Las Vegas was ground zero for gewgaws last week. From the useful to the entertaining to the ridiculously expensive, sumptuous leather home-theater...
Las Vegas was ground zero for gewgaws last week. From the useful to the entertaining to the ridiculously expensive, sumptuous leather home-theater recliner, the International Consumer Electronics Show had it all.
Combined, we probably walked nearly a marathon amid the crowded, ADD-inducing aisles and booths of the show. Here’s some of the stuff that caught our attention:
XEL1 OLED television
Who makes it: Sony
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What it does: The next thing in televisions will be ultrathin displays, but it will take awhile before they are big and cheap. This model, the first OLED television on sale in the U.S., has an 11-inch diagonal screen that’s only about 3 millimeters thick. Its organic light emitting diode (OLED) display also has a 1-million-to-one contrast ratio and uses less electricity than an LCD display.
Cost/availability: $2,500, available now at Sony stores.
Comment: For early adopters.
SRI-J 133 full-motion home-theater chair
Who makes it: D-Box Technologies
What it does: Motion code is embedded into movies that signals a three-axis motor in this plush leather chair. When the action on the screen moves, so does your chair. Think Captain EO, or something.
Cost/availability: $10,000, sold through custom home-theater builders.
Comment: D-Box’s CEO said that after viewing a full movie in one of these chairs you won’t be able to watch from a standard chair again. After a short demo of the chair, you have to believe him. And that would be a bummer. Good thing it’s way out of most price ranges.
Sierra Edition Media Server
Who makes it: Niveus Media
What it does: This high-end Windows Vista Media Center PC is designed to look like a sleek home-entertainment component. It uses a compact, energy-efficient Intel chipset designed for laptops that run cooler and quieter.
Cost/availability: Undisclosed, available this quarter through custom home-theater builders.
Comment: Packs all the audiovisual goodies from your PC onto the big screen in style. Lots of storage and wireless connectivity make this a home hub for storing songs, videos and photos.
Who makes it: Manufactured in Italy and distributed by Kyodo America.
What it does: Mows your lawn. By itself. A wire installed around the perimeter of the lawn guides the mower. It runs on lithium ion batteries and has a rain sensor that tells it to stop mowing in wet conditions.
Cost/availability: $2,499, find dealers at www.lawnbott.com
Comment: The mind boggles at the free time this device could offer — after you’ve installed the wiring, kept the blades sharp, hung the hammock and opened the beer.
R2D2 digital audio and video projector
Who makes it: Nikko America
What it does: Just like the character in “Star Wars,” this one does a lot: It has a built-in DVD player and projects movies onto a wall or ceiling. It has an iPod docking station, a 20-watt stereo system, FM radio and plays R2D2 sound effects. It also moves forward and backward, reclines and does 360-degree turns. With a button on the Millennium Falcon remote control, you can make its head rotate.
Cost/availability: $2,700. There’s also one that works as a Webcam and not a projector for $380. Available later this year.
Comment: It’s fun but felt a little plastic-y for $2,700.
Digital Underwater Camera Mask
Who makes it: Liquid Image, based in Sacramento, Calif.
What it does: A camera built into the mask records still photos or video onto micro SD flash-memory cards or the 16 megabytes of internal memory. After you surface, you can transfer files to a computer with a USB cable.
Cost/availability: $79.99 for 3-megapixel version, $99 for 5-megapixel; on sale this spring through national chain stores.
Comment: This looks fun, but it may not have enough light to take photos in this area.
“Halo 3” replica weapons
Who makes it: Distributed by Jasman Toys
What it does: Remember laser tag? Now you can play using realistic weapons from the universe of “Halo 3.” The Covenant Plasma Pistol and Rifle are faithful replicas with features such as recoil — Jasman licensed the intellectual property from Microsoft. They come with wearable targets.
Cost/availability: The pistol is $80. The rifle is $120. Hot Topic and online retailers.
Comment: “In the toy industry, historically, video-game properties are death,” said Jasman CFO Erik Davidson. The cost of licensing intellectual property typically isn’t recouped. ” ‘Halo 3’ jumped out of the video-game enthusiast world and became more of a cult following like nothing else.”
Spykee the Spy robot
Who makes it: Erector and Meccano
What it does: Build a Wi-Fi-controlled robot, controlled by your PC from anywhere in the world using an Internet connection. It plays MP3s, makes VoIP calls and can act as a surveillance system with a camera and motion detector.
Cost/availability: $299, summer
Comment: The Erector set has come a long way. Spykee is assembled using more than 200 parts.
Who makes it: Vectrix, based in Middletown, R.I.
What it does: Among the electric vehicles displayed at the show was this electric three-wheeled scooter. It has a range of 65 to 70 miles on a single charge, when driving 40 mph. Features tilt-control technology that holds it upright when driving slower than 3 mph.
Cost/availability: Will sell for $11,000 to $15,000 when it goes on sale in 12 to 18 months.
Comment: If you’re brave enough, this thing can go 62 mph but that cuts its range to 40 miles.
The Film Speaker
Who makes it: Fils Co. of Seong Nam City, Gyeonggi Do, South Korea
What it does: A flexible plastic film that functions as an audio speaker. Fils sells the component, which can be used to make transparent, wafer-thin speakers, such as a lamp shade that doubles as a speaker. Technically, it’s a piezo film made by adding an electrode to the surface of polyvinylidene fluoride film.
Cost/availability: Available now, price undisclosed.
Comment: Maybe we should print the newspaper on this stuff and read you the stories.