This week, Las Vegas paid host to CES, the massive annual consumer electronics show. CES isn't really as massive as it used to be—thank the Internet, I suppose—however many, many cool new gadgets were still announced. We've tried to pick out a few of the more accessible and useful ones companies presented over the last week (along with some other, mainly drinking-related, stuff, obviously).
Bottle-Opening Universal Remote, $12.99
This is so stupid, but we had to include it. It's a cheap univeral remote with a bottle-opener attached to its side—meaning you'll probably end up accidentally cutting your finger while grabbing for the remote when it's stuck in the sofa way more than you'll use it for its intended purpose. Still, a hell of a gag gift.
BEM Speaker trio, $299
If you're looking to have music blare from three different rooms at once (and who isn't, really), you could do worse than this speaker set. No wiring is required, because the tech geeks have listened to the common man's cry. And that message is, "We can't wire anything."
NVIDIA Project Shield, $TBA
An ideal purchase if you fly a lot or have fingers too fat to enjoy any games on the iPhone or Droid. Look, I'm right there with you, dudes. I've lost a lot of good blocks in Tetris thanks to that stupid touchscreen. RIP Vertical Blue.
Xbox IllumiRoom, $TBA
From the site on Thursday:
The IllumiRoom is currently being developed by the company's research division, and its prototype is currently being shown at CES in Vegas. It's apparently awesome. According to its website, the IllumiRoom uses a "Kinect for Windows camera and a projector to blur the lines between on-screen content and the environment we live in... changing the appearance of the room, inducing apparent motion, extending the field of view, and enabling entirely new game experiences."
Translation: It turns your room into an extension of your TV. If you're flying a helicopter on Grand Theft Auto, clouds whip around your walls. If you're playing Call of Duty, buildings and shit wrap around you as you walk through the battleground. If you're playing NCAA 2013, Bryant-Denny Stadium's stands surround you as you lead the Tide offense. (Katherine Webb fantasies can get uncomfortably real, I'm guessing.)
The pessimist in me says to take this with a grain of salt. The Kinect also looked pretty sweet in testing, and it's turned out to be kind of a dude. The optimist in me just curb-stomped the pessimist, then started drooling at just the thought of the IllumiRoom.
This might split the crowd, but I think this is one of the better looking shoes that New Balance has put out recently. Nice, sleek lines, and it'll work as a gym shoe or as an any-other-time shoe.
Here's a pretty sweet Kickstarter page: Two San Fran guys have created something called the BROpener, a bottle opener (yes, another one today) that can be stuck anywhere, and that allows you to actually preserve the side of your table while opening a beer. Recommended places the Kickstarter gives to put the BROpener include a boat, a bar, a man cave, and on the side of the cooler. These guys know their audience.
If you like the vintage look, these are dope. If you don't like the vintage look, your shoes are going to look vintage in a year anyway, so why not beat them to the punch?
Possibly the coolest item to be featured at CES, the Sony W Series MP3 player is an audio system that can be completely submerged under two meters of water, making a swim in a lap pool much, much more enjoyable. It holds 4 gigs of music, and can last on an 8 hour charge. (Enough to swim the English Channel, maybe?)
Somewhere, Michael Phelps—who spent thousands of hours training in the pool in complete silence, with only his thoughts and the water roaring around him as his company—is crying to himself. So much Jay-Z he missed out on. So much.
Vizio Windows 8 Tablet, $TBA
As someone writing about a tablet computer, I'm contractually obligated here to say here, "Tablet computers are EVERYWHERE!" While a cliche, it's undoubtedly true that there almost too many options, and the Vizio is entering a very crowded market. Still, its specs look good: 64GB SSD storage, AMD’s Z-60 APU processor with Radeon HD graphics and 2GB of RAM. Its operating system, Windows 8, will be a sticking point, though.
2014 Mercedes-Benz E 63, $TBA
We end with one thing to aspire for. Mercedes is releasing this E 63 AMG sedan this year, and it's a beaut. From Jalopnik:
The big news is that while the saloon (sedan) can be ordered with the classic rear-wheel drive setup, the estate comes with the 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard. Of course, the saloon can be ordered the extra grip as well, which comes in handy when somebody orders the top of the line S version. While the "normal" E 63 AMGs get 557 horses and 531 pound-feet of torque from the 5461 cc hand-built biturbo V8, the S-Model has 585 hp and 590 lb·ft. All-wheel drive or not, since 67 percent of the kraft is going to the rear, those figures can melt the 285/30 rear tires without breaking a sweat. Doing 0-62 in an big estate car in 3.7 seconds must be a lot of fun, and since the maximum torque is available between 1750-5000 rpm, the 7-speed automatic can do its job as without having to look for the power.
More pictures here. And after scrolling through them... Dammit, I hate to sound un-American, but wow, the Euros have made a nice-looking muscle car.