Even though the show floor for the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show doesn't open officially until Monday, a preview event Saturday night provided a sneak peak at what some of the more talked about tech toysmight be this year.
Here's a rundown of the stuff I found interesting, in no particular order.
Some products are not yet available while some were recently released.
Niles-based Shure introduced three new in-ear headphones. In myholiday guide last year, I wrote that Shure's E500 line of headphones,at a pricey $500, were by far the best thing I stuck in my ears allyear.
Well, it's too soon to say if these new models will rival those insound, but the price points are friendlier. During a brief test at aloud and crowded event, I was impressed at how well the new SE310'sreduced the external noise while delivering rich sound. The headphonesdrowned out the noise around me fairly well and at low volumes.
The SE310 will be priced at $250. I didn't get a chance to listen tothe other two headphones, the SE210 ($150) or the SE420 ($350), butboth weigh about 1 ounce and easily fit in the ear.
The pricier SE420 model includes a dedicated tweeter and woofer ineach ear. The SE210 and SE310 models have what Shure calls hi-defmicrospeakers in each ear plus the 310's are tuned for more bass. Andlast year's E500's? They've been renamed SE530 and now sell for $449.The three new models will be available by mid-February, a Shureofficial said Saturday night.
In another accessory for your iPod (there's a lot of that at thisyear's show, shockingly), Duracell is launching a line of batterychargers for video and Nano iPods. These adapters looked nice andDuracell claims they will double the battery life between charges. Asa bonus, the adapters include an FM transmitter, something Apple hasyet to build into the iPod (but Microsoft has with the Zune). Hencethe product's name, Power FM.
Both adapters cost $79 and can be found online at Amazon.com now or inbricks-and-mortar stores in the second quarter.
Gennum Corp., a Canadian firm that makes noise-canceling chips, ismoving into the hardware market with what looks like a pretty coolBluetooth earpiece for mobile phones. Priced at $129.99, which is highand sold at office supply companies like Staples and OfficeMax, theNX6000 seems promising. The profile sticking out of a user's eardoesn't look as dorky as other Bluetooth earpieces and a spokespersonsaid the "ear tip" is shorter for a more comfortable fit. I didn'tstick them in my ear, but they looked nice. The NX6000 is nowavailable, officially launched Saturday.
Another power-saving device that looks promising, but won't beavailable until sometime this spring for about $49, is the EcosolPower Stick. The device looks like a USB thumb drive but plugs intodevices ranging from BlackBerry's to iPods to provide juice whenbatteries are running low.
The company behind the power stick, Ecosol Solar Technologies, saidusers can just put the portable charger in a pocket and skip takingthe power brick when on the road. I'm unclear how long a charge willlast, but the device recharges by simple plugging the USB end rightinto a PC or laptop (so make sure you have that on your business tripbefore leaving the power bricks at home).
Parrot, the French company that makes fun Bluetooth devices, showed anew 7-inch digital frame that accepts photos sent via Bluetooth from amobile phone, a camera (Kodak has a Bluetooth model) or even acomputer. I gave a favorable review to Parrot's 3.5-inch digital framelast year, so the bigger model is welcome.
If your camera phone has at least 2 megapixels of resolution, theseBluetooth photo frames make a nice gift. But even an image during atest of phone with a 1.3-megapixel camera looked nice on the newframe, which holds 500 images. It will be available in the secondquarter for $249; it's already sold in Europe.
Kudos to Chicago's Cobra Electronics for showing a smaller and moreaffordable car GPS device. The Nav One 2100 will be available in Marchfor $299, a lower price than what's offered by most competitors. The3.5-inch screen was sharp and the unit should fit nicely on adashboard. Cobra's previous model, the Nav One, has a 5-inch screenand was priced at $999. It has since been reduced to $599, but I thinkthere will be few buyers for that monster once people see the sleek2100, available in March.
Cobra also showed a new radar detector, it's bread-and-butter product,that some people may find controversial. The wireless device (no moreplugging into the cigarette lighter, err 12-volt battery) tracks whichtraffic lights have cameras mounted on them. Hence, when you areapproaching a light with one of these cameras, the radar detector willlet you know so you're not tempted to run the light and have a pictureof your license plate taken and ticket sent to you in the mail. (Thelights don't emit a signal, so Cobra created a database of thesecamera lights and updates are sent to buyers of this radar detector.)
A spokesperson for Cobra says these cameras are mounted atintersections known for traffic accidents, so the detector actuallywarns you that a potentially dangerous corner is coming up. I'm notsure I buy that argument, but you'll be able to buy this radardetector, the XRS R9G for $450 in March.
Another product set to launch in March is the S-XGEN mini-computer,from a company called Seamless Wi-Fi. The device, which runs onWindows mobile software and has a 20-gigabyte hard drive, weighs 14ounces, includes a fold-up keyboard, plays music, movies and displaysphoto. It even has cellular connectivity, so it can be used as amobile phone. Call it a personal digital assistant on steroids, butit's pricey at $1,395. It looks pretty cool, though.
Got a lot of digital media on your PC, like movies or music? A newsoftware program, Vault 360 Platinum, stores and manages all thatcontent. More impressively, it reformats the content so you can easilymove it from your computer to you're smart phone or any other portablegadget. Can't leave home without Napolean Dynamite? This program, $50from Bamboo Technology, will put it on your Q, if you like. Thesoftware is available now and it's PC-only for the moment.
In what may have been the coolest product I saw, a new aftermarket carstereo from Eclipse includes a removable GPS navigation system you cantake with if you're going on a road trip and need to rent a car. Therest of the car stereo, which has a CD player, a USB hub for an mp3player, a plug for an iPod and can receive satellite stations, staysin your auto.
The pull-out GPS device is made for Eclipse by Tom Tom, whose devicesI've reviewed favorably in the past. This robust auto audio unit willbe available at Circuit City in the spring, and the price will bebelow $1,000.
Finally, Internet radio meets Wi-Fi with the Infusion portable radio,made by Torian. It will be in stores sometime in February, priced at$299, and uses Wi-Fi to connect to countless Internet radio stations.This small, hand-held device works anywhere it can access a Wi-Finetwork.
(Throughout the duration of the Consumer Electronics Show, technology repoorter and Tech Buzz columnist Eric Benderoff will file reports from the floor of the show in Las Vegas)Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times