Drones, drones and more drones. Pardon the pun, but drones were all the buzz at this year's CES. Along with the iPhone-Life-award-winning, high-end, HEXO + drone ($1,149.00), and the ultra portable and more affordable ZANO drone (approximately $200.00), which received honorable mention and which you can read more about here, CES also featured several other excellent entries in the iOS-controlled drone category. Even though CES has come and gone, the excitement over the plethora of drones exhibited on the CES show floor lingers on.
I remember interviewing Oculus co-founder and VP, Nate Mitchell at CES 2013, back when his company was barely more than a humble crowd-funded campaign demoing a chunky, duct-taped box that strapped precariously on to your head. We talked optimistically about the future of virtual reality (VR), agreeing that the potential was great, even though consumer interest in this fledgling platform hadn't had a chance to gather much steam. Fast forward three years and Oculus is now a division of the Facebook empire, and we have Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg weighing in on the impact that this emerging technology will have on the world.
CES is over but the products that were presented are just hitting the markets or in some cases, aren't available yet. One of my perennial favorite product categories at CES is headphones and there were some distinctive sets introduced. Anyone can make headphones and make them loud, but Kidz Gear takes a different approach. Instead of trying to make them loud, they make them safe for kids' sensitive ears. After all, damage to the ear canal can be bad enough for old rockers like Pete Townshend, but for kids with their whole future ahead of them, it's an even bigger deal.
Every year, Apple updates their "A" series of chips that power the iPhone and iPad, prompting speculation that such a chip might find its way into the Mac product line. There are a lot of compelling reasons why that could happen, but there are usually more compelling reasons against it. Which is probably why it hasn't happened yet. However, the buzz is growing around an A-series chip in Apple's next low-end MacBook Air. Apple could control their destiny, using their own chip instead of relying on (and paying) Intel.
After scouring the sprawling sea of tech-gear that is CES, here's a compilation of the best of the adventure-proof, rugged gear that was on display. While not all of the items featured here are available for order quite yet, all of these products are expected to start shipping by Q2 this year, sometime around March most likely. Read on after the break to see what's coming in the world of heavy-duty gear for our iOS devices.
After a long week at the Consumer Electronics Show, it's time to reflect on what we just experienced. CES isn't really just a show anymore; it's a show of shows, each with its own theme. When I get back each year, my friends and family ask me what was "The Big Thing?" Because the show is so big, I've decided to break down the "theme" into multiple themes. This year, the different "big things" were as follows:
This year is shaping up to be an exciting one for Apple enthusiasts. Both Apple Watch and HomeKit hold the potential to be revolutionary in the same way the iPhone was eight years ago. The Wall Street Journal has a great article on the Apple Watch. Bottom line: just as the iPhone freed us from the desktop and made communication and information more mobile, so too will the Apple Watch take things to another level by making information and communication more convenient and easier.
The best of the CES show is often not on the beaten path. One key vendor we make sure to lock in on every year is the Imagination Technologies meeting rooms in South Hall at CES 2015 (way back in the corner). These guys are one of a select number of innovators that design the low-power, system on chip (SoC) technology needed to run our smart homes, smart cars, and smart mobile devices.
I do a lot of driving here in Vermont and it has recently become illegal to handle a phone while behind the wheel. I have tried many different dash mounts and like the functionality of magnetics, which have a magnet on the mount and a metal plate on the phone so that you don't have to fiddle with buttons or gripping mechanisms. All you do is hold your phone up to the mount and it snaps in place.
Keeping tabs on little ones can be a full-time job. Turn your head for a minute, and they can almost magically disappear and get into trouble (and if you were ever lost in a store as a kid, you understand). These days, there are smart sensors to keep tabs on everything, including your younglings, and the HereO GPS watch ($179.99) is an example of some of the kid-friendly, protective tech we were able to check out at CES 2015.
The newest smart lens from Kodak, the PIXPRO SL5, debuted at CES this week. We got to sit down with the Kodak team and get the full scoop on this impressive iPhoneography accessory. After hearing all about what this little lens can do, and seeing it put through its paces, it was apparent that we were looking at a product that was well deserving of our iPhone Life Magazine Best of CES award.
Lot's of cool audio to check out at CES 2015, but I have always thought speaker cases were kind of a weird combo (and possibly quite dead). If I needed to boost audio from my phone, I would probably use an actual external speaker, but who wants to lug one around (even as part of a bulky external case)? Well, ZAGG and PERI have both found a way to make the speaker case compelling again!
The autonomous, intelligent ZANO drone is designed to sense and avoid obstacles and is perfect for anyone new to drone piloting, or anyone interested in putting a drone to good use as a flying, selfie-taking, remote aerial vehicle.
I wish I were at CES, but must be content with reading the news reports. One that caught my eye was an announcement by Philips of noise-canceling headphones that plug into the Lightning connector port and that don't need batteries. They're powered by the port itself. As you likely know, noise-canceling headphones use microphones to listen to ambient sounds and then generate sound waves to destructively interfere with the sound waves in the environment. The result is silence, giving you the full pleasure of hearing what's coming from your iPhone or iPad. The Fidelio NC1L headphones use Philips' own 24-bit digital-to-analog converter rather than the converter built into your iPhone or iPad. You can read a hands-on review and see a video on Digital Trends.
I loved the sound and comfort level of the new Wearhaus ARC headphones. I found theem over in the Sands Tech Expo area at CES 2015 (booth 75045). Though they do look cool with the flashing color-changing lights on the earpiece, the innovation extends beyond mere looks. Well-made material with smart wireless features set these $199 Kickstarted (and successfully funded) headphones apart.
You could do it the old way, of course. Water and monitor your garden and lawn health manually. You may also waste a lot of water, and potentially kill your newly planted hydrangeas in the process. GreenIQ ($249) purports to take some of the guesswork and dilemma out of the proper care and feeding of your outdoor environment by monitoring the weather and adjusting your irrigation to optimal levels while you get to sit back on the porch and enjoy your garden.
A bed with sensors that automatically adjust to your position while you sleep (and retails from between $7499-$9499 depending on mattress size) sounds a bit like a luxury science-fiction story, but it is a real technology on display this year at CES 2015. The ReST smart bed indeed alters the pressure areas from inside the mattress based on your movements and they even throw in an Android tablet (iOS app also available) that monitors and reports on your sleep activity.
If you know portable power, then you know Anker is a trusted source for affordable, reliable, and efficient portable power accessories. At CES 2015, we were able to get the rundown on the latest and greatest charging and ZOLO portable battery packs ($29.99–$59.99 MSRP), and even learn a little about PowerIQ: The excellent technology that speeds charge cycles to any device...
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