The 2013 International CES was a lot like last year’s show: Manufacturers concentrated on updating existing technologies, adding more processing power and online connectivity wherever possible, instead of introducing brand new inventions. Still, there were a lot of eye-catching products for those who like to own the hottest gadgets, and have money to burn. Here are a few of the stand-outs. But remember: Consumer electronics makers are notorious for showing off products at CES that never make it to retail shelves, or take far longer to do so than companies envision:
Lenovo’s IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC: Want to liven up family game night? Lenovo’s marketing this Windows 8 device with a 27-inch, HD display as a multimode “table PC.” It lays horizontally so that multiple users can play knock hockey, Monopoly, or video games. It comes with e-dice and four joysticks. First models are expected to be available this quarter for about $1,600.
Harmon Kardon BDS-577: Here’s a Blu-ray disc player that’s also designed to serve as an all-in-one centerpiece for a home entertainment system that accommodates everything from the highest resolution TV sets to comparatively lowly MP3 files on a smartphone. It handles 3D videos. But it also boasts great sound with 5.1-channel digital high fidelity amplifiers, decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD surround-sound, AirPlay music streaming, wireless transmissions to home theater speakers. In addition it has Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and support for YouTube.
Samsung UN85S9 Ultra HD TV: You couldn’t turn at CES without running into an Ultra HD TV, which boasts four times the resolution of a conventional HD television set. And while they’re all beautiful (and incredibly expensive), this 85-inch model — due out in March — is the one that generated the most buzz. It includes a quad-core processor to handle chores including voice recognition for the company’s S-Recommendation platform. It also can upscale video to Ultra HD, which is useful since there’s virtually no Ultra HD content yet. There’s a 120 watt stereo system, a camera for gesture control and, with the mike, to handle Skype calls.
Apex HD+ Snow Goggle. This $400 item is the thing to wear if you really want to relive your ski or snowboard runs. It has an HD camera positioned right above the eyes with a 135 degree wide angle. It can capture 1080P images at at 30 frames per second, or 720P at 60 fps, and transmit still or video images via Wi Fi to iOS and Android devices. The mic has a wind guard, of course.
Samsung’s YOUM Flexible OLED Display: The Korean electronics company gleefully showed off the intriguing technology, although it’s still just a prototype. The thin plastic touch screen can be rolled up, or folded in half for a device that can double as a smartphone and open up into a tablet. Executives say this can be useful for lots of different applications. But I’ll reserve judgement until they also come up with flexible chips and batteries.
Pebble E-Paper Watches: What a great idea: This $150 watch establishes a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone. It vibrates when someone tries to reach you and its face will show who’s calling or sending a message. The e-Ink display is easily visible outdoors, and has a back light so you can see it in the dark. It can morph into a seemingly endless number of faces and designs. It also can be used to control your music, or as a bike computer. The company used the Kickstarter crowdfunding platform to raise the cash needed to develop the watch.