CES 2012 was about televisions, computers, tablets and phones, the technology within and between, but many of the awesome things we saw actually plug into those devices, or connect to them wirelessly. Here are the headphones, speakers, docks, mice, drives, routers, chargers and controllers that caught our eye this year.A special thanks to Borrow Lenses, who provided us with cameras and lenses for the week!
Seagate's Satellite 4G LTE-enabled hard drive is a mobile hotspot and more (hands-on)Read Article >
Seagate and Verizon Wireless are showcasing a new 4G LTE-enabled Seagate Satellite hard drive here at CES 2012. The prototype model on the show floor had a 500GB capacity, though we're told there should also be a 1TB model when it launches sometime this year. It's essentially a mobile hotspot / NAS hybrid, and has a personal file server inside for downloading movies, videos, and photos. In its prototype form it can stream media to three simultaneous Wi-Fi devices, but that may change as code is optimized before launch. The internal battery is said to last 4-5 hours, but there's a microUSB slot for charging. We're not sure how much it'll cost per month, but it's safe to assume that price plans probably won't be too far off from Verizon's current wireless modem offerings.
Jan 11, 2012
Nyko expands into licensed and non-gaming accessoriesRead Article >
We dropped by Nyko's CES booth today to see what the gaming accessory maker had to offer. First up was a range of accessories that should be hitting during the PlayStation Vita's "launch window" (the company couldn't be more specific) — a charging dock with speakers, a car charging kit, and a game card and memory card case. Nyko is also planning a battery-extending grip for the Vita, though this wasn't ready to be shown off today. Next, we saw a couple of Yo Gabba Gabba-branded products, which represent the company's first foray into the world of licensing. There was a DS/3DS charging stand and alarm clock featuring the character Muno, and a Brobee hip pack designed to carry a couple of DS-sized devices. Lastly, we saw Nyko venture entirely out of the gaming world, with some products for the Kindle Fire — a charging speaker stand along the lines of the Vita dock, and a battery pack case that relocates the Fire's power button to the front of the device.
Jan 11, 2012
Dyle Mobile TV on MetroPCS: over the air broadcast TV on Android and iOS (video)
One-seg TV tuning has been around for ages in Japan, but no one's been successful at bringing it Stateside. The folks at MetroPCS and Mobile Content Venture — a joint venture of 12 content providers including Fox and NBC— want to be the first with Dyle Mobile TV. Dyle relies on a two-part system to get broadcasts on your device — some kind of antenna, and a downloadable app for iOS or Android. Because there's no hardware required in-device, practically anything running iOS or Android phone is capable of receiving broadcasts, and because there's no need to be connected to the internet, you don't have to pay anything extra for all of the reruns you're watching on your way home from work.Read Article >
Dyle showed us a prototype Samsung phone with a retractable antenna at CES today, and while reception wasn't always reliable, the digital picture was bright and clear. The popularity of downloadable content has caused a lot of people to cut their cords, including many of us, but we can definitely see the appeal of having free sports and news broadcasts everywhere we go.
Blue microphones at CES 2012: Tiki, Mikey Digital and Spark Digital hands-onRead Article >
We just caught up with Blue at ShowStoppers and saw its lineup of recently announced microphones. First up is the Tiki, a portable USB microphone that has intelligent auto-muting, making Skype calls and podcasts even more crisp and clear. Though it was a non-working prototype, the Tiki's build quality was terrific — you'll probably feel comfortable tossing it right into your bag without it suffering any damage. The Mikey and Spark mics look similar to their previous-gen analog brethren, but the Spark Digital rests on a shock-absorbent stand, similar to other high-end microphones. Check out the gallery below for some closeups of Blue's new lineup.
Jan 11, 2012
SteelSeries announces Ion iOS and Android gamepad, selection of headsets and miceRead Article >
SteelSeries just announced a handful of accessories here at CES 2012. The most interesting is the Ion, a Bluetooth gamepad for iOS, Android, and Windows devices. It looks just like any old controller, with two shoulder buttons total, four action buttons, two analog sticks, and a d-pad. SteelSeries hasn't announced any compatible titles yet, though the company says the Ion will arrive in Q3 for an undisclosed amount.
Sennheiser HD 25 Amperior and HD 700 headphones: premium sound, premium price (hands-on)Read Article >
The HD 700 is an even higher-end reference headphone that retails for an astronomical $1000. The model's headlining feature is its vented magnet system, which manages the airflow to prevent any unwanted resonance, or "turbulence." Sennheiser recommends that they be used with an amplifier since there's not enough impedence from most standard audio jacks to fully maximize their potential, though that severely limits their portability. Surprisingly, I preferred the sound quality of the Amperior to the 700 — it just sounded a bit too airy and lacked the same "oomph" as the cheaper model in my opinion.
JetStreamHD box and Live TV tuner hands-on
Though it's not new, Nuyyyo's JetStreamHD box seamlessly streams media to your iPad over WiFi or 3G in just about any format. Simply connect the box to your router and plug a media-filled hard drive into the box, and it'll push content found on the drive or home network directly to your iPad. It's that simple.Read Article >
Here at ShowStoppers, the company is showing off a new TV tuner dongle that plugs into the JetStreamHD box and streams live local TV channels in HD to your iPad over 3G or Wifi. Just insert a digital antenna or cable feed into the dongle and you're good to go .
Jan 10, 2012
j5 Create JUC600 Android mirroring cable demo videoRead Article >
I admit it, I'm a MicroUSB fanboy. It's not technologically sublime or anything, but the fact almost all smartphone and tablet makers have standardized around it makes all of our lives a lot of easier. j5Create is trying to cut out a slice of that market with its new JUC600 cable, which adds display mirroring to the usual USB 2.0 file transfer and charging capabilities of MicroUSB. It's compatible with Android devices of version 1.6 and above on the one side and Windows 7 on the other. All the drivers are aboard the JUC600 itself, so it's literally plug-and-play. The company is aiming to ship it for $29.99 at some point later in the year, although negotiations are also afoot for bundling this JUC600 cable — tentatively titled Android Mirror — into the retail boxes of new phones. It's not fancy, it's not spectacular, but it is relatively cheap and adds a little more functionality to the MicroUSB proposition.
Razer Naga Hex gaming mouse hands-onRead Article >
While it isn't quite as exciting as Project Fiona, the Razer Blade or even the touchscreen-equipped Star Wars: The Old Republic keyboard, Razer's latest mouse, the Naga Hex, looks and feels fantastic. True to its name, the $79.99 peripheral has a hexagon of six comfortably springy buttons right all easily accessible by your thumb, circling a comfortable, lightly squishy pad for your opposable digit to rest on, and has an extended grip on the right side with a soft-touch rubber coating. Five PTFE feet on the bottom propel it effortlessly across surfaces, and there's a 5600dpi laser sensor inside for what definitely felt like precise, accurate tracking. Otherwise, it's pretty basic, and we didn't subject the mouse to a mouse sensor torture test, but the overall feel is fantastic. See our pictures below, and find the Naga Hex for pre-order right now on Razer's website. A rep says they'll ship later this month.
Jan 10, 2012
Lumus high-definition transparent video glasses hands-on
Video glasses are nothing new, but transparent eyewear like the Lumus units here may be the key to integrating augmented reality into everyday life. The glasses project a surprisingly clear 720p image against whatever you happen to be staring at, while still preserving visibility behind it. When turned off, the lenses are almost indistinguishable from normal ones.Read Article >
The contrast isn't as high as on the Vuzix prototype, but the colors are much more natural. We wouldn't want to watch a movie on the system, but it seems perfect for an unobtrusive overlay to reality. There's also a somewhat brighter military eyepiece that's more comparable to the Vuzix device. Lumus isn't going to be selling the glasses you see here any time soon — these products are strictly demonstrations of technology to be used in other devices. It's a shame, because they're one of a very small number of video glasses that we wouldn't mind wearing at all.
Razer's touchscreen 'Star Wars: The Old Republic' keyboard hands-on (video)
When we first heard that Razer was building a line of Star Wars: The Old Republic-branded peripherals, we didn't know what to think, but it's becoming clear that the company's developed something special for particularly hardcore gamers. We got our hands-on the company's premiere $249.99 keyboard today and swiped our fingers across its LCD-equipped keys and multitouch auxiliary screen.Read Article >
Though the software's definitely not final and the LCD-keypresses were a little iffy with the prototype model, it does loads of awesome stuff. We set up a Half-Life 2 gravity gun grenade macro right on the touchscreen, performed pinch-to-zoom multitouch gestures on this very website, and watched a YouTube performance of Katy Perry's "Firework." It's also a touchpad, of course, and you can set up macros with actual graphical icons under those LCD keys as well, using the bundled software. No release date except "soon," but we'll have video for you later today!
Ion bolsters its musical training tools (hands-on)
Ion Audio has bought its musical gear out in force this year, bringing a host of new musical training and entertainment products to CES. The easy highlight is the Guitar Apprentice — an iPad based training tool with light up keys for each fret. It's a bit reminiscent of the Yamaha EZ-AG, with translucent light-up keys showing you the correct finger positioning as you play. However, in place of the strings sits your iPad, and since the axe is Core MIDI compatible you're able to use it with almost any iOS music creation app, including Garageband. Ion also promises that a proprietary teaching app for the device is on its way, giving you a chance to use it as a training tool as well as an interface. It's launching in August this year for $149.99.Read Article >
In a similar vein for the rhythmically inclined is the Drum Master. It looks similar to the Guitar Hero drums, though offers four pads, two cymbals and two pedals. All of these are pressure sensitive and light up as you play. Again, it's built for use with the iPad and is Core MIDI compatible for use with other apps. It's expected in September for $299.99. There's also a smaller version, the Drum Apprentice, which will be released around the same time for $149.99.
I'm Watch hands-on pictures and video
The watch is preloaded with a few basic apps, all of which have been customized. There's Music, Facebook, Twitter, Weather, Stocks, Gallery, News, Calendar, an Address book, and finally a calling app. You pair the watch via Bluetooth 2.1 to any smartphone in order for it to act either as a wrist-bound "speakerphone" (though the volume is quite low) or to tether it so it can gather data for all of its apps. That's a fine solution for some, but the idea of maintaining a tethered Bluetooth connection every time we want to update our watch makes us fear for the battery of both the watch and our phones.Read Article >
It runs $349 for the basic "I'm Watch Color" version here, though visitors to CES can snag a coupon for $50 off. There are also an "I'm Tech" and "I'm Jewel" versions, which are simply better-looking and more expensive versions of the same watch. The company says the watch is "in production phase" right now and should ship soon, but didn't have an exact release date yet.
Casio launches new models in its Slim line of digital projectorsRead Article >
Casio has brought six new models in its Slim range of thin DLP projectors to CES. The XJ-A141, XJ-A146, XJ-A241, XJ-A246, XJ-A251, and XJ-A256 are squeezed into cases just 1.7 inches thick, and offer a range of resolutions, brightnesses, and connectivity options. The higher-end -6 models offer MobiShow for collaborative presentations via Wi-Fi, USB mass storage support, and a built-in presentation timer. The biggest new feature here is Casio's new laser and LED Hybrid light source — all of these units are lamp-free, driven instead by a combination of a blue laser and flourescent element, and getting around those costly bulb changes. Casio gives an MSRP for the range of $999-$1499, but there's no mention of availability just yet.
Jan 10, 2012
Parrot Zik headphones use NFC, Bluetooth, accelerometer to control your music (hands-on)Read Article >
When we finally put down Parrot's AR.Drone 2.0, we got a chance to look at the company's first-ever set of headphones, the Zik Parrot by Stark. At first glance they're just super-comfortable, beautifully retro over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones: Once the headphones are connected to your phone (there's a mic inside, so you can use it to make calls too), all playback control is done by gestures — slide your finger up or down on the headphone to change the volume, or swipe forward to change tracks. If you take the headphones off your ears, an accelerometer notices and automatically pauses your music; put them back on, and it starts playing again. There's even NFC connectivity, so you can tap your phone to the headphones to connect (maybe don't try this in public, though — why you're whacking yourself on the head with your phone might take some explaining). The headphones are battery-charged, and last about five hours, but even if the battery dies the headphones still work if you plug them in — you just don't get any of the added features.
Jan 10, 2012
Mophie Juicepack Powerstation Pro: the external charger for campersRead Article >
Mophie's new Juicepack Powerstation Pro is a ruggedized, water- and dust-resistant, 6,000mAh external charger for your mobile devices. It has both standard and micro USB, so it'll accommodate a wide variety of phones and tablets, but it's not meant to power up your laptop. The sealed ports were definitely a nice touch, and the charger felt surprisingly light for the amount of juice it packs. Mophie tells us that the Powerstation Pro will be available in February or March for "around $150."
Jan 10, 2012
Mimomicro USB microSD card reader hands-onRead Article >
Mimoco, the makers of Mimobot USB flash drives, is showing off a new line of dongles here at CES 2012, the Mimomicro. These tiny keychain figures, unlike the Mimobots, are USB microSD card readers and will come in a range of familiar characters: Darth Vader, C-3PO, Yoda, Batman, Superman and others. You can check out a few more photos of the card readers below, and purchase these little guys for $12.95 each come March.
Sony Smart Watch (aka Sony Ericsson LiveView 2) hands-on
Last night we spotted what looked like the successor to Sony Ericsson's LiveView auxiliary display, and it's true: this is the Sony Ericsson Smart Watch. Well, it'll probably just be the Sony Smart Watch soon, given how the company recently swallowed its joint Sony Ericsson venture and has already begun rebranding. Note the lack of an "Ericsson" in that logo? Sony Ericsson reps tell us it can store 255 widgets, most of which will interact with your Android 2.1+ Sony smartphone (some work with Android phones, period, and others run all on their own) and that it will be on sale at an unspecified date for $149. That screen certainly is sharp. Take a gander at the device in our gallery and video below!Read Article >