I’m far from a gadget freak, but I still find a lot of inspiration in all the consumer tech that debuts at the Consumer Electronics Show each year. Unfortunately, I find it too hard to make sense of the sensations, and to tell the difference between all the tech-industry publicist hype and the real innovations.
Ever the source for the modern practicum, Popular Mechanics has a great slideshow roundup of their favorite gadgets from this year’s CES. The slideshow is pretty horribly marred by commercial interruptions ever few slides, including a few that sat there blank (proving that advancements in technology are no guarantee against minor disasters). But it’s still good tech-obsessed fun.
My absolute damn favorite gadget is the SPOT Connect, which will be available this month:
The SPOT Connect is a waterproof satellite communicator that smartphones can use to stay in touch with the world, far away from a cell signal (a special app allows smartphones to use Bluetooth to latch onto the device’s satellite connection).
…the short version is that it brings the cost of making your smartphone a satellite phone down to $170. A competing device, the Delorme Earthmate, was an award-winner last year, but costs almost $600. What could be better to have on hand for when you wake up in the jungles of Panama missing your pants and trying to sort out just who blew the heads off all these zombies? Just dial up the bartender at Zeitgeist and repeat that sad refrain, “Was I drinking tequila again last night?”
Anyway, there’s more to CES excitement than satellite phones and apocalyptic slaughter: I love the idea of the “dog recognition mode” on the Fujifilm FinePix HS20EXR, which allows you to capture your rover with greater ease — important to any photographer who’s ever tried to shoot their dog and ended up with a squirrel-chasing blur. Cat owners will no doubt cry foul, but I’m sure it works for Mister Fluffypants as well.
Other interesting gadgets in PM’s roundup include the Samsung 9 Series Laptop (slimmer than a Macbook Air!), the Seagate GoFlex — a dedicated satellite drive for the iPad — and the Liquid Image Video Mask, designed for recording your motocross and skiing exploits. There’s also the Cobra Phone Tag, which gives you an alert on your smartphone every time you lose your keys, and the Samsung RMC 30D Internet-Enabled Remote Control will “stream a live feed of whatever is on TV directly to the remote’s tiny touchscreen.