With all the hysteria at CES, it was easy to overlook the quieter booths, the ones without puzzling celebrity endorsers (Amy Tan for Palm, for example), or booth babes standing on dresser-sized speakers. So of course, that's where we looked for refuge, in the hidden corners and found things like these new Cableyoyo Pop cord winders. These are the little siblings to the full-sized Cableyoyos, and are meant for portable devices. The pop is suction-cupped onto your device and your earphone cords are wrapped around it, with clips for your earbuds for easy access. cableyoyo pop comes with ten removable "pop art" stickers, and eventually there will be downloadable templates available for further customization.
Cableyoyo pop will be available in April.
I was able to resist gambling while in Vegas for CES (though, truth be told, only because I have this cockamamie theory that you wear down reserves of good luck by squandering it like that). What I ultimately couldn't resist was going to an oxygen bar. I passed several of these while walking around and was curious because I was tired and needed a pick-me-up of some kind after reaching caffeine saturation at 18 cups. The two women working at the Zen Zone (I can't find the website if there is one) at the Aladdin promised that a few minutes of aromatic oxygen therapy combined with head and back massage would both relax and energize me. That made no sense to me, as I'm never relaxed and energetic at the same time.
About five minutes into it, I felt wide awake. The four aromas mixed together were very subtle, though they looked like Cool Aid, and the colorful see-through contraption made soothing bubbling noises. The "treatment" lasted about 15 minutes, and afterwards I walked around for another hour much more alert and yet calm. I thought this must be what it's like to be just a little bit drunk without being sick, a state I can never achieve because my mutant genes interpret alcohol as poison.
Though I'm on the lookout for a home oxygen bar to put in my own kitchen, I wouldn't widely recommend recreational use of oxygen -- my mutant genes also make me incredibly gullible. According to an authority quoted in FDA Consumer Magazine (Oxygen Bars: Is a Breath of Fresh Air Worth It?), I experienced a placebo effect. There's apparently nothing to be gained by regular use of oxygen. This information doesn't deter me, I know what I felt, and I want one of those machines.
Hours before SJ's MacWorld 2006 keynote and I was hoping this OK computer charm ring would feature an Apple Newton or a NeXTcube instead of a generic ol' PC. Still, you have to give the buyers at Fred Flare credit for recognizing the appeal of a wearble computer ring that does nothing but look cute and snag in crevices. The glass blue band (of death) is reminiscent of Fimo and with any luck the brass charm ages out nicely, dusted with a corroded green patina. $10 at FF.
Craftsman's Flippin' Sweet Resistor Ring is probably best kept dry. It is made of wood afterall. But I like the centerpiece, a rare resistor turquoise mined in craftsman's basement. For $18 who can resist? And Dollop here has like-minded resistor earrings to complete the set.
Never let your sense of fashion get in the way of wearing what's amusing, especially when your robots' kinematics are ear-driven. Retrosales' plastic handmaidens go for $10.
Special surplus: Swapatorium's Diary of a Girl entries are intriguing. She bought an adolescent girl's diary, circa 1970, at a yard sale and posted a few photos and passages. A couple of commenters have expressed concern about publishing the contents of a diary, even three decades old, without permission. See posts one and two.
The Consumer Electronics Show is an orienteering nightmare that requires a great deal of stamina and patience to get through. And for someone like me -- zero sense of direction, tendency to fall victim to temporary amnesia when attacked by sensory overload -- it borders on dangerous. Having failed to learn my lesson last year, I once again wasted many hours this past week walking in circles to find exhibitors and events spread out over what seemed like miles of convention center and hotel space. Did it help that Mia and Jenna were there to share the navigational responsibilities? Not really.
Aside from a couple of keynote events, the only thing I was really determined to see this year was CEA's Technology is a Girl's Best Friend Diamond Product Showcase. This year's showcase was based on a new survey by CEA on women's preferences, and selections in each category were made by a panel of judges made up of top industry experts. Honorees were to be given top level exposure at CES for their winning products.
Mia seemed to recall that last year, the showcase was located in a small area of the Central Hall, but the ladies at the information desk didn't know what she was talking about. I suggested that it must have been moved to a bigger, better location.
I have no idea why Jenna was looking in there. What are those things?
We followed Hello Kitty around for a bit...
but the self-serving icon only led us to herself.
I don't think any one of us from the Popgadget crew was really overwhelmed with the product presentations over at CES this year; after awhile all the plasma TVs, cell phones and portable media players start to blur and look the same, not to mention there didn't seem to be a whole lot of product announcements this year. There's only so much sensory overload you can take - this on top of the fact that the show's in Vegas which is an assault on the senses already.
We joke that the most fun we had at the show was the breezy golf cart ride that took us from one end of the Convention Center to the other (a ride that was much too short by the way), but a close second was the elaborate presentation by Casio for it's Exilim cameras.
20 minutes of choreographed dancing, live music (brass instruments while the dancers were shaking and twirling - a multi-talented bunch I say), costume changes including 3 transformations from 1 outfit, lots of product pimping with hand gestures, and one exremely competent, extremely articulate product spokemodel wearing a white prom/bride getup complete with tiara and the most natural, dazzling smile the entire time. This is Vegas after all, and it was just like the Solid Gold Dancers meet the Price is RIght's Barker's Beauties. Imagine Janice and Diane doing what they did on the Price is Right while dancing complicated choreographed numbers and tooting on trumpets and trombones - that's entertainment.
Oh yeah, and the Exilim? A pretty cool camera. This 6 megapixel camera is remarkably thin, has MPEG-4 movie taking capabilities and has a bright 2.2 inch LCD screen for better viewing outdoors. The shutter is quick with minimal delay and features the Anti Shake Digital Signal Processor, which reduces blurring caused by shaking hands or moving subjects. It retails around $399. But seriously? Had it not been for the entertaining show, I would have probably breezed by this camera and never taken notice. Nice job, Casio.
CES is huge. And you end up walking endlessly amidst a vast deluge of products, so it's actually kind of nice when a product comes to you, which is what happened to us as we were standing in line for some water (3 bottles of water + a bag of chips = 10 bucks here, by the way). A man whips out the MoGo Mouse, opens a G4 laptop and does a short sweet demo for us. I was quickly impressed.
The Mogo Mouse is a business card-sized, portable, bluetooth mouse that stores and charges inside the PC slot in your laptop (very cool). Despite its size, it's a full-sized mouse that automatically levers the mouse up into your hand as you work. It makes travelling with your laptop so much easier. I've got the Apple wireless mouse and it's a pain in the ass. The batteries need replacing more often than I would like and it's surprisingly heavy and bulky. I loved that the MoGo Mouse man used the mouse right on the laptop which is what I try to do with the Apple mouse. After all, if I'm bringing my computer everywhere, I don't really want to bring a bulky mouse and mousepad with me.
There are so many cases for mobile music devices and cell phones out there and I usually breeze by them, but these caught my eye. With bright, appealing colors, nice fabrics and clean, graphic, Scandinavian designs, Golla of Finland makes cases and bags that are worth checking out. I'm particularly taken by the knit mobile cap below.
OK, if they were trying to get our attention by having us do a double take on the name and the product, then it worked. The Googol keyboard by DS International, not only "borrows" the same pronunciation and almost every letter from the Google name, it uses the same colors to map out their oversized keyboard! The funniest thing was that the Google booth was right across the way.
After grueling individual odysseys to Las Vegas, Hoyun, Jenna, and I are here for CES, the annual chaotic circus of consumer technology. As usual, we'll be taking a somewhat different approach to our reports- more like a cultural study than minute-by-minute accounts of gadget announcements, though we'll be bringing those too. The exhibition hall opens today, but the event was kicked off last night, as has become tradition, with a keynote by Bill Gates. This year, without Conan O'Brien (not to be mistaken for Corn O'Brien which is in plentiful supply at the Sahara Buffet), the entertainment factor was provided by a subdued cameo appearance by Justin Timberlake and a cracked-out frenetic one by Steve Ballmer.
Highlights from the keynote:
- Bill Gates is thrilled to be Time Magazine's Person of the Year, alongside his wife, Melinda Gates, and BFF Bono (in the Time article, Gates and Bono gush about the fun they have when they have sleepovers. Seriously.) Gates humbly added that "Mother Nature" may have won out if there had been one more natural disaster.
-The next generation of Windows, Vista, will look extremely familiar to anyone who uses a Mac. There will be transparent windows for viewing multiple open applications at the same time. "Flip 3D" lets you scroll through all your applications with a much more visual approach.
-Vista will have a Sidebar that is pretty much identical to the Sidebar that's a part of Google Desktop. There will be tab browsing in Internet Explorer, very much like Firefox. Better image previewing, with image editing built-in to the OS. The slideshows will support video.
-Windows Media Player will be like....iTunes! Better playlist functions, support for album art. URGE, a joint venture with MTV, will be MS's challenge to the iTunes store- 2 million songs, available for individual download or all-you-can-eat through a monthly subscription. Lots of customization features, like the making of "auto-mixes" based on your song choices. At this point, Justin Timberlake came out to plug URGE, and when he walked off the stage to the sounds of his new single, Bill Gates walked back on, doing a little dance. Weird.
-The new Treo 700w, with MS's OS instead of Palm's, is available today on Verizon. This is ahead of schedule. The hardware looks a bit sleeker but very familiar, but the big difference is the support for high-speed EVDO connections.