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CES is awesome, but it’s distinctly not Macworld Expo. I mean, you can see everything from TVs to washing machines to flashlights. So I’ve spent the lion’s share of my time at the show at the iLounge, which is essentially the Macworld Expo within CES. While you can read about our very favorite gear at CES this year by checking out our FTW award winners, we confined the awards to five categories, and there’s a TON more stuff worth mentioning. So without further ado, here’s a look at the other compelling Mac and iOS products we dug up at CES…
By far, the majority of Apple-related gear at CES was for iPhones and iPads, so it was a treat to come across Mobee’s nifty induction charger for the Magic Mouse. You place their custom battery pack inside your Magic Mouse, rest it on the included charging pad, and it charges wirelessly when you’re not using it. And it looks rad!
Optoma had an intriguing twist on the iPod dock--its Neo-i has a built-in pico projector that lets you watch iPod (or iPhone) video content on any handy surface. At 50 lumens, it was reasonably bright, and the picture was respectable, though you’ll hardly replace your plasma with it. Still, if you want to take your video on the road, it’s a pretty cool option.
For pure silly power, you gotta love the Sphero, which is a robotic ball controlled on your iPhone via a custom app. Don’t ask why, just do it and chuckle.
A company so new they don’t even have a website up yet (but they’re called RFA) impressed us with a line of backpacks with built-in batteries for charging iDevices and other gear. Called Powerbags, they’re clearly designed with tech in mind--soft pockets for iPads and netbooks, the right cords woven into to the bags in the right places, and plenty of practical pockets and pouches for all the gear we carry.
Yep, really. From Sanho, the folks behind those nifty MacBook batteries who got sued by Apple for using MagSafes, the HyperDrive adds external storage to your iPad via the Camera Connection Kit. It’s perfect for photographers in particular as it has card slots for downloading pics and a screen that lets you see thumbnails as you upload them to your iPad. If you’re the kind of photo bug who has more videos and pix than will ever fit on your iPad, this thing will quickly become invaluable. It’s also handy for those times when your Mac just isn’t part of the equation and you have a lot of files to cope with.
Withings was definitely thinking outside the case/battery pack box that made up much of the iLounge by designing a trio of health-related products, all of which connect to iPhones: a blood-pressure cuff, a scale, and a baby monitor. All three have corresponding apps that run the devices, and the BP cuff attaches via a wire to your 30-pin, while the other two connect over WiFi.
Bluetooth handsets aren’t new, but we loved the clean, sleek, contemporary lines of the Moshi Moshi 03i. A recharging station lets you slot in your iPhone, and then it uses a Bluetooth connection to send your calls to the lovely handset for far more comfortable and practical use in the home or office.
Foldable, rollable, you name it--Bluetooth keyboards intended for your iDevice but also compatible with your Mac were all the rage at CES. Verbatim’s releasing a spiffy foldable one in late Feb, while Cervantes had an even sharper-looking one called the Jorno that’ll be distributed through Dr. Bott when it comes out in a couple month--we particularly appreciated its optional, clip-in stand. And Scosche's freeKey waterproof (who types in the rain…or the swimming pool?) and rolls up in a pretty neat-o way.
We thought we’d seen every possible iPhone and iPad case by now, but amidst the massive heaps and mounds and piles of cases that threatened to bury the LVCC this year, we found a couple worthy newcomers that deserve a shout-out. First up, Speck’s new CandyShell View has a nifty little retractable stand. It’s the same size as a regular case, but you can pull out a tab to turn it into a stand for FaceTime calls or watching movies or whatever. When you’re done, it zips back in like a vacuum-cleaner cord. Very cool.
TRTL BOT, a new company with a firm grip on its Caps Lock key, impressed us with its two new cases made from 100% recycled materials. Its Minimalist lets you store three ID or credit cards with your phone, while the Trtl Stand has a pull-out tab for standing up your phone in either portrait or landscape.
But our fave cases of the show were Mophie’s. Not because of looks--there was an infinite sea of pretty cool designs--but Mophie’s were both practical and well-designed. The new Juice Pack Pluscombines a bigger, 2-day battery with a rubber coating that gives everything a much grippier feel. And its new Pulse case is an iPod touch-only case designed for gaming that rumbles, using the bass of the game’s audio to give you the kind of rumble feedback that you’re only used to on your Xbox or PlayStation. It also extends out a bit, allowing you to grip your iPod in a more comfortable, Game Boy-like way that’ll really appeal to hardcore gamers.
There’s loads more that we’ll be covering in the weeks and months ahead, but that’s a good run-through of the most interesting and inventive products we saw at the show. Which ones do you like--or not? Let us know in the comments…