CES: the Doors Open
The Consumer Electronics Show officially opened today, though there were some events last night, as well. The elves taking care of the homestead back in Los Angeles were excited to hear about it all, though not because they cared at all about the products, but only because it meant I was still away and so they had the place all to themselves.
First things first, I brought a USB cable along on the trip, but it went bad on be. This was a big problem since it meant I couldn't charge my phone or even my chargers. Happily, I realized that I'm in the right place for this problem to occur. I went on the CES show floor, came across a charger vendor I like, called TYLT, explained what happened and asked if they have a spare cable they can give me. Given that they actually make cables, the answer was of course "yes." So, all's well. And thanks the fine fine TYLT folks.
I'm not going to make an effort here to put things in any sort of cohesive order. I'm in the press room at the moment trying to type this before rushing out, so I'll just go through my notes and bring up some things as I randomly came across them.
There is a far larger number of electric scooters or "bike-like" vehicles (which have seats) than previous years, so it seems a growing field. Oddly, the one the stood out most for me was one from Fisher-Price. It was a toy, of course, but very clever. Actually, it wasn't a bike for transportation, but like one of those exercise bikes you see in a gym. And instead of the screen in front having all manner of health stats, it instead has a game-like video playing. So, although this is a toy, it actually can give some health exercise but entertain the kiddie at the same time -- and being stationary for the indoors, there's no concern of keeping an eye on one's child riding off.
On the surface, Meineke CarCare's product Revvy looked great. You plug the device into your care's OBD2 port (that's On Board Diagnostic, all recent cars have one), and when it recognizes that your car has an issue, like when a warning light goes off, it will tell you what the problem is, via the app to your smartphone, or will connect you to a real person at Meineke. All well and good. The problem is that if you don't want Meineke to know your data, it's hard-coded in, so it can't be shut off. And because there's GPS functionality, that means Meineke will known your whereabouts when driving. It's not inherenently a big concern, but it certainly does raise privacy issues.
I have a friend who's a big gardener, and when he creates compost from family leftovers and such, it takes about 18 months to turn it into proper mulch -- along with the accompaning aromas. He was fascinated when I told him about the Zera from Whirlpool that turns it all in to compost in just about 24-48 hours. And without any odors. It's a bit expensive, retailing at $1,199, but for those of you folks with big compost needs, it might be jusst the thing. And no, I am certain most people didn't expect to read about composting at CES...
One of my favorite products I saw was the Air Bar. This is a small device, about the size of a narrow ruler that turns any monitor into a touch screen. And it does this incredibly easily. The device connects by magnet to the bottom of a monitor (most approprirate on a laptop, rather than a desktop, though it works for either) and then you just plug it into a USB port. That's all. It retails for $69, and in March will have a model for Macs for $99, and a few new sizes for PCs.
Paragon is a wholely-own subsidiary of GE that develops products and sells them either under their own name or as GE. They're just releasing a nice temperature-controlled indunction cooking system, that basically looks like a large hot plate. Induction systems like this work by heating metal only, so they are warmer to the touch (though they can be hot from contact with the metal, until that cools off), What's particularly nice is that you can set the exact temperature you want to cook at. The one amusing thing was how the company's rep was trying to interest in why it's so great, and went on and on about the messy and inconvenient challenge of grilling a steak and risking overcooking it and splattering butter all over the place and... When he finished, I noted that people have been cooking steak for several hundred years without a real problem, so as good as the product is, I didn't think that that was necessarily its strongest selling point...
I also got to see that "smart mirror" I mentioned the other day, the HiMirror. At first, the person's description of why it was SO great was mind-numblingly awful, especially given the $259 price tag. You could adjust the lights on either side to set the right "warmth" for putting on makeup, and it could analyze your skin for skin care. And kept going on and on about all this. As my eyes began to roll, she fortunately eventually got around to saying that it displayed the weather information, could show your Google calendar and stream Internet radio, along with some other similar features. Whether this all necessary for most people, it's still at least offers actual value to some, and probably should have been the first thing she brought up, rather than "it analyzes your skin." and has lights.
The aforementioned TYLT folks have a new portable charger upcoming that like a great device -- and I do love portable chargers. This will be called the Awall. It holds 26,800 mAh which is a lot -- a mobile phone requires about 1,500 to 1.800. Usually such high-capacity chargers are quite heavy, but this was very respectable, almost light, at least for the capacity. The impressive thing though is that, in addition to two USB ports, it has an AC outlet! That means you don't need those annoying adapters to charge your laptop, but can just...plug it in with the normal power cord! I've seen similar devices but they've really been heavy. Can't wait to test this out. Its price should range in the $129-139 range
More to come...
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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