CES 2012 Gadget Wrap-Up: Cool To Crazy - InformationWeek

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1/12/2012
12:06 AM
Art Wittmann
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CES 2012 Gadget Wrap-Up: Cool To Crazy

The Consumer Electronics Show offers thousands of products, from the sublime to the bizarre. Check out some of the more notable entries of 2012.
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The Consumer Electronics Show is a nothing if not a testament to human ingenuity and innovation. Each year, we see things we never would have dreamed of, and a few that we did dream of, but didn't think anyone would build. Our wrap-up here just scratches the surface of the practical, impractical, and ridiculous products on display. Whether it's electronic, and accessory for something electronic, or software to run on something electronic, there's a good chance you'll find it here.

This collection has well designed, beautiful things it. On the practical side, Buffalo's AirStation is an early entry in what's sure to be a flood of 802.11ac wireless routers. Lantrox tackles the thorny problem of printing from iOS devices with nifty little print server--which will need to be cheaper on the street to be successful. The Dish tailgater is cool technology, though we think sometimes you should just turn the TV off.

Breakthroughs like Em Power's electronic reading glasses are just a first step in what can be done with near-eye displays. The Army is toying around with writing the image right on your retina--what could possibly go wrong with that?

Ruggedized movie cameras like those from GoPro are a great way to remember vacations, particularly if you're the type who likes to live on the edge. Some massive home theater speakers from Swan remind us of just how far we'll go to recreate the reality of movies right in our own homes. There's another complete show within CES dedicated just to high end audiophile gear, shown in rooms at the Venetian hotel. If you're looking for tube amps, high end turntables, and speakers made out of the most exotic materials, you'll find them.

WiFi's Next Breakthrough

The Buffalo AirStation WZR-1750H is the first 802.11ac wireless access point that we've seen. If 802.11n isn't fast enough for you--and for some applications it's not-- 802.11ac is just the ticket. This new WiFi standard works by widening the channels used, so that individual stations can get more bandwidth. In theory, the maximum throughput on 802.11ac should be about 1300 Mbps. Buffalo says that with some contrivances to work in the very noisy airspace of the convention, it managed 800 Mbps. Pretty impressive.

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