What’s New in Tech: CES 2014 First Look


eHow Tech Blog

It’s the beginning of January, and that means – as reliably as the swallows wing their way back to Capistrano – that the Consumer Electronics Show has come to Vegas. It’s hard to take in even a tiny fraction of all the products and tech shown off at the show, but let me give you a guided tour of some of the coolest stuff I’ve encountered so far on the first day of the show.

Parrot’s newest quadracopter. The Parrot AR Drone is a highly successful remote controlled flying machine – it’s big and imposing, and controlled with your smartphone. But priced at $300 it’s a pretty expensive “toy.” At the show, Parrot is showing off its newest take on the R/C quadracoptor. This one weighs just 60 grams – it’s barely there at all – and will be much cheaper, probably around $100. And it’s packed with sensors, like cameras and atmospheric pressure detectors, which make it smart and stable to fly. It’ll be for sale later this year, and looks incredible.

Jot Script. Ever wanted to take notes on your iPad but didn’t want to type? Jot
Script is a stylus that looks and feels like a pen – and when paired with the right apps, you can write, sketch, and doodle as if it were pen and paper. I played with it and the feel is incredible – it’s like writing on paper, with virtually no lag or delay, and a great, pencil-thin ink trail. It also features “palm rejection,” which means it can tell the difference between the tip of the stylus and your hand on the screen.

Kitchen Thermometer. My buddy and fellow eHow Tech contributor Rick Broida likes to complain about pointless technology that makes traditional devices simply more complicated, but this is not one of them. iDevices’ Kitchen Thermometer is a digital, well, thermometer, that includes a probe that you stick in your meat and an insulated wire that leads out of the oven door to a display that magnetically adheres to your appliance. The real magic though is that it comes with a smartphone app, so you can monitor the action remotely. And it can be set to notify you when your food reaches the right temperature. $80 – sign me up for one.

Dustcloud. The line between tech and toys is always thin at the best of times. I
was amazed by Dustcloud, a clever take on the classic game of laser tag. Dustcloud is a product that uses an RF (radio frequency) “gun” instead of lasers. That means Dustcloud can be played anywhere, and it doesn’t require sensors to be worn all over your body. The gun is both the emitter and the sensor, and sophisticated software lets the weapons have different ranges, effectiveness, and capabilities as you climb the ranking ladders. It’s seeking funding through Kickstarter this month.

Goji. I don’t know where it got its name, but Goji is one of the most promising smart door locks around in a market that’s crowded with alternatives like KEVO and August, just to name a few. It lets you use your smartphone as a key, and it recognizes you as you approach. That means you can track who comes and goes in your home, share “keys” electronically, and more. It also has a built-in camera, so you can see who’s at the door and unlock it without getting off the couch. Visitors without a smartphone can still use a physical key – the camera and digitial display
flips down to reveal a key slot. It’s getting close to shipping, and should be available
for $300 (yeah, it’s pricey) in the spring.

Anker Astro. Anker is a popular maker of mobile batteries and chargers, and the
Astro is a an amazing little portable battery. It is small and pocketable, yet packs
6000mAh, good to change an iPhone as many as three times. It has a nicely
rounded ergonomic shape, and no buttons of any kind – to know how much charge
it has left, shake it to wake the display. All for about $30.

Yunec Electric Skateboard. Yunec is showing off its newest product: What it
claims is the world’s lightest electric longboard. It looks indistinguishable from an ordinary skateboard from the top, and weighs just 14 pounds – a fraction of other electrics. It can go 18 miles on a charge and is available now (for a pulse-pounding $700).

Channel Master. Do you love the idea of a DVR like TIVO, but don’t want to pay
hundreds of dollars for one, plus deal with monthly subscription fees – and perhaps you’ve cut the cord from cable as well? Channel Master is a sort of DIY DVR for over the air (OTA) programming. The box costs $300 (and you add your own hard drive to the mix) and there’s no monthly fee because the programming data is (by FCC regulation) embedded in the OTA signal.

I’ve only just scratched the surface of CES. The show runs all week. I’ll have another
update tomorrow (and watch for Rick’s CES blog post as well). And early next week,
we’ll have some video from the show posted on eHow Tech as well. Questions about
the show? Tweet me @davejoh

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