CES 2011

All CultofMac.com’s coverage from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the biggest gadget show on Earth.

Another Cool Rhomboid With Smart Features: Altec Lansing’s New Dock [CES 2011]

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Altec Lansing's InMotionAir streaming dock.

LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — If the brief look we stole of the Altec Lansing lineup is anything to go by, we’re going to  be even more thrilled with their hardware this year than we were last year (when their InMotion Compact garnered a 4.5/5 rating). They’ve kept the key ingredients of intriguing-yet-simple design and cool features, but we get the impression everything seems somehow to be more grownup.

A good example is the just-released InMotion Air: An elegant, steel-grey rhomboid that streams music at a distance of up to a whopping 100 yards with the included wireless adapter, or via Bluetooth (at considerably less range); it also comes with a seven-hour battery. The InMotion Air will be available in February for $200, through Radio Shack or online through Altec Lansing.

AL has some additional tricks up its sleeve, which they revealed to us during a closed-door tour of their lineup; we can’t tell you exactly what they’re up to, because we had to sign a non-disclosure agreement just to get inside. But it’s cool, and it’s coming soon.

Here’s a Slew of New Bluetooth Gadgets From ID8-Mobile [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — ID8-Mobile is following up on their  MoGo Talk iPhone case/Bluetooth headset — which just won a design award at CES this year — with a wide array of Bluetooth accessories: a MoGo Talk headset that charges inside a tiny, foldable battery case; a Bluetooth speakerphone that converts into a handset; a mini Bluetooth speaker; a Bluetooth remote-control device for presentations and whatnot and (pause to inhale) they’re bringing back their wafer-thin Bluetooth mouse (counterclockwise from bottom right in the photo above). Sitting beneath them is a pre-production Bluetooth keyboard for the iPad. Pricing and release dates on these new goodies not set yet.

We’re Amped About These New Charging Bags From Voltaic, Powerbag [CES 2011]

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Jeff Crystal, COO of Voltaic, with their new Spark Solar Tablet Case.

If a bag is on display at CES, chances are excellent it’s got some kind of snazzy tech feature. Newcomer Powerbag caught our eye with its line of four handsome bags that all include batteries for charging iDevices (or other peripherals); Voltaic —  we featured their OffGrid backpack in our Holiday Gift Guide — just launched an iPad case with high-efficiency solar cells slathered all over one side.

Rock Out With Griffin’s Awesome New App-Enhanced iPad Pedalboard [CES 2011]

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Jackie Ballinger of Griffin with their new StompBox guitar pedalboard. Those icons on the iPad's screen are all selectable sound modules.

LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Griffin has paraded off so much cool new stuff at this year’s CES, you’d be excused for thinking this site’s name is actually “cultofgriffin.com” — this time, it’s their StompBox pedalboard for iPad with swappable effect modules.

If you’ve been following our posts about making music on the iPad, you’ve probably already heard about iShred — who make the free app that pairs with StompBox, for which Griffin originally made the GuitarConnect cable that connects instruments with 1/4-inch jacks to the iPad (or any other iDevice) last year. StompBox is just the evolution of the idea, giving musicians better control over the sounds via the physical switches (rather than using the soft controls of the app).

The app comes with several modules that make different sounds, and more can be collected via in-app purchase for a few bucks apiece. Griffin says StomBox should be available by spring of 2011 at $99, which includes the $30 GuitarConnect cable for free. The pedalboard can also be paired with Griffin’s new $40 Mic Stand Mount for iPad, available in January.

Line2 Turns iPhone into an Actual Phone [CES 2011]

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What does it say about the current state of mobile telephony when one of the most exciting booths at CES belongs to a company that makes an app allowing iPhone users to make phone calls?

Line2 makes a tri-mode calling app that uses data, WiFi and even cellular voice connections to make and receive calls on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad. Start with the 30-day free trial, then the service will cost $10 per month for unlimited calling, unlimited texts and a powerful voicemail system.

In a WiFI area, Line2 uses that connection to make and receive calls and texts. In an area with data (3G or EDGE) available, Line2 uses the data connection for your calls. And it can even utilize your beleaguered cellular carrier’s cell network to make and receive calls when all else fails.

So, for $120 a month you can activate your iPhone with your preferred cell carrier and for just $10 more you can actually make and receive calls!

Isn’t the Future awesome?

Big Grins from Griffin’s New Crayola iPad Toy [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Griffin Technology‘s new Crayola ColorStudio HD ($30) evoked so many bubbly noises while it was being demo’ed you’d think CES had become a popular  3rd-grade field trip destination. And if the fun little gadgapp (yeah, I know, see below) can make a bunch of jaded tech journos grin, you know it’s going to be a huge hit with the kids.

The app works with what’s essentially a jumbo stylus that paints color on the screen in a selected color. Parts of the page are animated, and those animated pieces can be colored in without the color bleeding over the lines. Finished pages can be emailed, uploaded to Facebook or printed.

Oh, about the “gadgapp” thing: So, this year’s CES seems indeed to be the year of the app-enhanced accessory; problem is — as my lamentably lame attempt demonstrates — we can’t seem to come up with a not-dorky term to concisely encapsulate this rapidly emerging new category of gadget. But we think our readers are sharp bunch, and we’re certain one of you can come up with something better. We”ll be announcing some sort of competition with prizes next week, be on the lookout.

Android Tablets Abound At CES, But iPad Still Reigns Supreme [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Android tablets have a ways to go — that seems to be the emerging consensus here at CES.

I couldn’t help but notice all the floor chatter going on while people were playing with any one of the dozens of new Android tablets here on display at CES. As I listened, the crowd consensus became clear to me—not only are all the new Android tabs not as good as the iPad, they’re not even close.

Why? Well that’s what I started wondering. I wanted to hear unfiltered reviews on what potential users were thinking. So after hearing the 100th person murmur something like, “this doesn’t work nearly as good as the iPad,” I starting getting nosy and asking them why.

Mophie’s New iPhone Case Equipped With a Credit Card Reader [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Mophie’s newest case, launched yesterday, incorporates a credit-card reader and allows business owners to process physical credit card transactions through the iPhone. To interface with the case’s reader, Mophie recruited Intuit’s free GoPayment app, which is compatible with Inuit’s flagship QuickBooks small business accounting package.

Even considering Mophie’s reputation for cutting-edge iPhone cases, this one is pretty remarkable — and a challenge to products like Square’s credit card reader for iPhone. The case is available now, and sells for $180.

Samsung Unveils the ‘Lightest, Thinnest’ Smartphone on the Market [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — The very next time I hear the term “iPhone-killer,”  I will go absolutely Looney-Tunes nuts. I will tear up telephone books, gargle with raw eggs and Marmite, the whole bit. Seriously.

On the other hand, Samsung really does seem to be taking precise aim at the iPhone 4 with their new Infuse 4G Android smartphone announced yesterday. They’re claiming that, when (if) released, it’ll be the lightest, thinnest phone on the market, and it’ll be equipped with oodles of goodies: a 4.5-inch, “next-generation” Super AMOLED screen (which they say will have better readability in bright sunlight) and a snappy 1.2 ghz processor. And get this — it’ll sit exclusively in the AT&T stable.

Casio Unveils The Sexiest-Looking Camera We Think We’ve Ever Seen [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — The TRYX could have been designed by Jonny Ive’s evil twin brother: It’s charismatic and completely striking — but in a dark, angular way.  I really couldn’t believe my jaw was dropping over a camera’s looks when I first saw it up close, but that’s exactly what happened. The TRYX’s form factor also has one really cool trick up it’s sleeve: the rim of the case swivels around and turns the whole thing into a sort-of tripod. It’s very slick, and it feels and looks satisfyingly well-designed.

Casio has made sure to back up the good looks with substance, and absolutely stuffed the 12-megapixel point-n-shoot with equally stunning performance too: Ultra-wide angle 21mm lens; HDR; touch-screen controls; the ability to capture seamless, 360-degree panoramic images with a single sweep; some sort of high-speed zoom system (which we didn’t get to try out); even a self-timer that’s motion-activated; and arguably the most impressive function: the ability to capture slow-motion video at 240 frames per second.

It’s coming in April, and it’s yours for $250. Press release with full specs here.

Microsoft’s Steve Balmer Demos Cool iPad-Influenced PCs [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — One of the interesting things about the iPad is its influence on some new Windows PCs.

During Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer’s keynote, for example, a couple of interesting tablet/PC hybrids were shown off that showed the influence of Apple’s iPad, but weren’t shameless rip-offs of the device.

The coolest was a double screen PC from ASUS that featured a touch-sensitive screen where the keyboard should be.

Don’t Believe The Hype: iPad Killers Are DOA At CES [CES 2011]

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Panasonic's vaporware tablet at CES

UPDATE: Lenovo has taken issue with the timeline laid out in this post. Lenovo says its LePad Slate wil ship in China in Q1 and other Android slates will be available in the U.S. in 2011. The Windows Slate, pictured below, has not been officially announced, and may or may not ship. “There isn’t an expected date for this since it is a concept,” said a spokeswoman in email. In addition, the Notion Ink tablet just started shipping.

LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — I just walked out of a big Panasonic press conference where journalists swarmed all over the company’s just-announced tablet, but executives spent just three seconds discussing it.

That’s because Panasonic’s Android-powered Viera Tablet won’t be available till the end of the year.

End of the year? That’s 12 months away. By then, Apple will be selling the iPad 2, which is likely to be a blockbuster if it follows the same sales pattern as the second-gen iPhone.

Same story with Android tablets from Lenovo (end of the year), Asus (three Android tablets with first-half-of-the year ship dates), Notion Ink (no ship date), and Hewlett-Packard (as-yet-unnamed WebOS tablet promised mid year). In fact, Hewlett-Packard never shipped the tablet that made headlines at last year’s CES after Steve Balmer announced it at his keynote.

Pioneer Embraces The iPhone With A GPS Car Dock [CES 2011]

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photo: Erfon Elijah

LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Pioneer launched its SmartCradle for the iPhone at its CES presser today, further proving that the aftermarket auto industry seems to be embracing the iPhone with rapidly increasing gusto.

They really pulled out the stops on this one, hardware-wise: a dedicated GPS receiver with an external antenna, which they said will give even newer iPod Touch models GPS capability; an accelerometer and gyro sensor for better location awareness; hands-free calling an integrated amplified speaker with the ability to vary volume based on ambient noise; and audio/video output. Of course, it’ll also charge the iPhone; Ted Cardenas, Pioneer’s director of marketing, made of point of this — but since the iPhone won’t last long with location services going, any dock even remotely similar already includes charging ability. Nary a whiff on price or availability yet.

Hemp Used In Bob Marley Headphones, Earbuds [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Fittingly for a line of music accessories bearing the name of reggae legend Bob Marley, some of the product components are made from hemp.

The carrying pocket for the House of Marley earbuds, for example, are made from hemp fibre, a spokeswoman told me. Bob Marley famously used hemp for something else, of course.

The House of Marley launched a range of about a dozen music products here at CES, including a boombox, iPod speaker dock, and several headphones and earbuds.

It’s not just hemp; the products are made form a variety of eco-concious materials, including recycled plastic and aluminum.

They also sound pretty good. At least, they did in the cavernous press hall. The twin-speaker boombox pumped out a pretty hefty sound — but it’s impossible to give anything a proper listen at CES.

A portion of profits goes to 1Love.org, a charity supported by the Marley family.

Pictured above is Bob Marley’s son, Rohan, wearing a pair of Marley cans. Here’s some pictures of some of the other products:

Intel Shows Off Speedy New Sandy Bridge Chips Destined For Next-Gen Macs [CES 2011]

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Intel VP Mooly Eden launches the new Sandy Bridge line of chips at CES. The chips are likely to find their way into Macs in 2011.

LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Intel gave a detailed look at its next-generation Sandy Bridge chips that will likely make their way into Macs in 2011.

The chips boast four cores and integrated graphics processors that improve image-processing performance and power-management, according to Intel.

The new chips are up to 800% faster than the current generation Core Duo chips used in most of the MacBook line today. The chips are 60% faster than high-end i7 chips used in top-of-the-line iMacs and Mac Pros.

Made with a 32nm manufacturing process, the chips boast an incredible 1.16 billion transistors apiece.

“That’s a big number,” said Intel VP Mooly Eden, who walked a packed CES press conference through several benchmark tests showing off the new chips’ processing power.

Several PC companies here at CES unveiled new machines powered by Sandy Bridge chips, including Lenovo. Apple is usually several months behind and will likely introduce the new chips in the spring at the earliest.

During the preview event, Intel’s executives were extremely bullish about the Sandy Bridge line, portraying it as the biggest product launch in the company’s recent history.

The Sandy Bridge line comprises 29 chips that will find their way into more than 100 different “desktops, laptops and everything in between,” said Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini in opening remarks.

The most important addition to the chips’ architecture is the integrated graphics processor, which outperforms 45% of discrete graphics cards on the market today, said Eden. It certainly looked pretty impressive, displaying and streaming 1080p HD streaming wirelessly from a laptop to a connected TV; and conjuring up a 3D avatar of Eden that he said could easily be inserted into a game in realtime.

iPad 2 Case Causing Stir [CES 2011]

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Courtesy: Engadget

A vendor of iPad cases usually wouldn’t create a ripple in the tidal wave of products announced daily from the CES floor. However, Dexim is making headlines by displaying a case reportedly designed for the unreleased iPad 2. The case looks similar to one for the original iPad, with some subtle differences.

Along with a magnetic bluetooth keyboard that attaches to one of the case’s flaps, the product reportedly features a thinner design (matching rumors), openings for a front and rear camera supposedly for the expected Facetime support, and a large opening in the back.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure With Your iPhone, iPad [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Now you can monitor your blood pressure on your iPhone or iPad, thanks to a new health-oriented accessory from Withings.

Withings’ Smart Blood Pressure Monitor is a $129 arm cuff that makes it easy to monitor your blood pressure every day, away from the doctor’s office.

“It’s much more accurate to test at home,” said Withings spokeswoman Carole Lavault.

“Twenty five percent of the worldwide population has hypertension,” she added.

On show here at CES, the system looks dead easy to use. Just wrap the sleeve around your arm and plug it into your iPhone/iPad’s dock. Hit the onscreen button, and the sleeve inflates/deflates to measure your blood pressure. That’s it; nothing to give you a heart attack.

Combined with a free app, the sleeve can record months of blood pressure data, which can be shared electronically with health care professionals.

Withings also makes the WiFi Body Scale, a net-connected scale, which can also send weight data to the blood pressure app.

Here’s a picture of the iPad app in action:

Joby Unveils Origami-Inspired iPad Stand/Case [CES 2011]

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Eileen Weinstein of Joby models their intricate new Ori for iPad case.

LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Joby released two new iPad stands yesterday. One borrowed from their line of bendable camera tripods, the other was more unusual, and took a page from the Japanese art of origami.

The GorillaMobile Ori ($80)  for iPad is made from a material called Hylite — a blend of aluminum and polypropylene — which felt pretty light and is supposedly super-tough. The origami-inspired design gives the case an intricate look (so many cutouts) and allows for a continuous hinge that can adjust the viewing angle to practically any position within its range. it’s also equipped with a swivel hinge that allows the iPad to be easily switched between portrait and landscape positions — or even turn the iPad into a steering wheel for racing games. Pretty cool.

Eton Improves The Soulra, Shows Off Prototype Solar-Powered iPhone Case [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS, CES 2011 — Still a day to go before CES is officially at full steam, we found a few nuggets at a Tuesday night press event.

First up is a pair of solar-powered goodies from Eton. The Soulra 2 is the pumped-up version of the original Soulra dock (which was featured in our 2010 Holiday Gift Guide). It’s got eight speakers, a massive flip-up, high-capacity solar-panel providing eight hours of tunes on just five hours of charge, and a facelift — we think it looks much more refined than its predeceessor.

Yeti Pro Raises the Bar for USB Microphone Quality [CES 2011]

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Proving that news embargoes and electronics trade shows attended by tens of thousands of people do not play well together, word of Blue Microphones’ new Yeti Pro USB microphone leaked from the desert Tuesday night as the giant Consumer Electronics Show began picking up steam in Las Vegas.

The highly anticipated successor to Blue’s successful, top-of-the line USB microphone, Yeti Pro is the first USB mic to combine 24 bit/192 kHz digital recording resolution with analog XLR output, making it potentially one of the finest, most versatile recording tools on the market.

Like its predecessor, the plain old Yeti, Yeti Pro features premium condenser capsules set in Blue Microphones’ proprietary triple capsule array, which supports four different recording patterns for capturing a wide range of recording situations.

Yeti Pro looks quite promising from here, an assessment shared by CES judges, who made Yeti Pro a 2011 CES Innovations Winner in High Performance Audio. The mic is set to retail for $249 and should be available at authorized Blue Microphone distributors later this month.

Griffin Launches Car-Monitoring Sensor For iPhone [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS — Griffin revealed something really cool today: a sensor that hooks up to your car’s diagnostic computer and feeds all kinds of info to your iPhone. Griffin calls it the CarTrip, and it attaches to your car’s OBD-II sensor (the thing car mechanics uses to diagnose problems), collects and stores the data, then sends it to your iPhone (we’re not sure how, because the press release doesn’t say), which then displays the data in realtime with the help its free partner app, CleanDrive.

The app/hardware package will reveal all kinds of information, like fuel consumption rates, acceleration, and it’ll interpret diagnostic codes. It’ll also display a “Carbon Score,” so you can figure out how much you’re befouling the planet by driving around.

CarTrip should be available in early 2011 for $90.

Update: CarTrip is equipped with Bluetooth for relaying the data to an iPhone. Thanks Levi!

What We Can’t Wait To Touch At This Year’s CES [CES 2011]

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LAS VEGAS — After hours of driving through the cow-infested flatness of California’s Central Valley, CultofMac Editor Leander Kahney and I have finally arrived in Vegas, primed to report from this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. The doors only officially open on Thursday, but here’s some of the sparkly new stuff we saw released today that we’re mega-pumped to get our hands on at this year’s show: