Last night was the first event of CES, called Pepcom (which is the overseeing organization, or "Digital Experience", which is the specific event). They take over a huge ballroom, and fill it with a hundred vendors or so, and invite press for a more congenial environment than the normal demolition derby on the show floor. And food. Their food is always a bit mediocre, at least compared to the similar event tomorrow night, Showstoppers, sort of finger food-ish, but tasty enough and just fine. And they always have a "theme" which is always idiotic, though you learn to ignore after a few years, but it's still idiotic. Ultimately, though, it's the products which are the point.
I always enjoy the event, although this first evening (before CES officially opens) took a first step to confirming my suspicions that I wrote about the other day about how what lies ahead seemed wildly uninteresting. At Pepcom, the technology on display was very impressive, but mostly refinements of what already exists. There was a huge roomful of of "stuff," and I got through the evening significantly quicker than usual. Talking with some friends there, they had the same impression.
Because the show floor opens soon this morning, I'll give a fairly cursory overview of just a few of the products I saw that at least caught my eye. This is not a substantive discussion of the evening, and I present things here with absolutely no structure, just in order of when I wrote them down.
Last year, I wrote about an odd product called Foldi-Mate, which folded laundry. It was there again, with an improved version, smaller and better designed. But to my surprise there was a second, competing product, as well. The Laundroid, which was sort of a closet-like product with shelves. Who knew that automated folding of clothes was a market. If it is.
Coravin had one of the most bizarre but actually-good products. It's lets you pour wine from any bottle...while leaving the cork in! Really. And it works. Unlike normal usage when you remove the cork, this protects the freshness up the wine -- for weeks, or potentially up to years. (They said it's been tested up to 10 years, though I'm not sure how they did that, unless they began developing it a long time ago. Or perhaps they can simulate aging.) Basically, it's a device that fits over the cork, then a long thin needle punctures through the cork, the wine pours through the needle (more of a flowing trickle), and when you remove the needle, the cork -- being cork -- naturally "re-seals" itself. They have different models ranging from $200 to $1,000 for an automated version (the Model 11) with additional features. At that prices, perhaps it comes with a personal sommelier.. .
I reviewed the Thinium ReCharge portable charger last year, and largely liked it. It features a sort of platform that you push out which holds a charging phone in place, so it's easy to talk while charging, and has an AC plug in the back. Their new model, the ReCharge+ is basically the same, but it lets you switch the plug-in pins between Lightning, USB-C, and micro-USB in case you're a family with various makes of phone. Plus, there's a magnet which helps keep larger phones more stable. It retails for $70.
Kingston's Bolt is a very easy and elegant way to deal with iPhones when their storage is full. Sort of like a Flash drive of iPhones (which otherwise doesn't accept traditional Flash drives), you just plug it in and transfer data to it, which you can then delete from your phone to free up space (for instance, when you take pictures that fill your phone). You can then plug it into your MacBook and transfer the data there.
The Singing Machine is your basic home karaoke, but with one twist -- it features autotune, so now anyone with even a terrible singing voice can sound respectably good.
The Pogocam is a tiny camera that you can attach to any pair of glasses. It takes either 5 megapixel photos or 720p HD video. Clever in theory, it looks a little geeky, and you can't see the result of your photos until you remove the camera and put it in a case and connect to it with an app.
SanDisk makes an impressive-tiny and light portable SSD hard drive (solid state drives, which are especially fast and also don't have moving parts so they're less likely to break than standard drives), the Extreme Portable SSD. The 250 GB model retails for $129, up to a 1 terabyte version for $399. They'll be releasing a 2 terabyte model soon. For backup storage on the go, this is only about 2x3" and maybe a half-inch thick, and weighs about that of a pack of gum, easy to carry in your shirt pocket and hardly notice it's there.
And more. Lots of health-related products, home appliances, a few Smart bicycles, some Smart glasses, a Smart mirror from Kohler, car-related products, Smart locks, and a drone or two. But that's just a part of the first night...
As for the first morning, it's been raining steadily in town, so -- given that I park off-site (it's a secret spot I've used for almost 15 years, though it's getting less secret and I have to get there earlier each year to ensure a spot, I fear its days may be numbered...) -- the walk was a tad more wet than usual. Happily I checked the weather report before driving in and had my trusty raincoat. No complaints, mind you, it beats having to deal with a bomb cyclone.
By the way, as I type this in the press room, I overheard a British journalist checking his Android phone for some information, using the "OK Google" command. I specifically mention "British" because it was notable to hear that his phone answers back with a British accent. As I suppose it should!
Onward into the halls...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor