Gadgets We Can't Wait to See
The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show is quickly approaching--in less than a month, we (and you, if you follow our CES 2011 coverage) get to see what the tech companies have in store. We've heard a lot of buzz about what they'll show next year: 3D should get better and smarter (time to ditch those pricey shutter glasses yet?), tablets and e-readers will continue to battle it out, and Intel will introduce an integrated graphics chip that doesn't suck--or so they say.
Here are a number of gadgets and technologies that industry players have promised (or at least hinted) we'll see in January.
Philips uWand 3D Pointer
Are you sick of all those buttons covering your TV/Blu-ray player/surround-sound speaker system/Nintendo Wii/roof shutter/rocket launcher remote? The Philips uWand 3D Pointer seeks to eliminate button clutter with its 3D gesture-control technology. The uWand 3D pointer features a small camera that identifies beacons built into various devices. Philips says "devices embedded with uWand technology provide users with the ability to directly point and click and to manipulate objects in three dimensions, as if they were touching them directly."
Xpand Universal 3D Glasses/Monster Cable Max 3D Glasses
With 3D HDTV all the rage (or trying to be), expensive shutter glasses are on everyone's mind. Why? Most of the major manufacturers' shutter glasses work only with their own televisions--the industry hasn't standardized the technology yet. But instead of waiting for the industry to get its act together, Xpand and Monster Cable have come out with universal 3D shutter glasses that will work with all, or at least many, of the 3D-capable TVs on the market today.
Bracketron MobileDock Dashboard Suction Mount
If you're looking for a way to turn your iPhone/smartphone/iPod/satellite radio/GPS device into a dashboard centerpiece without installing a sophisticated mount, the Bracketron MobileDock Dashboard Suction Mount may be just what you need. The easy-to-install dashboard mount features "super stick-and-grip flexible material" that can easily mount on most hard surfaces. Plus, it sticks on there only with the power of suction, so it's simple to remove, too.
Golla 2011 Laptop Bags/Sleeves
For some reason, despite our increasingly mobile society in which people regularly carry around fancy tech devices, there is a severe lack of stylish, attractive laptop bags. Finnish designer Golla seeks to bring sexy to the stage with its 2011 lineup of laptop bags and sleeves. Golla's bags are known for being bright, colorful, and funky, and the full collection includes protective cases for everything from MP3 players and digital cameras to tablet PCs, laptops, and smartphones. The 2011 collection will feature "natural green, playful pink, hot red, creative turquoise, and cool gray."
Winegard Cio Mobile Digital TV
Maybe you have a TV. Maybe you have a TV in your car. But do you have a TV that you can take anywhere? (Don't say an iPad!) Winegard's Cio TV player is a multistandard media player with a 10.2-inch touchscreen. Not only is it portable, but it will also meet all of your entertainment needs: It supports iPod, CD, DVD, MP3, and SD/other card-media formats, as well as USB and game input. If that's not enough for you, it also offers optional mobile digital TV, Wi-Fi, and 3G connectivity.
Mashed Pixel Surc
When a universal remote control isn't enough--and you need something that's even more consolidated and convenient--look to Mashed Pixel's Surc. The Surc is a case that turns your iPhone or other smartphone into a universal remote control for all of your infrared-controlled devices. It comes with a free app download and is fully customizable, so you can choose content and position the buttons wherever you like.
Image: Mashed Pixel's Facebook Page
Jade Live Broadcaster
Now you can have your very own live, streaming Internet Webcast. MCN Technologies' Jade Live Broadcaster is a Wi-Fi-enabled, live-broadcasting camera that can send high-def and standard-def streams in a variety of resolutions (1280 by 720, 640 by 480, 320 by 240, and 160 by 120 pixels) simultaneously, with bit rates ranging from 2 mbps to 80 kbps. The camera also features a wide-angle lens, a built-in microphone, and built-in software for broadcasting through Amazon's S3 service.
Image: MCN Technologies
Not sure whether you should buy a gorgeous 27-inch Apple iMac or a 720p HDTV? Now you don't have to choose: The Kanex XD turns an iMac (or an Apple LED Cinema Display) into a high-definition screen to which you can connect various devices. The Kanex HD lets you plug in your Blu-ray/DVD player, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, or digital set-top box. The only drawback: You're limited by the iMac's maximum HD resolution of 720p. If you're okay with that, the Kanex XD will save you a bundle at just $150.
IoSafe Mystery Product
IoSafe, the company known for its disaster-proof product line, said in a December 1 blog post that it would be unveiling a brand-new product at CES 2011--what the product is, however, we can only guess. IoSafe left this mysterious photo on the post, along with a couple of clues: "It weighs more than a Cadbury Cream Egg, but less than an adult coonhound."
Think you know what it is? Head over to IoSafe's blog and speculate--if you guess correctly, you'll enter a sweepstakes to win the mystery product. (Remember, IoSafe is known for its fire- and waterproof hard drives. I'm guessing it probably has something to do with extratough storage.)
Image: IoSafe blog
Universal Wireless ElectroHub
Since the Powermat wireless charging mat debuted at CES 2009, tech companies have been trying to figure out how to get rid of wires and cords once and for all. The problem with the Powermat was that devices could charge only as long as they were encased in a special Powermat-friendly cover. The ElectroHub, however, will fix that: Instead of providing special cases, it will provide special batteries. Just pop those babies into your device, and it will be ElectroHub-compliant and ready to charge, no extra bulk necessary.
Dynamic Card 2.0
Sure, we've all heard of the new NFC technology that's trying to turn smartphones into wallets--but here's a 21st-century credit card in card form. Dynamics' Card 2.0 has a reprogrammable magnetic strip--not just so that it can work with existing readers, but for security purposes too. This is the first credit card with viable antiskimming technology: The card automatically writes a new, unique security code for in-store purchases, so merely having your credit card number is useless for identity thieves.
Recon-Zeal Transcend Ski Goggles
Cyborg ski goggles? Yes, please. Recon Instruments' Transcend ski goggles are GPS-enabled goggles with an LCD screen mounted inside. If you don't think that sounds really awesome, note that the LCD shows you real-time statistics. That's right: With just the press of a button, you can see your speed and altitude, a vertical odometer, the outside temperature, and even your location (latitude and longitude). It also offers a stopwatch/chrono mode, a run counter, the time, and the total distance traveled. It's as if you became Iron Man, except with fewer missiles and more snow.
TDK 3-Speaker BoomBox
Come January, cassette-maker TDK will put itself back in the music game with a high-tech rendition of the old boom box. TDK's new 3-Speaker BoomBox has a 6-inch subwoofer flanked by two 6-inch speakers. It pumps out a decent 35 watts of sound (15-watt subwoofer and 10-watt speakers) and features USB input (for iPods, iPhones, and USB sticks), standard 3.5mm and aux ports, and a 1/4-inch instrument input. You'll also find an AM/FM radio and retro volume/tuner controls. It's pretty, too, coming in a shiny black and sporting a sleek carrying handle.
ViewSonic Glasses-Free 3D Photo Frame
3D HDTV and shutter glasses are so 2010. Instead, 2011 will be all about glasses-free 3D displays. ViewSonic's 3D multimedia digital photo frame, the 3DPF8, promises to display photos in perfect, no-glasses-needed 3D. Aside from that revolutionary technology, the 8-inch, 800-by-600-pixel frame houses 128MB of internal memory, hidden touch-panel controls, and automatic 2D-to-3D upconversion.
PocketBook Mirasol E-Reader
I guess PocketBook didn't get the memo that said e-readers will be dead in a year, because rumor has it that the company will be showcasing an e-reader at CES 2011 that has a Qualcomm Mirasol color display. And by "rumor," I of course mean a leaked press release. PocketBook will reportedly show six different product models, including the Mirasol, which features a full-color display based on a reflective technology. Perhaps color electronic ink is just what the e-reader market needs to compete with tablets.
Image: Qualcomm Mirasol Prototype
Intel Sandy Bridge Processors
If you were impressed with Intel's Core i processors (i3, i5, and i7), then you'll be excited to hear that Intel has a whole new lineup ready for CES 2011: the Intel Sandy Bridge chip, which will be the first processor to marry Intel's high-end graphics technology with its CPUs. In other words, "integrated graphics" should no longer mean "you will never be able to play a game more advanced than Minesweeper on this computer." Also, the technology will be more energy-efficient--the power needed for HD video playback reportedly will be chopped in half.
Image: Intel's Dadi Perlmutter at IDF 2010
Asus Eee Note EA800
Asus's 8-inch monochrome tablet is not an iPad-killer--nor does it promise to be one. Instead, the 768-by-1024-pixel resistive Note is for taking notes (as its name suggests), sketching, and reading e-books. It isn't designed to be a competitor for any tablet currently on the market--it doesn't have a color screen, so it won't appeal to the visuals-oriented crowd of iPad lovers, and it's pricier than a dedicated e-reader (the expected price is between $300 and $600). Instead, it's more like a fancy electronic sketchbook. It does have a 2-megapixel camera, though I'm not sure why.
2010 was the year of the iPad. 2011 may be the year of the Android tablet. Motorola hopes so, at least, with its 7-inch Android tablet, the Motorola MotoPad. Google vice president Andy Rubin showed off the MotoPad at "D: Dive into Mobile" on December 6, and confirmed that it has a dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor and a front-facing camera. It runs Honeycomb (Android 3.0), and is expected to be the jewel in Verizon's tablet crown. (No official images of the MotoPad exist yet, so we mocked up what we think it might look like.)
Image: PCWorld mock-up
LensPen, a company that ordinarily makes special carbon-point cleaning pens for camera lenses and sensors, is introducing its new touchscreen cleaning tool: the SideKick. The SideKick will let you clean your iPhone/iPod Touch/tablet touchscreen without liquid cleaning fluid or cleaning cloths.
Kenmore Elite Dishwasher With Interactive Color LCD Controls
If you're like me, you're probably thinking, "Of all the things I would not put on a dishwasher, an interactive color LCD touchscreen is at the top of the list." And that thought, of course, is why neither you nor I will ever present consumer technology at CES. Kenmore, home appliance-maker extraordinaire, is proud to present its Elite Dishwasher with interactive color LCD controls.
This fancy kitchen buddy sports a colorful LCD touchscreen that just may entrance your children so much that they'll actually want to help you with the dishes.
Dexim P-Flip Solar Panel Pack
If you constantly find yourself running out of juice on long nature hikes, the Dexim P-Flip Solar Panel Pack will be your new best friend. This handy gadget is a solar-powered battery charging dock for your iPhone. The dock has two camouflage-colored solar panels (just in case?), and can extend your phone's talk time up to 8 hours (music time, up to 60 hours). Don't expect to use solar power as your primary charging source, however, as it takes a good 15 hours of sunlight to charge the phone fully.