As of January 1st, our home state of Illinois joined the growing list of states that have banned holding a cell phone while driving. Various cities in the Chicagoland area, including Chicago itself, have for years had cell phone bans in place, but the new ordinance is effective across the state. Of course, drivers can still make and take calls via a hands-free device like a Bluetooth headset or integrated hands-free car kit. But no more holding a cell phone while driving. Read the rest of this entry »
For the last few years, one of the most talked-about technologies has been 3D-printing. Opinions on 3D-printing range from hailing it as bringing about the next industrial revolution to being an overhyped gimmick. To be fair, much of the skepticism that 3D-printing faced was due to the cumbersome printers and expensive barrier to entry. But as multiple exhibits at CES showed us, both of those factors are dropping rapidly, as machines are getting cheaper and easier to use. And as they do, the future of 3D-printing will be decided. With major retailers already selling 3D printers, it’s only a matter of time before using a 3D printer is as easy as printing out a term paper. Check out some of our videos from CES, where we talked with innovators involved with every different aspect of the 3D printing process:
Makerbot Industries is one of the most well-known names in the home 3D-printing game, having started in 2009. They’re now on their fifth revision of their Replicator 3D printer. The Replicator v5 has been revamped to provide maximum reliability and ease-of-use for those new to home 3D printing, as well as seasoned vets. Billed as a prosumer model, the Replicator is equally at home building one-off models as it is doing prototypes for small business. The Replicator is currently available for purchase.
While much of the the attention at CES gets devoted to flashy, conceptual electronics with undetermined release dates, some of the best products on the showroom floor are practical and often immediately available, in addition to being innovative. Cobra Electronics, producers of various automotive and outdoor electronics, was at CES showing off some examples.
First up is the Cobra JumPack, a compact jumpstarter for car batteries. Portable jump packs aren’t a new technology, and there’s not often anything glamorous about them. But Cobra has put an interesting twist on this practical product by shrinking it to a size only slightly larger than a chunky smartphone. Despite its size, inside the sleek shell is a powerful 7500 mAh Li-ion battery which produces 200 amps of starting current and 400 amps at peak. That’s plenty of juice to jump start some of the most demanding engines. A built-in flashlight helps you find your way under the hood. In between emergency uses, the integrated USB port makes the Cobra JumPack the perfect device for charging all your electronic devices when you’re away from an outlet. The Cobra JumPack CPP 7500 will hit stores in April for $129.95. Read the rest of this entry »
3D printing technology has been all the craze the last year or so. We’ve mentioned it a few times before, from dinosaurs to movie props, 3D printing brings to life anything you can imagine. At CES 3D printing showed off how precise and colorful these new machines can get. One exhibit displayed a doll house, fully equipped with rooms and everything tiny dolls could need.
There was even a fully functional drum set.
While all of these things are creative and incredibly beautiful, many people behind 3D printing can see a bigger future than just great looking designs. The healthcare industry is a potential customer as 3D printing becomes more and more precise. Imagine a world where you can quickly design an artificial finger, limb, or even artery from a 3D printer. The future of 3D printing is here now, and only developer’s imagination can tell what it will create.
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Image courtesy of endgadget.com
It sounds like something from a Sci-Fi movie, but the Oculus Rift is anything but fictional, it’s a fully immersive virtual reality experience. The Oculus Rift has been in development since it’s inception years ago and during CES 2014 the latest prototype Oculus Rift Crystal Cove prototype has made a wealth of updates, making the new experience incredible. The new “Crystal Cove” prototype is now slightly smaller and runs at 1080p resolution. The biggest improvement made, however, is the unit’s enhanced positional tracking and motion blur technologies. If you take a look at the image above, you will notice white dots around the front headset. These white dots coordinate with the pre-positioned camera that will gauge where you look. Depending on what you are doing in the game, if you need to look up, down, left or right, it will track that information and correlate it with your character’s movement.
On top of added technology, the headset shows viewers beautiful imagery, all in 1080p OLED that is both sharp and bright. Oculus Rift has been in the hands of developers form every industry, from automotive, to even NASA. As the technology continues to improve, look to see the unit becoming more affordable, more intuitive, and more mainstream. Manufacturers are hoping this will hit the general public this year, but as with everything showcased at CES, only time will tell.
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CES 2014 started off with a ton of issues for me this year. The trip from Chicago to Las Vegas started off on the wrong foot, as I spent hours worth of flight delays and was on the phone for hours more trying to figure everything out. However, after much patience and airport re-organization, I finally made it to Las Vegas for CES 2014.
The show for me started on Monday afternoon and featured the ASUS desktop team. They have more than a few new products being introduced this year including a new desktop series with wireless charging capabilities. They also showed off the amazing new routers that will soon invade homes and make wireless coverage and speeds better than ever. And did I mention an amazing and affordable 4K monitor. Pivot Head was next on the long list of vendors to speak with. This company is a crossover between an action camera and a camcorder. The trick is you can do this right from the glasses that you are wearing. The quality is amazing and with some of the new features that they will be coming out with over the next few months they should take off quickly. Monday night featured our yearly trip to the Sony pre-show event. At this event I was able to see some of Sony’s new products including the VAIO Flip, Smart Watch, Smart Band, Tennis Racquet Sensor (still trying to figure this one out) and many other products. Sony always impresses at CES.
I started Tuesday once again with Asus notebook and tablet teams. Not only did I get to see a great assortment of tablets but a new 4K laptop that looked and sounded amazing due to Asus’s continued partnership with Bang and Olufsen. I was also able to take a look and some amazing 2 in 1 devices that will hopefully be available soon. Asus is really focusing on the Windows and Android convergence as well. They already have one 2 in 1 out in the market that supports Windows and Android and with another one coming this might be a trend for 2014 from Asus.
Next was Samsung which if you saw the booth at CES was nothing short of amazing. Samsung will be releasing a new design in tablets in the coming months. The Galaxy Pro 12.1 inch tablets is well big and powerful and really allow a user to get away from a traditional notebook and not have to squint at a small screen. While I cannot really go into much more detail on what Samsung has planned this year I can tell you that Samsung will continue to flex their muscles in 2014.
Lenovo continued the onslaught of new products that they show off at CES with the new Thinkpad X1 Carbon. This is by far one of my favorite designs ever and now they made it better. With the adaptive keyboard that changes based on what the user is doing makes the X1 even more attractive. Lenovo is also getting into the 4K laptop arena with the new a new Y510 series. I have to tell you 4K on a 15.6” screen truly looks amazing. The 13” machines that support 4K in my opinion just do not make sense the small screen just does not do the resolution justice. They also showed off all of the new desktops that they will be releasing this year. And yes desktops are not yet dead.
Dell was at CES for the first time in a long time. With the company going private I think we will see big things from this year. The only announcement that they had was the AlienwareSteambox. This nice little console will be trying to take on the major consoles in the market. Other than that Dell is moving in the right direction. Good machines at attractive price points.
The show floor was well for lack of a better term a zoo. People from all over the world converge on Vegas to see all that latest and greatest gadgets available in the not too distant future we hope. From curved TV’s to a Dog Collar that tells you the vital info of your pet you can see everything at CES. Here are some of my favorite products from the show.
- FitBit – no new products announced but they have big plans for this year.
- JayBird – this company already makes some great fitness headphones and they will be debuting there first fitness band later this year. It is a wristband design and has a really premium look and feel to it. Not only will it do step counting, calories, etc. But it is supposed to do heart rate as well.
- FitBug – really a simply solutions to counting steps and fitness. This company will also be incorporating fitness plans that you can purchase based on what you want to accomplish.
- SpreeSports – probably the coolest of the fitness monitors. And well less obtrusive of them all. This is a headband that is able to calculate body temperature, heart rate, and movement all in one device and all without getting in the way.
- I thought this was the best designed unit out of all the fitness trackers. And there were tons of them.
- Belkin – when Belkin purchased Linksys I was hesitant as to what they would do with the networking giant. Well they did something that I did not expect. They brought back the Blue and Black design with the WRT1900AC which if you are a Linksys fan you are excited about. WeMo is also going to get bigger and better. They showed new WeMo light bulbs, coffee makers, heaters, and well anything else they can get their hands on. The DIY brand of home automation is inexpensive but actually works well. Keep an eye out for it on Abt.com in the coming months.
- Infomotion 94Fifty Smart Basketball – I wish I had this when I was playing basketball. Not that it would have made me any better but at least I would have known what to work on. This ball gives you drills to do, tracks how quickly you shoot, and how well you dribble. Pretty amazing stuff. And I see more products like this coming in the near future.
- Sphero 2.0 – probably the coolest App enabled gadget that I saw. And it looked fun as well. Sphero is a little ball that is controlled by an App and the user controls with an IOS and certain Android devices. Great for all ages. You can even play again other people that have Sphero.
Overall even with all the delays long days of running around, Las Vegas the show was a great success. It is always fun to see what the next big thing might be. Unfortunately now the waiting game begins as many of the products will not even be available until this summer.
ASUS announced the Transformer Book Duet that offers consumers the best of both worlds when it comes to technology and operating system preference. The ASUS Transformer Book Duet can run both Windows 8.1 and Android. While a dual-OS tablet is something they have already offered, its previous generations products featured a tablet that ran Android, and when docked with a keyboard (which included an onboard Intel Atom processor) would switch to Windows seamlessly. However, the Transformer Book Duet can switch between Windows 8.1 and Android 4.1 at the touch of a button — in either tablet mode or when docked with the keyboard. Do this all effortlessly as the inside of the machine is a Core i3 for the base model along with a gorgeous 1366×768 display. If you want to add on the options, you can select up to a Core i7 processor, 128GB SSD, and a 1080p display.
Image courtesy of endgadget.com
When people think of CES, they immediately think of big-screen HDTVs and big surround sound systems. What people don’t think about, are the new in-dash car receivers. In-dash car receivers have become more and more complex in the growing years, providing drivers with a wealth of entertainment, customization and so much more for their favorite car. At CES 2014, Pioneer unveiled its NEX, also known as Networked Entertainment eXperience, with five new in-car receivers.
The new line of NEX will become your smartphone’s best friend. Control it with a variety of applications or improve your phone with the AVISYNC Networked Navigation to receive traffic updates, weather and even updated gas prices. Have a small computer, in the dash of your car! Look for them to arrive early 2014 from Pioneer!
Wireless speakers are an amazing tool to have when you want to listen to your favorite tunes, wherever you are. It’s no secret that wireless speakers are all over the CES 2014 floor. Manufacturer, Harman’s Infinity brand has its first entry in to the group with the Inifinity One. The Infinity One states that is provides portable hi-fi sound with the wireless capability and rechargeable battery that is estimated to work for up to 10 hours of run time before needing a re-charge. As of right now, there is not a price tag on the unit, but look for it to hit the market soon.
Harman’s plan with the new Infinity One wireless speaker is to revitalize the brand. To help in doing so, Harman has signed a 5-year contract with the bank Linkin Park, which will spearhead the advertising , showcasing the Infinity One’s power and portability.
Back in the 1980s, there were two things about the music that were big: the hair, and the boomboxes. Thankfully, both style and technology evolved, and the D-Battery-powered, shoulder-mounted cassette stereo went the way of the teased, crimped, bleach-blonde mane. Those looking for a portable, all-in-one music system were presented with numerous options of stereo mini systems. These classy, compact stereo systems were designed to fit in with either the boardroom or dorm room crowd, saving space yet still putting out respectable sounds. And for a while, the boombox languished in obscurity, a relic of times past. A few quick stops at CES 2014, though, and it looks like these sonic beasts have not yet given up fighting.
At the LG exhibit, our man on the ground demoed the new LG X Boom CM9730 boom box, which features a face-melting 25,000 watts of power. I don’t know how much power that is, but I’m pretty sure you can jump start a dump truck with this thing. The X Boom is not for the weak of heart, or those short on space for that matter. Each of the two speaker units is roughly the size of a shetland pony, and LG’s specs show that the entire package tips the scales at over 350 lbs! LG bills the X Boom as sort of party-in-a-box, putting out the kind of power needed to replicate the dance club atmosphere in your home, backyard or hopefully-neighborless apartment. Further bolstering its party cred are an auto equalizer that adapts to musical genre; the Smart DJ system, which gives users the ability to add samples and other sound effects to music; and integrated LED lighting that changes to the beat of the music.
Inputs include standard CD tray and dual USB inputs. The USB inputs give the X Boom a couple neat tricks, including the Jukebox function, letting users create custom folders and playlists from a flash drive, while USB-to-USB recording lets users swap music with their friends. Twin jog-dials make navigating external files a breeze, and act as DJ mixers when the music’s bumping. And one feature we always love: the LG X Boom supports wireless streaming from any Bluetooth device, so you can go deaf to any song available via streaming services.