CES 2010

Why iOS and Mac OS X Won’t Ever Merge, But Can Still Learn From Each Other [Opinion]

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It is a popularly held belief that one day Mac OS X and iOS are destined to merge into one OS to rule them all. When Apple announced last October that Lion, the next major update of Mac OS X would feature some of the best ideas from iOS, it only added to the convergence speculation.

But are Apple’s two operating systems really destined to converge? After all, they both seem to be doing very well by themselves. The Mac may benefit from some iOS features, but it’s hardly struggling on its own. Mac sales are stronger than ever. So what exactly would the advantages be?

High-End MacBook Leather Sleeve Fits Like Glove at CES

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At CES, Toffee cofounder Natasha Sullivan (left) and Tegan Ledford show off one of the company's popular leather briefcases. The lightweight briefcase has a pair of retractable handles and elastic straps inside to hold the MacBook in place.

LAS VEGAS — I’ve never paid much attention to laptop sleeves, but as they get fancier and fancier, they are becoming perhaps the most popular MacBook accessory out there.

At least, that’s according to one high-end sleeve and case maker from Australia.

At CES, Underwater Headphones Good For Swimming Laps

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LAS VEGAS – Pineapple Electronics’ Rumble KW Headphones have an unusual design, which makes them 100 percent waterproof. Unlike most other earbuds, the Rumble KW Headphones are good for swimming laps, snorkeling, or just taking a shower.

The in-ear style buds create sound not through sound waves, like traditional headphones and earbuds, but through bone conduction. The Rumble KWs vibrate bones in the listener’s skull, creating sound in the inner-ear.

“See, it has no holes whatsoever,” said Pineapple’s Philip Kye, as the Rumble Headphones played in a glass of water.

On the show floor of CES, the KW’s sibling headphones — Pineapple’s Rumble K Headphones, which aren’t waterproof — sounded pretty good, if a little muddy. The bass is outstanding, and they create a freaky buzzing and thumping in your ear.”The technology is tuned for lower frequencies, more bass,” Kye said.

The KWs are limited to 100 decibels, so can’t damage the listener’s hearing. They seemed well-suited for gaming — or listening to music while cleaning the hull of a boat.

Pineapple Electronics’ website.

Upstart Augen Hits The Dock Market Running With Some Innovative, Slick Gadgets — Including One That Turns Any Surface Into A Speaker

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Speakerball, anyone? The G-Note 14's wireless speakers.

LAS VEGAS — I’d never heard of Florida-based Augen before running into the tiny, gadget-strewn booth at this year’s CES.

That’s because, says VP of Product Dev Daniel Gofman, they’ve been working to produce tech for other companies the last few years; 2010’s CES marks the first year they’re striking out on their own into the already over-saturated iPod/iPhone dock market. But Augen has a trick or three up their sleeves worth looking at.

Of All the Cases At CES, Ivyskin’s SmartCase Stood Out

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Ivyskin's Federa Hedayatnia with the SmartCase. The iPhone case has a removable backplate that can be swapped for a rechargeable battery or a card carrier.

Of all the cases at CES, Ivyskin’s SmartCase looked to be one of the best. Made from tough polycarbonate in a range of colors, the SmartCase is a nice-looking iPhone/iPod case with a removable back plate that can be swapped out for an interchangeable battery pack (hit the jump for more photos of Ivskin’s Federa Hedayatnia showing how it works).

Computing Legend Alan Kay Explains CES Comments (In Detail)

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Computing legend and former Apple Fellow Alan Kay has kindly written a detailed note explaining a comment he made at CES, facetiously reported here. Looking for a newsy nugget from Kay’s complex talk, I was trying to make a joke about something profound being revealed at the CES gadget orgy. (“We all thought it was pretty funny too,” said Kay in a separate email).

Kay’s note explains a comment he made about the logical expression NOT BOTH underlying all human thinking.

“What I said was that all human symbol/logical REPRESENTATION systems and all computers past present and future can be made from NOT BOTH,” Kay says.

Kay’s full, fascinating email after the jump.

CES: Blue Microphones Overhauls The Diminutive Mikey, Adds Blue Fire App

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LAS VEGAS — The audio fanatics over at Blue Microphones have popped out the second-gen Mikey, a major overhaul to their plug-n-play iPod microphone.

The original Mikey was a plug-n-play, $80 microphone with on-board software that turned any iPod into a recording device. But it had several drawbacks: It didn’t play well with the iPhone unless you switched on airplane mode and it was only adjustable in one direction (it didn’t swivel). The second-gen Mikey is now $100, swivels, has a USB pass-through and works seamlessly with the iPhone; and like the original, it’s equipped with a three-way sensitivity switch. It’s also even lighter than its predecessor.

As a bonus, Blue Microphones has introduced Blue Fire, a free, feature-rich recording app available from the App Store that can be paired with Mikey to maximize performance.

CES: Free Broadcast TV, Coming Soon To An iPhone Near You

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LAS VEGAS — Finally, someone is going to turn iPhones everywhere into tiny, portable TV receivers. I found this little guy tucked away in a corner at a booth manned by Cydle, a young South Korean company better known for their car gadgetry. It’s a receiver/tuner that plugs neatly into an iPhone and pulls in digital ATSC broadcasts.

Why not sooner? A few months back, in October to be exact, the way was finally cleared (according to Macworld) for mobile devices to receive broadcasts from the new digital ATSC standard. South Korea is one of only two countries — the other being Taiwan — outside North America using the ATSC system.

I wasn’t able to use the system, but Cydle says it’s ready to go and will be priced at $150 — just don’t break out the mini-kegs quite yet in anticipation of watching the Saints claim their first Superbowl victory (yes, I just stamped my prediction here in this post) on the iPhone’s glorious 3.5-inch screen — the little tuner won’t ship until March.

CES: Zoom’s Q3 Serves Up Meaty Sound With A Side Of Video

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LAS VEGAS — Most video camera makers concentrate on the video, then poke one (or if you’re really lucky, two) tiny pinholes in it to record sound through. Yeah, like that’s enough.

So Zoom’s approach is to take a honking great, smurf-colored stereo microphone and stick a vidcam, screen and controls on it.

While sound from the mic seemed pretty darn impressive, the $250 Q3’s video capability is bare-bones, recording in 640×480 at 30 fps (but in a Mac-friendly Quicktime format) with only a 2x digital zoom.

But that’s the idea — to put sound first. The guys at the Zoom booth said the idea behind the Q3 was to give sound recordings a little video accompaniment, like say as a way to record what guitar chords sound like for a music student, along with accompanying video of technique.

CES: Sony Debuts The World’s First Digital Noise-Cancelling Earbuds

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LAS VEGAS — More on the noise-cancelling front: Sony has taken the trick tech of their award-winning, $400, MDR-NC500D digital noise-cancelling headphones and dropped them into these tiny new buds.

Like its big brother, the MDR-NC300D uses artificial intelligence to sense then adapt to the type of background noise occurring in the user’s environment; Sony claims an impressive 98.7 98.4 percent noise-reduction. Tne control unit also has a switch that adjusts the sound to one of three settings (anyone remember the bright yellow Sony MEGABASS swicthes?): Movie, Bass, or Normal.

While my rather limited experiences with the NC300D’s bigger brother never fails to amaze me whenever I try them on, the jury’s still on the little guys. The noise-cancelling feature didn’t seem as impressive; plus, you have to deal with the unit’s control dongle — which is bigger than some mp3 players out there.

CES: Audio-Technica Stuffs Its Excellent QuietPoint Noise-Cancelling Tech Into Budget-ish Cans

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LAS VEGAS — Back in September, we reviewed Audio-Technica‘s outstanding ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint noise-cancelling headphones; had we been doling out ratings at that time (we weren’t, because — at the time — we lamely thought ratings were lame), the ANC7bs would have donned a majestic 4.5 turtlenecks.

Seems Audio-Technica thought it could do better.

CES: Altec Lansing’s Down-Firing Speakers, Tiny Dock and Frugal-Minded Earbuds

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Gadget producers seem to have gotten the message that more bang-for-buck is what sells products in the current economic climate. In keeping with this philosophy, Altec Lansing are showing off three new/refreshed budget-minded offerings at CES.

Left: Altec Lansing says its InMotion Compact is the most compact yet in its line of portable docks. The slim little system was designed with some impressive traits: it’s GSM shielded (so no annoying iPhone buzz), runs on AC or four AA batteries and is faux-leather wrapped. Available for $80, Feb.

Center: The Octane Plus 2.1, a three-piece speaker set with a 6.5-inch subwoofer and 3-inch down-firing mid-range speakers. It’s also much prettier than the VS4121 speaker system it replaces. The set runs $80 and will be available this Spring.

Right: Portable sound from Altec Lansing for a Jackson? Yup. Altec Lansing will offer three versions of their neatly designed, $20 MUZX earbuds, including one with pivoting earpieces. Available March.

CES: Hands-On With Samsung’s Nifty NX10 Compact DSLR

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LAS VEGAS — Camera snobs are up in arms about Samsung’s brand new NX10 compact DSLR, which is built on a proprietary lens format, making it incompatible with thousands of lenses out there.

But the NX10 isn’t aimed at lens junkies. It’s meant for soccer moms looking to step up from point-and-shoots, who could give two-hoots that the NX10 is incompatible with other cameras’ lenses.

A quick hands-on at CES gives the impression that Samsung hit the sweet spot. Wifey and I have 30,000 digital pictures of the kids, most of them terrible because they were taken with point-and-shoots. The NX10 is the kind of camera we might like: easy to use, easy to carry around and capable of taking damn fine pictures.

Playing around with it, I can say the NX10 is a well-built, fast and responsive camera that promises the quality pictures of a DSLR without the bulk or complexity.

CES: Companies Must Have An iPhone App or They “Don’t Exist”

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A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps.
A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps. Newsgator's Walker Fenton is second from left.

LAS VEGAS — Businesses must have a mobile app. That was the message from a CES panel discussion of iPhone apps and their impact on culture, technology, advertising and entertainment.

At the session — iPhone Apps-Change Agents-App Breakthroughs, Video, Games, Mobile Engagement and Advertising — panelists urged companies to get working on mobile apps. Not just for the iPhone, but Android and Palm as well.

“It’s like 10 years ago when the debate was: ‘do I have to get a website or not?’” said Walker Fenton, GM of NewsGator’s Media & Consumer Products. “People were unsure, but these days, the answer is obvious: if you’re not on the Web, it’s like you don’t exist.”

Fenton added that companies must be on the iPhone.

“It’s almost a requirement,” he said. “You’ve got to be on the iPhone; same as you’ve got to be on the Web.”

He concluded: “If you are wondering about whether or not to get on the mobile, the answer is ‘yes’.’ Get on the mobile now.”

CES: Good Idea of the Day — Sharing iPhone Apps via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth

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A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps.
A panel at CES on the future of iPhone apps.

Here’s a good idea for virally marketing apps that Apple should think about — wirelessly beaming apps to other iPhones like the Zune’s music sharing feature.

Microsoft’s Zune is mostly a me-too product, but it’s one great feature is being able to lend music to friends Zune-to-Zune via Wi-Fi. Shared tracks can be played three times, after which they must be purchased from the Zune marketplace. It’s a great idea but tragically underused because there are so few Zunes out there.

CES: Cignus Unveils NAO Symphony To Stream Tunes, Control iPods

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Canada’s Cignius Thursday unveiled a free iPhone app to control its NAO Symphony and NAO Symphony Noir Music Stations. The products let you wirelessly stream music from your iPod, controlled by your iPhone or iPod touch.

“We all know the iPhone and iPod touch are some of the most elegant music players on the planet, but getting that music to play on home speakers can be cumbersome,” Cignias CEO Shawn Saleem said.

Meet the First iPhone-Controlled Augmented Reality Helicopter

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httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2aDE5GcriHc

Even though Apple isn’t part of this year’s CES, the floor has been buzzing with news of new hardware accessories for Apple’s multitouch devices. One of the most interesting of these is the AR.Drone, a quadricopter that you can control via iPhone or iPod touch.

As you can see from the video, the four rotors that give it lift are selectively turned on and off as you move your iPhone, and via the chopper’s forward-facing camera, the game positions killer robots for you to fire rockets at through the touchscreen. There’s even multiplayer for AR dogfights. No word on pricing yet, but looks like a heck of a lot of fun to fly if you’re on the floor.

Parrot — AR.Drone

CES: Eye-Fi Pro X2 Self-Cleaning Memory Card

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If you take a lot of photos, you know it’s all about storage and organization.

Enter Eye-Fi’s Pro X2 8GB Wi-Fi memory card with Endless Memory Mode.

The software recognizes the pics and videos that have already been uploaded and wipes them from the card faster than you forgot which co-worker you slurred sweet nothings to at the company Christmas party. (The self-cleaning card may also help curb bad habits, if, like me, you tend to leave stuff on the camera out of  laziness or fear and loathing of iPhoto).

What else has it got? Class 6 read and write speeds for a minimum transfer speed of 6 MBs and Wi-Fi with built-in 802.11n,  plus a bunch of features for sharing your pics: geotagging, free HotSpot access for a year, uploading to Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, MobileMe and YouTube (and it’ll also alert you via text message when your photos are uploading).

Price: $150.

I grabbed the Eye-Fi 4GB for my mom after realizing her new point-and-shoot came sans memory card — for $80, it’s been a great buy.

Via Wired

CES: iHome Updates Its Line With Three Rechargeable Portables

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iHome may have challenged the likes of Bose and Bowers & Wilkins with their iP1, but they haven’t neglected their position as the big boys of the portable-dock space, as evidenced by this trio of updates to their line (no word on pricing yet):

Upper Left: Zipped up, the fabric-covered iP48 alarm dock looks like one of those over-stuffed CD (yeah — remember those?) wallets we used to carry around. Cool feature: the time adjusts automatically just by docking with an iPhone.

Upper Right: An update to the iHM77, iHome says the assegai-like  iHM79 speaker set yields improved battery-life and sound. Like their ancestors, the speakers have magnetized bums to keep them together in transit.

Lower Left: The iP1’s Digital Power Station technology trickles down into the high-end, feature-packed iP49 clock-dock. Sound enhancements also include an EQ and neodymium compression drivers (which must mean something to the audiophiles out there). Comes with a remote to control all that tech.

CES: T12 iPod Speaker Sounds So Good, Company Refuses To Demo It

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Orbitsound's T12 Stereo Soundbar sounds so good, the company refuses to demo it on the show floor. "It just won't do it justice," said a spokesman.

LAS VEGAS — Orbitsound claims its T12 Soundbar sounds so good, they refused to demo it on the show floor.

“It just won’t do it justice,” said Ted Fletcher, founder of Orbitsound, which is based in London.

“It’ll revolutionize the way you listen to music,” he added.

CES: Award-Winning iPod Dock Reduces “Desktop Spaghetti”

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Dexim spokesman Patrick Tarpey shows off the MHub docking station.
Dexim spokesman Patrick Tarpey shows off the MHub docking station.

LAS VEGAS — Dexim, a young Chinese company that is starting to win design awards, is at CES showing off an iPod/iPhone docking station.

The MHub Docking Station isn’t the most exciting product here, but looks well-made and well-designed, and promises to reduce a considerable amount of desktop clutter. It includes a iPhone/iPod dock, SD card reader and a three USB connections.

“It really reduces your desktop spaghetti,” said Patrick Tarpey, a spokesman for Dexim.

Priced at $80, the MHub won an International CES Innovations 2010 Design and Engineering Award, and competes with Griffin’s iSimplifi.

CES: iPod Pico Projector Uses Lasers to Project Video Up To 100-Inches

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Wired.com reporter Brian Chen demonstrates Microvision's SHOWWX Laser Pico Projector for the TV cameras at CES. The projector is coming to the U.S. in March for about $500. Photo by Dylan Tweney.

LAS VEGAS — Lasers make a big difference for pico projectors, says Microvision, which, coincidentally, is showing off the first laser pico projector made for iPod at CES.

Although pico projectrors are a crowded field, Microvision’s SHOWWX Laser Pico Projector is the first powered by laser, which gives it better color and infinite focus, the company says. Most other pico projectors are powered by LED.