Products Seen At 2014 CES: A Starter Dozen Or So

Of the 3,200+ exhibitors at this year’s International CES (formerly standing for “Consumer Electronics Show”) held in Las Vegas January 7-10, 2014 (plus probably another 300 or so exhibiting at associated/concurrent events like Pepcom, ShowStoppers, Storage Visions, the NMX New Media Expo, and/or in private suites, but not necessarily also on the CES show floor), I probably managed to see and briefly chat with/try three or four hundred, and quick-glimpse maybe half that again. Lots of smartphone/tablet accessories, bunches of smart-house stuff, acres of lovely-looking home-theater and computer display screens… even a few lonely desktop PCs.

As always, some products were amazing, some useful — and some “What were they thinking?” Plus there’s always at least one of what veteran computer columnist Jerry Pournelle (http://www.jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/) calls “The Dangdest Thing I Saw” … this year, I believe I saw at least three in this category.

I hope to write a bunch about these, and the topics they are part of, in the coming months.

Meanwhile, here’s a short list of some of the stuff I saw that interested, amused, and/or bemused me, some of which I am ready to buy for myself, some that’s a match for IT professionals or for consumers, in no particular order.

I’ll be following up with a short more general report about the show, plus a gallery of some of the 400+ pictures I took, and a few more product thoughts/listings.

  • Lenovo’s new version of their Thinkpad X1 Carbon notebook. Last year’s new model was elegant, spiffy, thin, lightweight, and powerful, and more than good enough. This year’s update is even better — a tad thinner, more powerful, more elegant. (Lenovo also had a fleet of new/refreshed tablets, notebooks, desktops, All-in-Ones, and smartphones.)
  • Kingston has a pre-production mockup of a 1TB SSD, following their 1TB flash drive that they showed at CES 2013 (and is currently available for like $1,200).
  • Tenba (I still have my old Tenba ballistic-nylon camera bag) intro’d new small messenger camera bag, sized for mirrorless cameras and for iPad Mini. Sweet!
  • E-Ink, popularized by its use in e-book readers, is being used in a variety of new products — including a trial partnering with Vanguard ID for intelligent luggage tags that, coupled with Bluetooth, may let you know where your astray baggage has gone.
  • Flir One thermal imaging — just add iPhone, for a tool that’s less expensive than traditional t-i tools… and can overlay more info on the image. ($399, Not yet available.)
  • NetGear’s new mobile broadband-to-WiFi/USB hot spot for use with AT&T, supporting dual-band, 16-hour battery, and up to 20 users
  • Iterium mini-peripherals turn your smartphone into a Geiger counter or UV detector.
  • Dual-OS (Windows and Android) tablets/convertibles from Asus (TD300 Transformer Book Duet, and also Transformer Book Trio) and others
  • USB turntables: I didn’t get to AudioTechnica’s booth, but I saw several others, up to $399. IMHO, ease of use and/or “I no longer have a turntable” remain the main reasons to go this route rather than getting a USB photo pre-amp.
  • Monoprice’s 30″ IPS Pro WQXGA 2560×1600 LCD Monitor — the only bigger than 27″ widescreen (as opposed to ultrawide) I’ve found so far below $1,000 — MSRP ~$700. (HP has a lovely one MSRPing for not quite double that. Granted, it’s intended for graphics/video pros, quality wise. Nobody seems to make 28″ or 30″ widescreens priced for us prosumer/productivity desktop users any more.)
  • Prong’s PuckPlug (?) for iPhone 4 or 5 includes an AC adapter-and-prong.
  • Ergo’s ear-based biometric ID. (Note, the millenials at the booth didn’t know the reference from Robert Heinlein’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND.)
  • Spixi Escargot — a tape-measure-like retractable iOS charging/synch cable.
  • OneWheel — Insert go-kart wheel, motor and battery into skateboard. Balance carefully!
  • Clearview’s transparent speaker (sounds remarkable!).
  • Olympus intro’d new cameras include the Stylus 1 fixed-lens 10.7x “super-zoom compact camera,” which I like a lot (and may replace my Canon G15 PowerShot with), and their OMD E-M1 Pro Micro 4/3rds camera where the image goes directly to the sensor chip, with a $1,399 lightweight rugged body. Bulky (by comparison), but very impressive!
  • Asus’ many announcements included the PadFone mini, “a 4-inch smartphone that transforms effortlessly into a 7-inch tablet.” This I gotta see.
  • Sonovation — ultrasonic fingerprint IDing.

And, like I said, many more — hundreds more that I did look at or schmooze with, thousands that I had to walk by, or never got near.

What I missed: I didn’t get to the high-end audio area. Browsing through the free issue of the high-end audiophile magazine in the “free pubs” rack, I see I missed things like $500/foot power cables, $140,000 amps, $30,000 turntables, and more. Lovely looking stuff, makes Apple products look like first-generation desktop PCs by comparison.  Didn’t get to the cars, other than a last-minute walk-and-take-pix scurry.

But I saw lots, no complaints here.