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Impressions from CES

Developer Kellye Greene attended the CES this past weekend – Here’s what she learned!


The Consumer Electronics Show on the last day brought plenty of eye candy to the showroom floor. The minute you walked in at 9AM you were surrounded by 3D TVs, projections and sound, home theater systems, and other high-end home entertainment. There were seemingly an infinite number of large and impressive TVs to be wowed by, but what else is there for consumers who may just be looking for their next practical electronic device? For the most part, I bypassed all the car computer systems, cameras, and Hello Kitty accessories to find something that I would be excited to buy when it hits the market or somewhere down the line. Here are a handful of notable products that I felt were worth mentioning, both good and bad.

Casio G-Shock – I’m a huge fan of Casio’s G-Shock watch family and had already been looking into buying a new one. I’m definitely going to now, when the new one is released. Their new G-Shock will have the same durability and awesome design as before, but they’ve added a number of bluetooth capabilities, specifically tethered to your smart phone, that can:

1. Let you know when your phone is ringing and display caller ID on the watch face. Why would anyone need this? Anytime your phone is on silent or vibrate you may not realize you’re getting a call. Your phone may be on silent or vibrate for many reasons, but instead of having to pull out that phone when it may not be appropriate to, simply glancing at your watch will let you know what’s up.

2. Find your phone. How many times has your phone been on vibrate or silent and you have no idea where it went? The G-Shock will send a signal to call your phone and also turn the volume up to the loudest setting so you can actually detect it.

3. Let you know when you are walking too far away from your phone. If you’re careless and always accidentally leave your phone behind, this feature is for you.


Smart TVs
– Most of us have already made HDTV purchases in the last few years and have no intentions of getting a new one ’til the ones we have crap out. But if you’ve got money to blow or you’re holding out and looking to buy soon, you’re in for a treat. Features of new TVs include a GUI that let’s you browse all your internet and TV apps. LG and Samsung are 2 that I checked out which are impressive enough to consider. The interfaces are very similar to what you may already have on your Xbox/PS3/Wii or Roku, Boxee etc. but is inclusive of even more apps and all this is already available through the wireless functions of the TV. If I’m not mistaken, these interfaces will have “software updates” available, so you’re not having to run out and buy a new box to get the latest apps and features. This particularly excites me because many are looking for cable alternatives. There aren’t perfect solutions yet, but they’re making it easier and easier to give up letting cable go and stop wasting your money on programming you don’t watch and its endless commercials. These new TVs and Devices are geared towards your personal and preferred entertainment. It also may mean many new interesting avenues for web/app/software developers to take advantage of this media and its features.

House of Marley Headphones – It has great sound (I prefer it over the Beats by Dre) and some of the most innovative designs I’ve ever seen for the headphone and headphone/mp3 player accessories market. Given the variety of designs and price ranges offered, I’d say if you’re looking to buy some nice designer cans/earbuds and accessories to match a more personalized style, Marley takes the cake. Besides, who DOESN’T love Bob Marley or his legacy?


iLuv - If you’re a Mac fanboy and love having extraneous matching accessories for your Apple products, iLuv pretty much has the market covered for needless stuff– for example keyboard covers, so your pretty (or not so pretty in the case of my old laptop) can be pink or blue, instead of the dull, default silver or black color.

For non Apple-using individuals who may be feeling left out, iLuv has plenty of gear for your Android and other devices too. Now, if only the lowercase “i” gimmick would phase out already.

Android Phones and Tablets - There are plenty of nice, new widescreen phones and accessories coming to ATT and Verizon, especially from LG and Samsung. I hope you’re eligible for upgrade soon because many look enticing if you’re still a loyal to your Google (maps) like I am. For button-lovers, it’s time to give it up. The “pictures-under-glass” concept isn’t going away soon, but the fact that the phones becoming slimmer with a larger screen face, making the adjustment to typing on a touch screen might become easier now that the phones can more comfortably fit into your hands horizontally as you type with your fat thumbs. At least Android users still don’t have to deal with embarrassing, and accidental personal information-outing auto-correct. There are also a few cool Smart Cases to go with these new phones that syncs with your phone’s clock to display in an analog format.
Toshiba Portege Z835 Ultrabook – This is the first Ultrabook I’ve had the opportunity to test. My main issues with many laptops are the keys and trackpads aren’t very responsive and there are generally too many button and trackpad shortcuts that accidentally activate functions you actually don’t want. The buttons on the keyboard were amazingly smooth to type on and the trackpad was excellent–it felt like I was using a Macbook. The design is pretty slick. It doesn’t blatantly copy that of the Macbook air, but it’s shiny and stylish enough to please most any casual netbook/laptop user. I have yet to see or test any other Ultrabooks, but this one gave me high hopes for the whole lineup seeing how flawlessly this one performed. It’s a computer I’d consider getting for lightweight work and leisure, while I leave the heavy-duty work to my iMac.

Gorilla Glass – Why might this be important? Anyone who has a glass-covered device should care. How many of us suffer from cracked screens? Exactly. The new Gorilla Glass is 20% stronger and I watched them apply 120+ lbs of pressure to a thin sheet of it without a single sign of breakage. Hopefully your next electronics purchase will have this to save you the trouble of hearing “what happened to your phone,” 5 times a week and the awkwardness of trying to read or type when half of your device is riddled with opaque cracks.

Ultra D 3D TVs – “But I don’t want to wear stupid glasses just to watch TV!” Me either, this is the only one at the convention that required no glasses. And the best part is you don’t feel like you’re hallucinating or have to throw up from dizziness after watching an entire presentation in nauseating 3D. Non-20/20 visioners rejoice. No awkward glasses on top of glasses. And for people like me who have Strabismus and/or Astigmatism or some other bizarre eye condition that makes it hard for you to focus on a single object in front of you (like I do) — Halleluyer! Now I/we can experience 3D with both of my eyes effortlessly if you have lots of money to blow on a 3D TV in the first place.

Sony Playstation 3 – It was the only video game exhibit I got a chance to check out (and briefly at that), but overall it’s the only one that matters since that’s all I own or plan to own. For those of us who just want to enjoy great games on a solid console and don’t need to brag about the library of games the console has, PS3 is promising some noteworthy games in 2012.

Most importantly there’s the new Twisted Metal. It’s been a long time coming for Twisted Metal fans, as the last full-fledged console version came out in 2001 (10 years ago! You’re killing us!) on PS2 called Twisted Metal: Black, which had that awesome Rolling Stones song for the scrolling . Now they, after lots of meticulous attention to details and the console’s capabilities, have developed a monster of a game after 5 years in the works. If you have a void in your life created from the lack of vehicular combat carnage, Twisted Metal will fill it. Your weapons, characters, and vehicles are now all customizable. If you want Sweet Tooth inside of Warhawk’s tank, you can have that. If you want to destroy New York City or Paris again, go for it. If you just loved the storylines and the original plot, no worries, it’s all there. Now add all of this with up to 16 players online and you hardcore gamers will probably need to start preparing your break-up speeches and wearing Depends, because your addiction to this game will make you a recluse and inattentive to personal hygiene–if that’s not already your lifestyle.

CES Fails:

Slingbox – The concept of being able to wirelessly have access to your home entertainment onto any wireless capable device sounds like a cool concept. But the downfall is that the only media that it caters to is cable TV. While everyone else is focusing on “how can we make TV better?” and trying to advance TV by creating or catering to more customizable, interactive and internet-based content, Slingbox is over here merely allowing you to watch your inadequate Cable on your phone or tablet. Ok, fine, what if I LOVE cable and can’t get enough of garbage over-priced programming and seemingly endless commercials? It’s still an epic fail. Slingbox doesn’t even support HDMI. Who the DOESN’T support HDMI?! Even Netflix and Hulu allow for HD streaming, and many devices are capable of playing back HD. Nobody cares about coaxial, S-video, or component. The next generation probably doesn’t even know what that means (heck, even my generation would consider it quite nostalgic and inadequate)!

Crosley Record Players – Not a complete fail–these record players look quite stylish for a music-playing medium that is clinging on for mass appeal relevance. But the styles very specifically cater to hipsters and people who grew up in/or appreciate the antique styles of the age of the Gramophone. I mean, seriously, one of the record players is literally a can of PBR. Style one like a boombox or a set of Technics, then more people I will care.

Ford – Yet another Focus that looks like a squished compact car. I don’t think anyone who wasn’t considering a hybrid before is going to take a second look with this one, hybrid and/or fuel-efficient or not. Let’s face it, we’re Americans. Ford Motor Company should know best what man Americans like–excess. We want the ones that look like Chargers, 300s, Escalades and Corvettes, but get 40mpg in hybrid form. And with more computers in cars comes more expensive parts to replace when they fail. I think my plan is to continue buying functional used cars made before 2005 for the rest of my life, because everything else is still too ugly and expensive to fix/maintain.


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