Finding the Good Stuff at CES

I must admit that it was my first visit to CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) last week in Las Vegas. One word: overwhelming! With technology and geek culture becoming less niche and more mainstreamed, this year had interest and coverage from more than just the go-to tech sites. My mom even called me up to say how cool she thought all the gadgets were that she was seeing on the regular nightly TV newscast.

So how big is CES you might ask? Here are some numbers to give you a sense of its gigantic scope: Over 110,000 people attended the conference from 140 countries, there were 20,000 product launches, this year’s showroom floor was bigger than 32 football fields. Yep- that’s big!

So what can we add to our wish list from this year’s show? Super slim 3D LED TV’s, Google’s new Iphone killer Nexus One Smartphone, E-Readers galore, Tablet PC’s and netbooks.

All that aside, there’s a lot of other “stuff” hidden in the trenches. With some help from my Twitter friends and some Bloggers, I’ve put together a list of the Top 10 Offbeat CES Finds:

1) Solio
While roaming the floor, I stumbled on the very chic solar power energy charger, Solio, which is available in stores and recently partnered with the Village Phone Program to bring an energy alternative to developing communities in Africa. I spoke with founder, Christopher Horner, about this eco-friendly product:

2) Random celeb appearances
If Lady Gaga’s audience isn’t big enough, it just got bigger. The new queen of pop was pegged by USA Today as “the belle at CES” performing and announcing a creative partnership with Polaroid. Honorable mentions go to: “Real Housewives of New York” star Jill Zarin and Punky Brewster who appeared at the Kodak booth. Off-site, Blackberry’s It Won’t Stay In Vegas party featured Levar Burton and Brett Spiner, and Monster entertained attendees with beats courtesy of John Legend.

3) Polar Bear TV
If you search the words weird and CES on Twitter this is one of two things that pops up (runner up is the huge Vuzix Wrap 920A 3D glasses). It was even deemed by Engadget Editor, Niley Patel, as the top “Crapgadget” of CES. Created by Hannspree, the huggable 720p resolution TV, includes a remote control and cuddle modes.

4) E-Cigarettes
Ron Brinkmann tweeted me his odd pick, the smokeless electronic cigarettes laying low at a booth in the “Lifestyle Gadgets” section. Created by Fifty-One, these e-cigarettes feel and taste like a cigarette without any of the chemicals or second hand smoke, so you can literally smoke them anywhere.

5) As Seen On TV Hat
Publicist Paula Gould sent me this not so favorite find of hers, the As Seen On TV Hat. Plug in your Ipod, Iphone or MP3 player, throw on this bulky transportable hat that covers your entire face, for a personal movie theater experience without any flare. Practical? Not quite sure. Fashionable? Not so much.

6) Mint Cleaning Robot
Leave it up to technology to do it all for us lazy folk. PCMag’s Lance Ulanoff sent me his awesome sighting, the Mint Cleaning Robot by Evolution Robotics. Just throw on a swiffer brand cloth, press a button and using navigation technology the cleaner will scan your floor for any dirt or dust.

7) Android Powered Microwave
Thanks to TechRepublic’s Editor In Chief, for turning me on to the Android Powered Microwave. No, this isn’t a gadget from the Jetsons. In plain English, the microwave created by TouchRevolution incorporates Google’s android operating system, so instead of you manually punching in times, you can open up an application that gives you presets for all of your cooking needs.

8) Zomm
We all suffer from misplacing our cell phones. Now there’s a new technology that makes sure we don’t fall victims to this unfortunate scenario again. Created by a busy mom, the Zomm acts like a leash for your phone. All you have to do is pair it with your cell over Bluetooth, attach it to your keychain, and every time you get more than 30 feet away it vibrates. You can also answer calls through the device and if you lose your keys, you can call the Zomm to activate its alarm. How convenient!

9) Kodak Playsport Video
It was only a matter of time before a consumer device came out to let us take videos underwater. For only $149, look no further than the new Kodak Playsport Video Camera to do just that. Now you can get wet and wild… on video!

10)Powermat
G4TV’s Kevin Pereira tweeted about his love for the Powermat: “Integrated batteries for devices means no add-on sleeves. Truly wireless/portable charging mat is also win.” It’s sleek but a bit pricey- $99.99 for the wired mat plus $40 for the charger.

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