pricetag is $429. Art Feierman, writing at ProjectorReviews.com, says it’s “enough to do some serious things and do them reasonably well as long as the environment and projected size are reasonable.” It lacks a USB or SD port.
QuantuMDx -- Q-POC, handheld DNA analyzer
This UK-based startup has developed a set of technologies, being packaged into a handheld device, that can extract DNA from a patient’s fluid sample and run a series of diagnostics to detect and identify various diseases, in less than 20 minutes, right beside the patient. QuantuMDx is working with partners to develop companion diagnostics in the form of disposable cartridges. Q-POC is still in development, and due out in 2015. It’s aimed at professional healthcare workers in both developed and developing countries, but the approach could be the basis of a new level of low-cost self-care or at least self-diagnosis.
Nuance -- Dragon Mobile Assistant, for wearable devices
Nuance is showing a port of its Dragon Mobile Assistant to Omate’s Android-based TrueSmart watch, finally letting you do more with the less of a smartwatch. You simply talk to your watch, and Dragon turns your words into inputs to make calls, send emails, create a text message, manage your calendar, search the web and much more. The Omate device is different from most smartwatches because it doesn’t need a separate smartphone: It can make cellular calls and Wi-Fi connections on its own.
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