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Top 10 gadgets from CES 2011

Tuesday, 11 January 2011 | By Patrick Stafford

The Consumer Electronics Show is gadget heaven. Every year major manufacturers pull out some of the most powerful (and wacky), pieces of technology for attendees and have the chance to show off some of the most impressive and futuristic pieces of hardware ever seen; it's the biggest tech event of the year.


But with so much to review, there's no way anyone can find out everything for themselves. With that in mind, we have compiled a list of the top 10 gadgets to come out of this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

 

Motorola Xoom

 

If there's one tablet that has the ability to challenge the Apple iPad, it's the Motorola Xoom.

 

Featuring the long-awaited Honeycomb software, (the version of Android specifically designed for tablets), the Xoom combines a slick user interface with such powerful hardware that it has already taken out multiple "best of show" awards.

 

The Xoom is an impressive piece of tech. It features a 10.1-inch screen, a 1Ghz dual-core processor, 1280x800 resolution, WiFi, 4G connectivity, two cameras, 720p recording and 32GB of internal storage. Battery-wise, Motorola brags it can support 10 hours of video.

 

But it's the Android 3.0 Honeycomb software that has a lot of people interested. With users able to buy apps from the Android marketplace and take advantage of some slick user-interface designs, the Xoom appears to be quite beginner-friendly.

 

Google says the Honeycomb software will work so well because it's designed specifically for tablets, and so far, they appear to be right. Menus load quicker, graphics are richer and the entire experience is much more user-friendly.

 

Motorola says the Xoom will launch during the first quarter of the year, and few other details have been released. But in a market now saturated with newcomers, the company has clearly demonstrated that it has what it takes to stand apart.

 

Motorolla Xoom

 

Motorola Atrix 4G

 

The first of the 4G smartphones arrived this year, but the most interesting one was undoubtedly the Atrix. Motorola promises this phone is "the most powerful smartphone in the world", and despite the marketing hype, features some impressive hardware.

 

The gadget features an Nvidia Tegra 1Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM, 15GB of storage capacity and a four-finch qHD display. It even comes with a fingerprint recogniser.

 

It also features the 1,930mAh battery, which is well above the average 1,300 to 1,500mAh cell seen in a lot of smartphones.

 

But perhaps the best feature of the Atrix is the ability to connect it with a type of dock that looks exactly like a laptop, with a keyboard and a few connection ports. The phone then turns into a fairly low-scale laptop, but allows the users to perform a variety of functions just as if they were using a computer.

 

It can also be connected to a normal desktop with a special dock, enabling users to control the smartphone as if it were a normal computer.

 

The Atrix also comes with an HDMI port, which you can use to plug in to an HDTV or other type of displays.

 

The Atrix is definitely a powerful phone on its own, but the ability to sync up with a laptop dock makes it that much more powerful.

 

Motorolla Artix

 

Sony Headman

 

There are always a few gadgets that turn heads simply for being a bit "out there", and Sony has taken out that title this year with its new Headman unit.

 

The gadget itself looks like something out of a Star Trek film. Users hold up a type of thick visor to their eyes. Inside the gadget are two OLED screens that are projected onto a surface that gives the user the experience of actually sitting in a cinema.

 

The gadget also features a type of augmented surround sound, so users have the full experience of watching a film in their own private cinema.

 

It looks sleek too, with a white finish and flashing blue LEDs to highlight the rims.

 

Unfortunately, it's highly unlikely this product will ever see the light of day. Sony isn't giving up any pricing or release details, and the physical structure of the device – you have to hold it up to view films – makes it an unlikely candidate for release.

 

Nevertheless, the Headman remains one of the coolest uses of technology at this year's CES.

 

Sony Headman

 

Pioneer SmartCradle

 

There are a lot of iPhone cradles out and about but many are made by third-party manufacturers and often lack the build quality of a reputable company. The new Pioneer SmartCradle seems to be a quality entry into the line-up.

 

The gadget itself works the same as any other cradle – you connect it to the dashboard of your car. But Pioneer says the cradle boosts GPS signals, helping out with navigation apps and any other app that uses the GPS function.

 

The cradle also features an audio/video output jack and a built-in speaker and mic allowing easier hands free calls.

 

This cradle is pretty much the same as the TomTom cradle that was released in 2009, but coming from a major manufacturer it's sure to have some punch behind it. This costs $US129 and will be available in April.

 

Pioneer SmartCradle

 

LG OLED TV

 

There were plenty of televisions released by all the major players this year and many of them came built-in with fancy online features and streaming connectivity – but none are so impressive as the LG OLED model.

 

LG claims it's the world's thinnest television – and at 2.99mm it's certainly small enough. The panel supports 2D and 3D broadcasting and has a refresh rate of 600hz.

 

The model is 31 inches large, and the OLED screen makes every colour appear bright and bold. The thin border around the screen also ensures the viewer doesn't have their picture obscured.

 

As for pricing, LG has yet to confirm any details – but no doubt it won't come in cheap.

 

LG OLED TV

 

(Image courtesy of engadget.)


Samsung Sliding Series 7

 

If the Xoom tablet takes out the "most powerful" title for this year's CES, then the Samsung Sliding Series 7 tablet definitely wins the "most innovative" award.

 

This gadget works as a tablet, running Windows 7, but features a full-size QWERTY keyboard that slides out from beneath the screen, in order to act as a dedicated laptop computer.

 

The tablet is powered by an Oaktrail Atom processor, with a 10.1-inch screen and 1366x768 resolution. It also comes with 32GB or 64GB of storage on a solid state hard drive, features both USB and HDMI outputs and is reported to have a battery life of about eight hours.

 

The Sliding Series 7 will come with some apps and the Office 2010 Starter edition when it's released in the US in March.

 

Samsung Sliding Series 7

 

The Monsoon Vulkano Flow

 

Set-top boxes are gaining quite a bit of popularity as users opt to stream media from other devices and combine computers with televisions. The Monsoon Vulkano is another step in that direction, but works alongside boxes instead of acting as a dedicated device.

 

The Vulkana is essentially a smartphone accessory. It connects to a set-top box and then streams to any handheld gadget, including the iPhone. Users simply install an app, and then use the gadget to stream television to their device.

 

Another version, the Vulkano Blast, uses those features and then adds the PVR feature along with 160GB of internal storage. It can also access YouTube and record television to the storage, or another type of attached hard drive.

 

With the app only costing $US9.99, and the gadget just under $US100, this is a solid solution for streaming data over the web.

 

Monsoon Vulkano Flow

 

Casio Wireless Watch

 

All gadget-lovers need a good watch and this Casio model was one of the best to appear at this year's CES.

 

The Bluetooth Casio model doesn't actually do a whole lot, but it's definitely worth checking out. Users pair it to a smartphone and share data between the two devices, including the names of incoming callers, email addresses, and even alarm clock information – double tapping the face of the clock even mutes the ring tone.

 

You also receive alerts for text messages and information on the panel shows you how many missed calls or emails you have.

 

The watch can even help you search for a lost phone, although Casio says the two have to be within five metres of each other.

 

All-in-all, this is an impressive little piece of hardware that will hit shelves sometimes this year.

 

Casio Wireless Watch

 

Tiniest GoFlex USB 3.0

 

The USB 3.0 technology has been making the rounds this year at CES, and storage manufacturers have been using the framework in a variety of different gadgets – and the SeaGate GoFlex is one of the latest.

 

This 9mm thick portable hard drive is one of the smallest around, and is barely bigger than a user's palm. It's also fast – USB 3.0 allows for some of the fastest transfer speeds available on the market right now, although few computers actually have support for the tech so far.

 

The GoFlex will ship within the month at a price of $US99 for 320GB of data.

 

GoFlex - Tiny

 

Samsung SmartTouch Remote

 

Smart TVs have been one of the biggest trends at this year's CES, and Samsung have built a "smart remote" to go along with their model – the RMC30D.

 

This touch screen remote comes with the 8,000-series television sets, and is designed to control the complicated user interface on the company's new Smart TVs, which feature media streaming capabilities, internet browsing and a range of other options.

 

The gadget uses Wi-Fi and pairs with the TV, with the unit then able to control the TV from anywhere on the same network – which is important for the TV playback feature.

 

The gadget itself is actually a small television. If you need to leave the room for something, you can take the remote with you and then continue watching the show right there, or even choose another channel if you want.

 

It's also a streaming gadget, so you can watch movies stored on another PC or play music. The screen itself is about the size of the iPhone, so watching streaming media isn't going to be a problem.

 

Samsung Touch Remote

 

This article first appeared on SmartCompany.com.au

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