CES Unveiled: Where Manufacturers Bring Their B Game To Mildly Impress The Press

The actual tech stampede that is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas doesn’t start until Tuesday, but the press gets here a few days early so manufacturers can officially announce what’s behind those curtains on the show floor. Additionally, there’s the annual CES Unveiled event, in which a handful of exhibitors compete with the free food and drinks in an attempt to impress the press. You occasionally run into some items — like the baby monitor-type system for elderly people — but this year’s group had few standouts.

There were some audio items that seemed interesting but require further investigation. For one, RCA is set to introduce a sound bar speaker system for your TV that integrates a Roku-like streaming media player. So if you have a TV that predates the current internet-ready trend, this product will give you access to all that content without having to buy a new set. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to sample the sound, so it’s hard to say if it’s a good buy.

Then there are the crayon-shaped headphones for kids that are the result of a partnership between Griffin and Crayola. They’re cute — here’s some photographic evidence — and they have a volume limit so as to not damage your little ones’ eardrums, but we’re curious to see if kids will stick that pointy end in their ears.

The folks at iHome were showing off, among other things, a Bluetooth-based docking system complete with keyboard and speakers that turns your tablet or phone (they were only showing an iPad; we’re going to try it with some Android devices when it’s on the CES floor) into a wireless monitor.

In the growing realm of connected household systems, Nest was pushing its smart thermostat, which in addition to remote access, the company claims learns from your energy usage history so you can change your heating and cooling behavior to save money.

And I was intrigued by the Oregon Scientific combination clock/weather center/charging station (see pic above) that not only features wireless charging for smartphones but also has a second time readout that projects straight up, so if you’re lying in bed at night and can’t sleep, this device will remind you how late it is and what a wreck you will be in the morning.

Not a bad little show in all (and I did manage to score about 10GB worth of free thumb drives thanks to the digital press kits), but there were no mind-blowers — or even any head-scratchers — this year. Hopefully there will be some of both when they fling open the doors to the exhibit halls later this week.

Monday is press conference day, so expect to see some announcements coming from the bigger names in electronics.

Until then, I’m off to the high rollers lounge (to see if anyone dropped any chips on the floor).

Comments

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  1. gman863 says:

    The mantra of CES (much like fashion shows, concept auto shows, etc.) seems to be based on throwing sh*t against the wall and seeing what sticks.

    My guess is that, given the dismal failure of 3D TV so far (as in the deep price cuts retailers have had to eat to sell their inventory), the buyers for major electronics retailers are going to play it very cautiously on committing to orders for new or unproven items.

    On top of this, the concept of major manufacturers holding back their hottest offerings for debut at CES died years ago at the hands of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

  2. ScarletAnn says:

    CES…They still holding that?

  3. RStormgull says:

    “so manufacturers can do officially announce what’s behind those curtains on the show floor”

    Can do officially?

    #corrections

  4. Coelacanth says:

    “…but we’re curious to see if kids will stick that pointy end in their ears.”

    If they master these headphones, then perhaps they’ll be ready for Needle.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Don’t remind me of when that series was good.

      Just finished Dance this weekend. What a freakin’ miserable, pointless disappointment.

  5. Grasshopper says:

    “You occasionally run into some items ‚Äî like the baby monitor-type system for elderly people ‚Äî but this year’s group had few standouts.”

    If you watch where you’re going you can avoid bumping into things.

  6. shepd says:

    I’ve had a ceiling projection clock for 10 years. In fact, I’ve been through two of them now, because they’re cheap and the projection LEDs wear out from being overdriven.

    This is not news (especially about CES sucking now), although I wholeheartedly agree it deserves to be reported on. Too many places bandy it about like it’s great. It sucks. Manufacturers never bother showing anything innovative or new anymore. I guess they feel there’s too much risk?

  7. SharkD says:

    I bought an Oregon Scientific project clock about 10 years ago.

    It was overpriced and practically un-usable.

    I assume that the same can be said of the current offering, since the projection depiction looks about the same.

    • Ihmhi says:

      I bought an Oregon Scientific clock myself a few years ago… all I remember is that it’s white and has the same project feature.

      The “snooze” button is actually the whole clock radio. The footpads that it rests on are buttons, so to make the alarm snooze you just push down on the whole clock. However, this also turns on the radio which is downright annoying.

      I was looking for an alarm clock that was a red display (OS’s was orange, close enough) and was capable of 24 hour time (check). It’s served me well.

      Honestly if it weren’t for that stupid radio feature I’d love it. It’s perfect in every other way.

  8. ScarletAnn says:

    I got one of those alarm clocks that is always supposed to keep perfect time because its synced to the Naval Observatory or something like that.
    It was great until they moved Daylight Saving Time up a week; the clock wasn’t programmed for this.
    I meekly walked into work half an hour late and had to tell the boss my “Atomic clock” was broken.

  9. Rachacha says:

    I was watching a live webstream of the CES Unveiled event, and the hosts were talking to a representative from Belkin introducing a new computer docking station with Thunderbolt. It had every connector that you wanted, and the prototype seemed pretty nice. The hosts of the show asked the rep for pricing and availability, and the sales rep responded with “This Summer at a price of $299″. The hosts thanked the presenter, walked three steps away and had the same though as me “$300 for a glorified docking station, they won’t sell a single one”

  10. Kuri says:

    Been waiting for this so camera prices go down.