CES 2014 standouts
CES, being the massive trade show that it is, has its fair share of weird, useless, or just plain bad tech on display. Still, every year a few goodies make us sit up and pay attention.
The standouts of CES include Google Glass apps, saucy booth signs, 4K projectors, 3D printers, digital entertainment gear that only Brad Pitt could afford, and more.
Revolv — A friend to the Internet of Things
The Internet of Things has been highly fragmented until now: Each device works with its own app, and controlling them all from a central location is difficult.
Revolv is the solution to that problem, connecting your Nest thermostat to your Sonos speakers to your Philips light bulbs.
Unlike most of the gadgets on display at CES, Revolv is a real product ready to improve your life. —Caitlin McGarry
Revolv | $299
Omate Truesmart — Speak to your smartwatch
The Omate Truesmart smartwatch powered by Nuance didn’t quite make the cut for our Best of CES awards. But as an “independent” smartwatch with an all-day battery and an integrated SIM (no smartphone required!), the Truesmart is worthy of mention.
With new Nuance voice-recognition technology added to the watch itself, Omate is mounting a quiet challenge to Google in the wearable market. —Mark Hachman
Omate Truesmart | starts at $199
Sony Head Mounted Display — Fool your brain
By itself, the HMZ-T3W seems like a waste of money: Even with the most compelling first-person video, you’re always aware that you’re simply watching a video screen as you move your head around.
But pairing a motion tracker and “surround” video—something that Sony says can be done with a fairly conventional camera—fools your brain into thinking you’re really there, panning your head around as you speed down a mountain or along a race track.
Sony may not change the world with the HMZ-T3W, but a world of “surround” GoPro video suddenly seems possible. —Mark Hachman
PointGrab technology — Become your own remote control
You press your fingers to your lips, and the television mutes. You hold up a hand, and your smartphone takes a selfie for you.
If this is the functionality that the people at PointGrab are showing off this year, I can’t wait to see what they have next year. —Amber Bouman
MakerBot’s Replicator 3D Printing Platform — A triple threat
MakerBot paved the 3D-printed way this year with the launch of three new printers: the Replicator, the Replicator Mini, and the Replicator Z18. All share some new under-the-hood upgrades over their predecessors.
All three sport an on-board camera that captures the build process, a new extruder (called the Smart Extruder) that attaches using high-powered magnets, and wireless connectivity that can send a notification message to your mobile devices when a print is finished or if you’re low on filament. —Leah Yamshon
MakerBot’s Replicator 3D Printing Platform | pricing starts at $1375
Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass — Shoo, germs!
If you own an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy S4, you touch Corning’s Gorilla Glass on a daily basis.
Your hands are incubators for germs to grow, which Corning plans to mitigate with its new antimicrobial Gorilla Glass. The glass is made with ionic silver, which has germ-repelling agents that could keep you healthier—or at least prevent your phone from becoming a carrier of the plague. —Caitlin McGarry
Antimicrobial Gorilla Glass | included with price of smartphone
Klipsch booth signage — Party on
We’ve all done it: cranked our stereo just a wee bit louder than the neighbors can tolerate—and then laughed at them when they protested.
I’ve had Klipsch tower speakers in my home theater for years, and I’ve driven the neighbors over the edge more than a few times (usually while playing Frank Zappa’s “Willie the Pimp”).
Way to connect with your customers, Klipsch. —Michael Brown
Piper — Home automation made easy
Piper gets my vote not just because it’s an awesome piece of home-automation hardware, and not just because it’s simple to set up, and not just because it has some great video functionality via a fish-eye lens, but because the app that accompanies it might be the best piece of home-automation software I’ve seen yet.
Home-automation makers, take note: This is how you do home-automation apps. —Amber Bouman
Piper | $239
Channel Master DVR+ — A very versatile DVR
Aimed at both cord cutters and “cord nevers,” the DVR+ from Channel Master is an incredibly slim dual-tuner DVR that records over-the-air signals when you connect an antenna.
You connect your own hard drive, which keeps the hardware cost down, but the killer part is that you won’t pay a monthly cost for the programming guide.
Once you buy the box, that’s all you’ll ever have to pay, unless you want to rent or buy content from the built-in Vudu channel. —Susie Ochs
Channel Master DVR+ | $250
Kaleidascape Cinema One — Great if you have the cash
If you have a home theater in your mansion, you’ll love this luxury media player even more than beluga caviar.
It makes a bit-for-bit digital copy of your DVDs and CDs so you don’t have to insert physical discs to enjoy your media, and it can even store digital copies of your Blu-rays, although their license requires that the disc be inserted for the movie to play.
The interface is gorgeous, and when you scroll around the grid, the titles reorder themselves to put related films next to the one you have selected.
It’s a product for the 1 percent, absolutely, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly cool. —Susie Ochs
Kaleidascape Cinema One | Starts at $3995 with 4TB of storage
Sony Life Space UX — Spacey projector and more
CES always has fun futuristic demos of concepts and prototypes, but my favorite was Sony’s Life Space UX.
This fully connected living-room concept showed unobtrusive ways to interact with various pieces of entertainment content. For example, a projector embedded in your overhead kitchen lamp could display widgets onto your table for you to read while you’re eating breakfast, and hidden lighting fixtures and other projectors could make the ceiling mirror the sky outside.
One part is available to purchase: the 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector, which looks just like a regular piece of furniture. —Leah Yamshon
Sony Life Space UX | $30,000 to $40,000 is the expected pricing for the projector only
IOgear GKMB02 Bluetooth dongle — Stay focused
If you’re tired of switching your focus between your PC, tablet, and smartphone as you deal with text messages, email, and the like, you’ll dig IOgear’s GKMB02 Bluetooth doohickey.
Plug it into your Mac or PC, establish Bluetooth connections with up to four other devices, and manage all five with one mouse and keyboard (well, you can’t use a mouse with iOS devices, but that’s Apple’s limitation, not IOgear’s). —Michael Brown
Lenovo Beacon Home Cloud — Storage geek’s delight
Lenovo’s Beacon Home Cloud looks like a winner. The two-bay NAS has an HDMI output and runs the XBMC open-source home-theater software, so you can connect it directly to the TV in your living room and operate it almost as you would a home-theater PC.
It can accommodate up to two 3TB hard drives in its tool-less enclosure (either 2.5- or 3.5-inch mechanisms), and it supports hot swapping (so you don’t need to power it off to replace a hard drive). I can’t wait to get this box into the PCWorld Labs. —Michael Brown
Lenovo Beacon Home Cloud | $199
Sony FDR-AX100 4K Handycam — Only a handful
Sony needs 4K content for all those 4K Bravia TVs it’s hoping to sell. The latest version of its 4K Handycam should help with that effort. The predecessor—the FDR-AX1—was a big, bulky camera with a big, bulky price tag to match.
Sony shrank down both for the FDR-AX100. The new Handycam model fits comfortably in your hand, and its promised price of around $2000 is about half of what you’d pay for last year’s model. —Philip Michaels
Sony FDR-AX100 4K Handycam | $1999
Lighting Science Good Night bulb — Get some ZZZZs
Certain hues of blue light can keep you up at night, because they send a trigger to your brain to stay alert and awake. So why not remove those hues at your bedside? That’s what Lighting Science did for NASA, and now it’s doing the same with a commercial light bulb.
The Good Night bulb bathes your bedroom in white light, letting you enjoy that book before bedtime while your brain gets ready to head off to dreamland. —Philip Michaels
Hydrogen-powered Toyota — Ready to roll in 2015
Not all concept cars turn into something real, but Toyota’s FCV, scheduled to ship by 2015, will be the first hydrogen-powered car to hit the road. And if the new fuel technology isn’t innovative enough for you, the sci-fi styling of this car will shout, “I’m new, cool, and different.”
The bright side of hydrogen-powered cars is that they spew water instead of carbon dioxide into the air. As for the dark side (*cough* Hindenburg *cough*), Toyota plans a big campaign to educate consumers as to why this vehicle won’t share a similar fate. The company is investing in hydrogen fueling infrastructure, too. —Melissa Riofrio
Toyota FCV | price not available
Hyundai Google Glass Blue Link app — Car commander
Car apps started popping up everywhere at CES 2014, but Hyundai won the race with its Google Glass Blue Link app, which is already available on the MyGlass section of the Google Play store.
For one thing, the app features the same Hyundai Blue Link remote car controls that you can get via smartphone, website, or the Blue Link interface in the car. However, Hyundai promises “a special experience created specifically for the new wearable technology” in the future.
We don’t know where Google Glass is going—it’s still in development, being meted out slowly to eager Explorers—but we do know that the human-car relationship is changing rapidly as cars become more connected and more communicative. This Glass app is a prime example of the possibilities. —Melissa Riofrio
Hyundai Glass app | Free