CES 2009: Gadgets Galore
By Sandy Berger on January 12, 2009
New technologies and new gadgets are always a big attraction for those attending CES Consumer Electronic Show. We all look at in amazement at what the human mind can conceive and achieve. The big question, however, is always whether the new product will be the wave of the future or a flash in the pan. So we looked at some of the gadgets and gizmos at CES this year with that in mind.
We have divided our finds into categories like “Useful Stuff” and “Flash in the Pan.” Yet we will be watching in the coming year to see if some of the things we thought would be winners turn out to make a showing at Overstock.com while some of our Flash in the Pan items really catch on. Half of the fun of looking at these new devices is seeing how they are accepted in the actual marketplace. So let’s take a look at some of this year’s CES special discoveries.
Eye-Fi SD Memory Card
While the Eye-Fi SD memory card was available last year, this year they have added support for video. When you use this card in your camera or camcorder you can send images and/or video right from the camera to the Internet. This year’s model will also let you share your videos in real time over the Internet. The Eye-Fi card won this year’s CES “Last Gadget Standing Award” . The new card is not yet in production, but promises to be one of the truly useful new gadgets.
Motorola MotoZine ZN5
The MotoZine is a joint effort between Kodak and Motorola. It’s a cell phone with a really good camera that lets you upload your photos instantly to the web via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or MMS. The 5-megapixel camera has flash, autofocus and plenty of memory. The phone has an FM Radio and a TV out. It’s a fully enabled camera phone that sets the bar a little higher for all future camera phones.
Samsung HMX-H106 SSD Camcorder
This year Samsung is releasing three high definitions camcorders that record on SSD. The H106 has a 64GB while the H104 and H105 have 16GB and 32GB, respectively. This new storage offers a wealth of improvements for consumers. SSDs have no moving parts, so they use much less battery power. They are also faster and less resistant to mechanical failure. Since SSDs are smaller than hard drives, the devices that use them can be much smaller. This is a win-win for consumers.
The Palm Pre features that newly developed Palm WebOS operating system. It is a well-designed touchscreen cell phone with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, Wi-Fi, and GPS. Like the iPhone, it has no removable memory card, but the phones other features and the implementation of those features are extremely impressive. Initially the Pre will be available only on Sprint, the smallest of the three major carriers. This might slow its acceptance, but the Palm Pre has great potential as an excellent cell phone. It may well give the iPhone a little needed competition.
D-Link DIR-685 Router
For many years the router was a device that was hidden away in computer closets and under office desks. With the proliferation of routers in the home market, they have now come out of the closet. So it seems only logical that perhaps they should become better looking and more useful. This D-Link Router is an all-in-one product that combines an 802.11n wireless router with a storage device and a digital picture frame. It also has USB over Internet sharing. It’s both good looking and useful.
3M’s MM200 Projector
If you can remember making presentations with overhead projectors or large table-top projector units, you will be truly amazed at the size and the quality of this projector. Although not yet available, this technology is sure to be a winner and may even be built into cell phones. Several other manufacturers are also working on products of this type.
LG Watch Phone
The prototype was shown at CES and this will be one to “watch.” The thin 1 1/4” (3.175 cm) square watch has a touchscreen, speakerphone, 3G and Bluetooth. It can also take photos and video. It displays the time like a regular watch, but when a call comes in the screen changes to the phone mode. You talk by moving the watch near your mouth. Baby boomers are especially sure to love this, as it will immediately remind them of the Dick Tracy watch they saw in the comics when they were kids.
Polaroid cameras made quite a stir when they were introduced in the fifties. Then digital photography with its instant photography seemed to eliminate any need for a Poloroid instant type of camera. Now, however, the new Polaroid company has introduced the PoGo, which again combines a camera with instant printing.
The PoGo is a true part of the digital world. It is a portable digital camera and an instant printer combined in one. The 2” x 3” (5 x 8 cm) photos are printed on special Zink photo paper so they are inkless. The backing can also be pulled off and they can be adhered to just about anything. The clarity is excellent and images can be cropped, edited, and framed right in the camera. Gadget hounds will love this one. At USD 200, the camera is competitive; however, final acceptance by the end consumer will depend on the cost of the paper and whether or not the pictures can be made a little larger.
emWave PSR (Personal Stress Reliever)
This is a small handheld biofeedback device that has a pulse sensor and breathing pacer. You use it to adjust your breathing to center yourself and to lower your heart and respiration resulting in a physical relief from stress. Putting stress relief in the palm of your hand is certainly a good idea. We actually liked it, but will people really spend the money (USD 200) and take the time to make this work for them?
3D with Glasses
Sony, Panasonic, and several others had amazing displays of 3D television. Yet, you needed to wear special glasses to view most of them. While 3D movies are already available and many manufacturers are pushing for acceptance, we feel that as long as you need to wear special glasses, 3D will not win major acceptance. The next year will be spent in ironing a standard for 3D. If that standard can be implemented without glasses, it will be a winner. If not, we will keep it in our “Flash in the Pan” category.
Lenovo Dual-Screen Laptop
The Lenovo ThinkPad W700ds has a 17-inch LCD screen, but it has another unique feature. It also has a 10.6-inch screen that slides out from behind and can be angled for better viewing. At USD 3,600 and 11 pounds (5 Kg), this laptop is heavy and expensive. Lenovo needs to take this one back to the drawing board.
Vuzix iWear 920
Every year someone comes up with new wearable glasses for viewing videos. We have some glasses of this type in our gadget closet from six years ago. Last year the Oakley sunglass company came out with their version. Each year the glasses get lighter and better, yet for some reason they always seem a little too awkward. Although the Vuzix glasses are good-looking and the optics are good, we doubt that they will catch on.
Excalibur Einstein Robot
Excalibur introduced a talking Einstein head as well as a smaller full-body version. This Einstein spits out facts and information and has realistic facial expressions. While at USD 99, the smaller version is well-priced, we think that may go the way of the WowWee robotic Elvis head that was introduced two years ago. We recently saw Elvis for sale at Tuesday Morning selling for 1/10th of his introductory price.