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1/18/2012
09:49 AM
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CES 2012: The Coolest Stuff

Here are 6 products or technologies that really stood out for me at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

When I got home from Vegas everyone asked me what was the coolest stuff I saw. I've already written up a lot, but I'll add a few more here that stuck in my mind.

Ultraphones

The first that comes to mind is the Samsung Galaxy Note, one of a generation of Android phones that are large enough to straddle the boundary of tabletism. The other that comes to mind is the Motorola Droid RAZR.

I've played with both and they're amazing and beautiful. They're a big part of the reason I think Android is zooming past iOS in so many ways. But I would hesitate to buy one for myself. I think they're too big as a phone. They don't fit well in a pocket and the screens are so big you (or at least I) can't reach the far side of it with my thumb. One-handed operation is problematic.

Magisto

Magisto is an app and a cloud-based service which takes your poorly organized and poorly shot videos and makes from them a consolidated video with only the interesting parts. It's kind of hard to believe that it works, but it seems to work, based on demos and my own tests with my own videos. Magisto was the winner of the CES Mobile Apps Showdown (at which I was a judge).

The idea is that, if you're like me, you suck at making videos. You take lots of pictures of your kids and vacations and individually they're boring. Video editing is hard and the software is generally expensive and complicated. Instead, you give the video collection to Magisto; it analyzes the video and selects the best parts, joins them together and creates one good video out of them. You have to see it to believe it, and since it's free you may as well try.

Powerbag

I love the idea of the Powerbag, although I have some personal problems with the implementation. This is a backpack with a built-in battery pack and charging system. They make messenger bags and briefcases too.

They sent me one of their Business Class backpacks, the top of that line. It has a battery case capable of handling a 9000mAh battery, which is huge, and which they sell for the downright reasonable price of $59. I tried to use this bag as my CES bag, but when I tried to pack all my gear in it I ran out of space. My conventional, unpowered backpack (a CODi CT3) carries much more.

I like the idea of Powerbag so much that I'm going to have to reconsider all the crap I put in my backpack, even on long trips. I may have to cut down to 1 notebook computer.

Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA

Everyone is talking about the YOGA, so-named because it bends over backwards. On the one hand it's an ultrabook in conventional notebook configuration. On the other, it opens 360 degrees (or nearly so) to make the screen a tablet with a pure touch interface.

I've heard conflicting reports about whether this device will be released before Windows 8; it's clearly targeted at Windows 8 and isn't all that compelling on Windows 7. I'd probably need a few days with it to see if it really feels right, but it's definitely creative and could be a must-have once Win8 ships.

VMWare Virtualizes the Smartphone

Byte has covered this before, but LG was demonstrating at CES an Android smartphone running a VMWare hypervisor. Two Android VMs running on the device can be used as the business phone and personal phone. The two environments are logically separate and can even have separate phone numbers with separate billing if the carrier supports multiple numbers on a device. (With LTE this should be easier to do.)

Yes, it's not new, but I mention it again because I think it's an outstanding idea and the ultimate solution to the work/personal management problem for phones. Even if you get fired and the company wipes your phone remotely, they only need to wipe the business VM.

Take Your Phone Out For A Spin

I stumbled across this company myself and was stunned at the idea. It's a case for a device, probably a phone, which includes a charger based on a little turntable in the case. You spin the wheel (turntable) or put the phone down on it and spin the phone, and the kinetic energy is harnessed to charge the phone.

nVolutions, the company, claims that you really can keep your phone charged this way. Is it just cool and interesting or is it actually practical? Hard to say. The amount of energy involved is rather trivial, so it's a joke to call this a "green" product. Strangely, nVolutions has no web site, but does have a Facebook page.

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