Lessons Learned from CES 2018

Well, I have returned from Las Vegas once again after experiencing the wonders that is CES. This shot here is from LG, and I forget what they called this, but it is a canyon of displays of some type.

I have discussed a few things about CES, but they are really summaries at best. The thing about CES is that there are so many things to talk about, it is actually unfair for me to discuss just one.

Still, I have bought home some stuff with me, and will be doing some hands-on reviews later. I have made some business contacts that are promising to send me some stuff, and I will review all that.

I have a phone book full of contacts that I will need to get back to. Until then, I’m going to talk about some things that I learned at CES.

1) Wireless Charging is going to be the new standard.

The Samsung S8 can do it. The new iPhone can do it. My LG G6 can do it. I have reported on Qi products many times, and ten years ago it was the Powermat, but you needed a special case. Now most smartphones have that in there, which means the end of charging cables.

2) Will VR ever take off?

Every time I am at CES, I see some amazing advancements in Virtual Reality. Generally, someone has some interesting games, as well a whole slough of 360 cameras. However, no one is talking about how to get this new medium of storytelling going. It is like the difference between the earliest silent films and modern film.

3) Everything will be Alexa or vocally controlled

I saw so many devices that could use some vocal control, from an Alexa device, that or Siri, or OK Google. I suppose that we just want to control all our devices vocally, because we want to live like Star Trek.

I didn’t even mention the power outage on Wednesday, or all of the startups that I will never have time to cover.

CES 2018 with ShowStoppers

For those of you who are not in the know, CES covers many places in Las Vegas including the Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands/Venetian Convention Center Areas, and much more. Not only that, there are after-parties to attend, such as the CES Unveiled that I covered two days ago.

Among the most famous of these after parties is Showstoppers, and this one usually requires some kind of special invitation. Here are some of the companies that I had the opportunity to see.

I realize that this photo is a little blurry, but it gives you a good idea of what one of these after-parties are like. Note the elaborate backdrop in one of these casinos, which was the Wynn. Then there are the booths set up, and I didn’t get any good shots of the great cuisine.

Here’s another shot of the room. It really is awesome to be there.

Always glad to see that my old friends at Beyerdynamic are up to their old and new tricks. I don’t remember what the name of this particular headphone was, but I sure as heck want to report on it.

Glad to see that JLab was also on the scene with their headphones.

I always like what Supertooth has in stores, and they are getting into that wireless earbuds game with the TW1.

My friends at Jabra had some great stuff on display, and they never stop with their awesome.

Here is a bag that will give a loud alarm if you attempt to break in to it. It is an idea that really should have happened a long time ago.

This is a combination of a game with an app for something really interesting known as Beasts of Balance.

Speaking of games, I loved this handheld for mobile devices from Gamesir, and hopefully will get to report on it soon.

Electrica Meccanica had their Solo Car on display inside. I am told that they drove it in, and this fully electric vehicle is so skinny that i believe it, don’t you?

This particular robot by Somnox is one you can sleep with. Yes, that sounds a little bad, but it has this comfortable breathing thing going on that reminds me of snuggling next to a dog on a lonely night.

Here’s some Tough Tested products that I hope to review here in the near future.

Uh, here’s a robot. I saw a lot of these at CES this year.

Nothing I like more than some interlocking triangles that can literally brighten up a room.

Yes, that is me, petting a duck. Aflac had this display where they are creating these toy ducks to help kids with cancer. I will report on that later, but I was so glad that I could pet this duck. After years of feeding them bread and never touching them, I finally had my chance. There are some things that technology cannot provide, as nature does.

CES 2018 with China Tech First Look

There is more that goes on at CES than what is shown on the floor. There are after-parties, not to mention the before-parties. I was fortunate enough to attend CES Unveiled 2018, and I was just as pleased to attend China Tech First Look the next day.

I always look forward to seeing new technology, particularly ones that I have never encountered before. I was not disappointed with what I saw here.

I’ll go ahead and start with these. This is the Honeycomb, and they are magnetic blocks that can be programmed. It is part of a STEAM initiative, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics. Most people just use STEM.

These are some interesting electric locks from WeLock, which are clearly going to be the new standard as far as what will be on your door. They are fully programmable, even from a distance on your phone.

Welcome to a new age of electronic bikes. The Smartcircle S1 has an unusual shape, and I got to drive it down the halls of the Flamingo Hotel. It was as fun as it sounds, but there is a bit of a learning curve on the ride.

Now here is an interesting microphone ready for taking on just about anything, as it is from Sabinetek.

This is quite something. It is a device that allows you to put a picture of anything on a fingernail. I’m not talking about making a fake nail, but putting an image on the nail using a very fine sticker.

If you don’t believe it works, check out this self-portrait on my hand.

I’m not certain what I’m going to write about tomorrow, but it will be certain that it will appear at CES 2018.

First Day at CES 2018, after CES Unveiled

Yesterday was quite a tough day for me. After getting a flight at 6:00 AM and landing in Las Vegas by noon, there was a lot of moving around with “hurry up and wait”.

As you can see from this great shot taken from Mandalay Bay, we are in Las Vegas now. (Thanks to Dan Feinberg for the use of this shot.)

Technically, CES 2018 does not start until tomorrow, but if you arrive two days early, there is an event for the press known as CES Unveiled where you can experience a small percentage of the companies that will be represented there.

This would be L’entrance. I’ll try and show you how big this room at the Mandalay Bay (yes, the one from the shooting) actually was.

Ah, this should give you a better idea of what it was like. Lots of companies represented in rows, with places for folks to congregate in the middle, and tables for food.

Oh, here’s some samples of the food. There is some eggplant caviar in there, and yes, it was worth the trip just to get it.

But enough about food, lets get to the companies. I can’t remember what the name of this company was, but they invented a way of turning ordinary water into mineral water by hitting it with radiation. Yes, I checked, and it is harmless.

This company has a weird name with “Teach on Mars”, but it is an application that if you give it facts, it will quiz you back on them. Very cool.

Here is a company that allows for making postcards with selfies. You can add a filter to make you into a cop or something.

I have seen a lot of companies that focus on monitoring your water. Most of them have an app associated with them, and this Flo is able to really figure out where leaks are.

If you look closely, you can see that these headphones have some weird thing attached to them. These are for monitoring your brain. I think brain-monitoring devices are going to be kind of a thing here in the near future, and I’ll check in on them at CES 2019.

This is an interesting device that I am told can be made for homeopathic medicines and such, including cannabis. I’m guessing that I am going to see a lot of devices like these in the future.

This is a wine rack that you can program, so it will light up on whatever bottle that you are looking for. It was made by French, and I so a lot of French companies at CES Unveiled, and I have a hunch that I will be seeing more.

Now this I just loved. What you are seeing here is the Lovebox, and it has an 8-bit Legend of Zelda heart (or whatever else you want) on the front that spins when you get a message. When you open it up, you will see the personalized message. I like tech that thinks outside the box and inside of it at the same time.

These guys were great. If you had a photo, they could put it on a T-shirt in seconds. This is the type of tech that you go to CES to see, and it is practical, too!

Then there is stuff like this. This is Sniffy, which will allow you to smell what you are watching. I’ve seen this before, and I’ve never seen it come to odoriferous fruition. Good luck with this.

The guy showing this off sure was proud. These are Debussy headphones, and they are quite advanced, and they even have a screen on the earcup. It is quite something, and at one heck of a high price.

This company has made a drone that can go underwater. Now, if you are able to make it go above the water (in the air) that would be something.

This is some awesome technology from a company known as BrainCo. Yeah, I had to get me some video footage, as I like the idea that limbs can be replaced artificially.

Here’s a cool ice sculpture for you. We’ll have more from CES later.

We’re Going to Las Vegas for CES 2018!

Well, I have been taking a few weeks off after recovering from the holidays and all the stuff that I have been reviewing before that time. There are some other reasons why I have been off, but I don’t want to get into that at this time.

The thing is that last year was tough, as I had to skip CES 2017. If you are not familiar with CES, it is the Consumer Electronics Show where all the big electronics companies show off what they have to offer for the year. It happens in the first full week of January, always in Las Vegas at the Convention Center, the Venetian, and various other places in the city.

Tomorrow, I am heading out on a flight to Las Vegas, and the first event that I will attend is known as CES Unveiled, which is made for the press. I’m hoping that I can get in on whatever is going to be a game-changer, tech-wise.

My Inbox is getting so full of people requesting that I come visit their particular booth. This week is one where I work the hardest, and I spend the rest of the next few months reporting on the companies that I find.

Yes, I am greatly looking forward to it, and I look forward on getting back to you with CES 2018 news.

Last Minute Holiday Gift Guide for Christmas 2017

Well, if you are like me, then you probably are wondering why you put off your Christmas shopping so late in the year. For those that are wanting to get that perfect gift for the holiday season should check out these items. Some of you will recognize this as my Black Friday Gift Guide, but I added a few things that I have recently reviewed.

How about Headphones?

Let’s start with Beyerdynamic’s DT 770 Studio.

You might want to get some when you sleep with the Soft-Tones Pillow Speaker. You can also try the SleepPhones by Acoustic Sheep.

There are models that are wired and wireless from ZAGG’s iFrogz.

You can get some great earbuds from 1More with the Dual Driver LTNG ANC In-Ear Headphones.

Also, Outdoor technologies has a good pair, along with some Bluetooth earbuds you can read about here. Speaking of Bluetooth earbuds…

Need a pair of Bluetooth earbuds?

I would suggest the Jabra Elite 25e for wired action. For wireless action, check out the New Elite Sport, also from Jabra.

The SleepPhones have a wireless version.

Oh, did I mention the iHome Fit (iB71), because that exists too.

Then there is the MOXYO Mission Wireless Earbuds.

There’s a Computer Accessory for you!

I recommend the IOGEAR Compact USB-C Docking Station with PD Pass-Thru and the Thunderbolt 3 to Dual 4K DisplayPort Adapter.

Then there is the OWC Thunderbolt Dock 3.

J5Create has several types that you can read about here and here. There’s some more J5 accessories available here.

You should see what Accell is making.

Need a Case for your Smartphone/Tablet?

UAG has some great ones like the iPhone 8/7 like the Monarch and PYLO, as well as the iPhone X.

Go with brands like Patchworks!

Something really unusual is this thing from Vibes Audio.

Now Toast gives you some good cover as well!

Catalyst also has several of them for the iPhone X and Apple Watch.

BGZ Brands also has the Lander Moab case for protection against the cold!

There are also some great ones from X-Doria. This might not be a case, but I recommend Armpocket for when you take your phone out on the road.

Speck has some really terrific cases, and you can read about the ones for Samsung and Apple.

Oh, you should also get yourself a screen protector, like the type made by Invisible Shield.

Then there are the ones from Nomad.

There are also some from Bodyguardz.

If you want a Folio case for your iPad, check out these two from ZAGG.

Also, UAG has your Google Pixel covered with these cases.

Looking for a gift for a gamer?

There is the Crusher Wireless from Skullcandy.

There is the Custom Game for Beyerdynamic. Then there is always the SteelSeries Rival 110.

There is also the Logitech G433, a 7.1 Wired Surround Gaming Headset.

Chargers are always needed!

There are ChargeHub X3 and X5.

Check out the Kodiak Plus 2.0 from Outdoor Technology.

It is similar to the Nomad 3-Port Hub, Powerpack, and the Charging Cables.

You can also go wireless with your charging thanks to the Mophie Wireless Charging Base.

Check out the RapidX DualX and X5 Rapid Car Charger.

I wish this one is available, but it is the Fingerpow.

Then there is the myCharge AdventureUltra and AdventureMax. Not only that, there is the myCharge Adventure JumpStart.

You can also go solar with the PowerKeep 12 and 36, as well as the Powerkeep Wanderer.

The M-EDGE Packlight, Tech Sackpack, and 8000 mAh Power Bank are also worth it.

Then there is the Bobine Flexible iPhone Dock.

Need to Boost your phones’ reception?

I would recommend the Wilson Drive Sleek Signal Booster for cars.

How about a Bluetooth speaker?

There is the iHome iBT77 Speaker as well as the iBT374. Then there is the iAVS1 for the Amazon Echo Dot. There is also the iPLWBT5 for the Apple Watch and your smartphone.

Oh, there is also two from Outdoor Technology, the Turtle Shell 3.0 and Buckshot 2.0.

Need a keyboard?

Check out the Matias Wireless Aluminum Keyboard with Backlight.

Cherry also has the MX Board Silent and the G80-3850 MX Brown 3.0.

I also had a fun time with the Snakebyte Key:Board Ultra.

Got a musician on your list?

I’m going to recommend two products from IK Multimedia with the iRig Mic HD 2 and the iRig Keys I/O 25.

Like taking pictures with your smartphone?

Get yourself an Olloclip Pivot!

How about something for a biker?

No problem. Get the SmartHalo.

Want something for the kitchen?

Look no further than the Gourmia GTA1500 Digital Electric Air Fryer, Griller, and Roaster.

You might want to check out the Bedol Squirt Water Clock.

How about a GPS device?

Seriously, check out the TomTom GO 52 Navigation Unit.

Traveling for the holiday?

I recommend the eGee Touch TSA Smart Travel Lock.

Also, there are two great backs from Cocoon Innovations that I will recommend. The first is the Graphite 15-inch brief and the second is the TECH 16-inch backpack.

What a more connected home?

If you want some automated bulbs, check out Sengled’s Classic Kit A19.

Speaking of home, you can do some home improvement with the TapHanger

Speck Christmas, Part 2: Presidio Ultra (iPhone X), Presidio Wallet (iPhone 6S/7/8), ShieldView GlassPro (iPhone 6S/7/8), Presidio Metallic (iPhone 6S Plus/7 Plus/8 Plus), and Presidio Clear + Print (iPhone 6S Plus/7 Plus/8 Plus)

Okay, it is time to review some more Speck, and we have a lot going on here. Unlike last time, when we reviewed Samsung-related accessories, we are going to cover what Speck has for Apple with

Speck Presidio ULTRA for the iPhone X

I have to be honest when I say that I am surprised that the Presidio Ultra is not one of those waterproof cases. As far as I know, it isn’t, because it would have bragged about it on its packaging.

As it stands, the Presidio ULTRA for the iPhone X will give you the protection for Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone, at least from dust and dirt. If that sounds good to you, let’s throw in a little 15 foot drop protection. Oh, it has a no-slip grip, and 360 degrees of port protection.

Not only that, but this has four layers of protection thanks to our old elemental friend of Impactium. It also comes with this rugged holster as well.

In short, it looks like the Presidio Ultra for the iPhone X has it all, and it is available on the Speck site for $49.95.

Speck Presidio Wallet for the iPhone 6S/7/8

So, this is another interesting military-grade case with the Presidio Wallet. This one is made with two layers of protection, and it has that Impactium shock barrier. Did I mention that it is military-grade, drop-tested at 10 feet? Because it is.

You can see why it is called the Wallet, and it can hold up to 3 cards. I’m actually seeing this feature as practically standard these days, but that depends on how you shop. I still use a wallet, but I think the next generation will just use a driver’s license and a computer program to pay.

If this is something that you desire, head on over to the Speck site and pay $44.95 for it.

Speck ShieldView Glass Pro for iPhone 6S/7/8

Okay, it looks like I’m going to briefly not talk about cases to talk about screen protectors, and they do go hand in hand. The ShieldView GlassPro is tempered glass with sapphire treatment, and it is shatter resistant with a sapphire perimeter.

I always like how easy they are making screen protectors these days, and this particular one is easy to put on. You can then have the protection against scratches and oil.

It is quite good, and you can get it for about $49.95 on the Speck site. And by the way, you should really just get a screen protector if you don’t have one already.

Speck Presidio Metallic for the iPhone 6S Plus/7 Plus/8 Plus

Well, this is a case that is quite something, with the Presidio Metallic. Like other cases of its type, it has two layers of protection and that Impactium as well.

I would have to say that Metallic isn’t really accurate, as it doesn’t appear to be made of metal. I mean, it feels like some kind of hard plastic, something that is not soft to the touch.

It certainly is very decent, and it is available on the Speck site for about $24.97. At least for now, as that could be a holiday rate.

Speck Presidio CLEAR + PRINT for iPhone 6S Plus, 7 Plus, and 8 Plus

Well, I have already talked about the CLEAR in my aforementioned Samsung review, and gone into detail about how it is military grade and drop tested for 8 feet. It also has that Impactium that I keep bringing up, and this will be the last time that I bring it up.

What makes the CLEAR + PRINT different is that it has a design on it. I suddenly realize that as I have been writing about all of these and have not mentioned the color of any of these. The CLEAR + PRINT is all about the cool design, and for some reason, there are bikes and flowers on these cases.

I highly recommend going to the Speck site and checking the patterns out for yourself. You can get it for about $24.97, and that is a possible discount price for some of the patterns.

UAG (Urban Armor Gear) Plasma Cases for the Google Pixel 2 and XL 2

By now, I have become pretty familiar with Urban Armor Gear (UAG) and their line of cases. I was very pleased to try out the Plasma case for Google’s line of smartphones with the Pixel 2 and XL 2.

I will have to say that the Plasma is a design that I have seen and reported on before, the last time was with the HUAWEI P10 and Mate 9. The Plasma has this hard plastic thing going on as well as this mesh thing with a cool rubberized frame.

Part of what makes the Plasma work is that it is feather light, which means that you can barely feel the weight. The issue is that you get the protection, which is what you really want. It certainly has the military drop test standards pass.

Now, the ones that I got to try were ice, which means that they are clear. They are also available in Ash, which is black in its color. You can get the Plasma for the Google Pixel 2 for $39.95 here, and the Google Pixel XL 2 here for the same price.

Speck Christmas, Part 1: Presidio CLEAR, GRIP, and GRIP + GLITTER for Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8

It’s been since the beginning of the year since I reviewed Speck products, so I was quite pleased to be reviewing some of their products for the newer products like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and the Note 8. These are the ones with Presidio in their name, presumably after that famous neighborhood in San Francisco.

Speck Presidio CLEAR for the Samsung Galaxy S8

Well, it’s pretty easy to see why this is called the Presidio Clear, because this case is…yeah, I don’t really need to say it.

The Presidio is made of some transparent Impactium, and I’m very certain that I can’t find that on the table of elements. Still, if you want to give your Galaxy S8 some protection from eight-foot drops, I would go with this guy, who keeps it pretty clear as well.

The Presidio Clear is also designed to be very scratch resistant, so should you require protection of this type, I would suggest going for it. You can get it on the Speck site for $19.97, but that might be a holiday discount as it is regularly $39.95.

Speck Presidio GRIP for the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Note 8

I’m going to do two reviews for the price of one, because there really isn’t much difference between the Presidio GRIP for the Samsung Galaxy S8 as there is from the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. Unless we are talking about size here.

Like the CLEAR, the GRIP is easy to see how it got its name. See how ribbed it is on the sides? Good luck trying to accidentally drop your device when it is wearing one of these.

Oh, and it also has an Impactium Shock Barrier on the inside, and I’m considering calling whoever assembles the Table of Elements and adding it. You can add the Presidio GRIP to your Samsung Galaxy S8 here discounted to half-price for $19.97 or your Galaxy Note 8 here discounted to half-price for $22.47.

Speck Presidio GRIP + GLITTER for the Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Okay, before I talk about the Speck Presidio GRIP + GLITTER for the Galaxy Note 8, I should bring up something that I should have brought up when I was talking about the GRIP.

That is, it has two layers of Impactium, and it is military grade drop-tested at 10 feet (3 meters). Like the GRIP, it is very soft, and it has the ribbed sides for non-slippage.

So, it is a great case, and it comes with glitter! It sparkles under the light like a vampire, the Twilight kind. You can pick it up on the Speck site for about $49.95. I don’t think there is a discount going on this guy, though.

The iRig Keys I/O 25 by IK Multimedia

I always like when I get the chance to review some IK Multimedia products, and when it came time to review a keyboard from them, I jumped at the chance. The iRig Keys I/O 25 is named due to its 25 piano keys (which is about two octives), and it is a 25-key ultra-compact MIDI controller with input/output audio interface for the PC, Mac, iPhone and iPad.

You can see the touch-sensitive sliders, buttons, as well as the knobs on it. The slider strip is for pitch and modulation, and there are 5 programmable encoders, as well as 8 velocity-sensitive pads.

Just to let you know, you will be needing some software if you want to be making music on this thing. I will readily admit that I am not the type who is adept on that, but my daughter is. She would appreciate the sampling rate up to 96 kHz, with bit depth up to 24 bit. We had a bit of a difficult time getting the software, as the iRig Keys I/O 25 need software to work. I’m talking programs like the SimpleTank 3, Syntonik Pro-V, and T-RackS Deluxe, all available from IK Multimedia. I really wish that these programs, available for the iPad and iPhone, would be available for Android devices.

By the way, this guy is full of ports. It’s got a Neutrik combo input jack for line, instrument, or mics. It will also run on 4 AA batteries, not to mention USB power.

So if you are a music nut (not to be confused with a music note), and you want to do your keyboarding on something that saves space, I would recommend the iRig Keys I/O 25. It is available on the IK Multimedia site for $199.99, and the I/O 49 is available for $299.99.