TechSummit Rewind #005: January 5th, 2014

Editor’s Note: This is the TechSummit Rewind, which (usually) can be seen every Saturday right here.

Lenovo gives ‘portable’ all-in-ones another shot with 27-inch Horizon 2

Lenovo Horizon 2

In addition to announcing a slew of laptops, tablets and convertibles (more on that in a moment), Lenovo also unveiled a trio of Windows 8 all-in-ones at CES 2014. Of the bunch, the most notable might be the Horizon 2, which marks Lenovo’s second attempt at a “portable” 27-inch desktop. In particular, Lenovo added both NFC and a new way to pair the PC with an Android device: you can now shake your smartphone to share its media with the Horizon 2, causing photos and other content to “fall” onto the tabletop screen. From there, you can use motion controls on the smartphone to do things like navigate the UI and sort through photos, music tracks and the like. The wireless link between the two devices also lets you instantly browse fresh photos on the Horizon 2 once they are taken with the phone, as well as letting you throw PC content onto the phone.

Additionally, Lenovo built in some more multi-user games, along with enhanced Facebook integration so that you can upload photos directly to the site after editing them. All of which sounds completely reasonable: if someone’s meant to buy a 27-inch desktop meant for digital board games, they’d better be able to get the most out of the software experience.

Getting to the hardware, this version is also more compact than last year’s model. Granted, 16.8 pounds isn’t exactly portable, but still, a 12 percent weight reduction isn’t a small feat. Other changes include that though the standard screen resolution is still 1080p, you can now opt for a 2560×1440 panel instead.  also features the “latest NVIDIA graphics,” up to 8GB of RAM and up to 500GB of storage, though to be honest: you’re not buying this for the specs. You’re buying it for the suction-cup joysticks, which have stuck around (see what I did there) from the first generation.

Lenovo A740

In addition, Lenovo updated last year’s A730 with the A740. This, too, has a thin (4mm to be precise) frame, which can be pushed down so the screen lies flat. Now, though, there’s a 2560×1440 screen option, in addition to the standard 1080p (noticing a theme here?). Lenovo also stepped up to 802.11ac WiFi, with Intel Haswell processors, up to 8GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, NFC and an optional TV tuner rounding out the spec sheet.

Lenovo C560

Moving on, there’s the C560, which replaces last year’s C540. Available in black and white with a 23-inch screen, it’s clearest the low-end of the tabletop PC range, with a 1080p display, an optional touchscreen and processors that run the full range of Intel’s lives from Celeron to Pentium to Core i3, i5 and i7. Other specs include up to 8GB of RAM, up to a 2TB 7200RPM hard drive and optional NVIDIA GeForce 705A graphics with either 1GB or 2GB of VRAM. The C560 is available now for $659, while the Horizon 2 and A740 are both on sale now starting at $1,499.

Lenovo refreshes ThinkPad X1 Carbon with ‘adaptive’ keyboard, 2560×1440 screen option

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

A year and a half after Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon Ultrabook first went on sale, it still had a 1600×900 screen and a 2012-era Ivy Bridge processor. Thankfully, at CES 2014, Lenovo finally unveiled a refreshed model, and it brings about everything you’d expect from a modern machine, including a 2560×1440 screen option, Haswell processors and longer battery life (up to nine hours, according to Lenovo). If nine hours isn’t enough for you, the X1 Carbon makes use of Lenovo’s Rapid Charge tech, which promises an 80 percent charge in under a hour.

Oddly, Lenovo dared to mess with the keyboard — the main reason some folks have remained avid fans of the ThinkPad brand. Here, there’s an “adaptive” panel up top, with context-specific controls that only light up when needed. Thankfully, the layout otherwise didn’t change much, and the ubiquitous red TrackPoint is still there (so is the large buttonless trackpad, but you should be used to that by now). Aside from that top row of adaptive keys, it feels almost identical to the chiclet keyboard used on its predecessor. In fact, the redesigned keyboard looks cleaner and more modern than previous ThinkPads. The fingerprint scanner now sits flush with the keyboard lines, while the touchpad is now a flat plane, more in line with other Ultrabooks and simply more modern.

Elsewhere on the machine, Lenovo added NFC, voice commands (via pre-installed Dragon software) and gesture control, allowing you to swipe through presentation slides and the like by waving your hand.

On the performance front, this uses “IT-friendly” vPro Intel Haswell processors, going all the way up to Core i7. Other configuration options include up to 8GB of RAM, up to 512GB of solid-state storage and built-in 4G. Given that it’s a business-oriented machine, you can also expect TPM security, along with a fingerprint reader. Additionally, Lenovo says that the fan is 13 percent thinner — dust-resistant, even — though it’s unclear what impact, if any, this will have on operating noise.

As of the display, the X1 Carbon still comes standard with a 14-inch, non-touch 1600×900 screen, though there is that 2560×1440 panel, assuming you have the money to upgrade beyond the $1,299 starting price. And hey, if you choose the higher resolution, you can also upgrade to a touchscreen, with a minor drop in brightness (270 nits compared to the 300 on the non-touch model). The brighter model looks basically identical to the 2013 model. Adding a touch panel will naturally increase the weight as well. Without a touchscreen, the X1 Carbon weighs in at 2.8 pounds — similar to the last model, but still impressive for a 14-inch laptop. Go with a touch model, which will be sending the scale beyond the three-pound, but somehow, you should be able to deal. The X1 Carbon is available now.

Chevrolet debuts Corvette Performance Data Recorder to record audio, video, overlay telemetry

Chevrolet Corvette Performance Data Recorder

Chevrolet spent some time pre-CES 2014 demonstrating how it plans to offer Corvette owners a new instrument to hone their track skills: the Performance Data Recorder (PDR). The system, which was designed with British auto engineering company Cosworth, will begin shipping its 2015 Corvette Stingrays as a factory add-on. In the simplest sense, the PDR captures video with user-selectable levels of vehicle telemetry overlaid on the 720p output. In its most complex, the session data can be dissected by the included Cosworth Toolbox software on your PC.

The Performance Data Recorder consists of three main parts: audio and video recording, telemetry capture and an SD card slot in the glove compartment where the data is stored. The driver then selects one of four modes: Track, Sport, Touring or Performance and with the click of a button on the car’s eight-inch display, sets the start/finish line and begins recording the lapping session. Once started, the system starts grabbing info from a dedicated GPS receiver that captures data point five times more often than a traditional GPS, a 720p camera mounted at the top of the windshield begins recording and then hooks into the car’s Controller Area Network (CAN) for access to all the vehicle’s performance data. Track mode records the most metrics including speed, throttle position, brake force, rpm, g-force, lap time and even a location-based map. Once you come to a stop, you can quickly replay the video in-car or take it offline and examine every nuance of the drive on your desktop.

When loaded in Cosworth Toolbox, the data is superimposed on a Bing map of the track and can be compared to a reference lap in real time to help find where you’re losing precious seconds with corner traces, vehicle speed and cornering forces. Obviously, the PDR won’t sell Corvettes — they do that well by themselves– but for a novice or pro drive trying to improve their skills, it seems that Chevrolet has put together a compelling suite of tools.

LaCie Fuel brings 1TB of streaming storage to your Apple devices for $199

LaCie Fuel

You’re probably quite familiar with LaCie’s reputation for stellar storage devices, and at CES 2014, the outfit expanded its territory. The company has outed Fuel: a 1TB portable repository for that media library, offering wireless streaming to your Apple arsenal. With no internet connection required, Fuel acts as a WiFi hotspot for on-the-go streaming to iPads, iPhones and Macs (up to five devices or three HD streams at a time) while claiming 10 hours of battery life on its spec sheet. The peripheral is accessed just like an external drive and — as you might expect– allows file transfers without cords with Dropbox integration in tow. For times when you absolutely, positively, must have a cable, there’s a USB 3.0 port for handling those tasks. Streaming stored media on those mobile devices is sorted via the Seagate Media app and the unit plays nice with AirPlay-compatible devices and the Apple TV. In a spot with connectivity? Fuel will allow you to share it with that handful of gadgets as well. If all of that sounds too good to pass up, you can snag one now for $200.

Pure digs deeper into multi-room audio with higher-end Jongo and Evoke systems

Pure Jongo T4

Pure first set foot into the multi-room audio space at 2013’s CES with its frugal Jongo line; in 2014, the company targeted slightly more affluent listeners who would otherwise buy a Sonos product. Its $299 Tongo T4 speaker is reaching the US for the first time, and carries enough oomph at 50W to fill a living room.

Pure Evoke F4

The $229 Evoke F4, meanwhile, is the company’s first internet-savvy radio with Jongo support built in. There’s also a pair of big software upgrades on the way, including SiriusXM streaming for their subscribers and a developer kit for third-party app support. The T4, F4 and software are all available now.

Lenovo intros ThinkPad 8, an eight-inch tablet for business users

Lenovo ThinkPad 8
Lenovo ThinkPad 8 (Source: CBS Interactive)

You may have noticed, but eight-inch Android tablets are sort of becoming a thing now: Toshiba, Dell and Lenovo each have one (not including this one), and Acer is already on its second. Until now, they’ve all been aimed toward the general consumer, with low-end specs and equally low prices to match. Now, however, Lenovo is taking a different approach: The company has announced the ThinkPad 8, an eight-inch (obviously) business tablet with enough premium services that even regular shopper might be tempted. For starters, the 8.3-inch screen boasts a 1920×1200 display, whereas most of its rivals top out at 1280×800. Additionally, it sports an aluminum chassis, micro-HDMI port and optional 4G, all of which are pretty rare on eight-inch tablets (or budget tablets in general). Even the camera setup is slightly better, with eight-megapixel still shots and an accompanying flash, not that there’s ever high poes for imaging performance on tablets.

If anything, the only cost-cutting measure seems to be the omission of an active digitizer for pen support, which was included on last year’s ThinkPad Tablet 2, and is included on Dell’s less-expensive Venue 8 Pro. Otherwise, the performance should be on par with other Windows tablets: the ThinkPad 8 packs a quad-core Intel Z3770 Bay Trail processor, along with 2GB of RAM and up to 128GB of built-in storage. And with a rated battery life of eight hours, its runtime should also be similar to other eight-inch tablets. If that high-res screen does anything for you, the ThinkPad 8 is available now for $399 (without 4G of course). Here are our impressions:

Putting a 1080p display into an eight-inch tablet makes an awful lot of sense: it’s already in plenty of flagship smartphones half the size. It’s also a functional resolution, perfect for watching movies and other video content. The screen is bright with wide viewing angles, making it a clear improvement over other small Windows tablets. Those higher quality build materials also mean an all-around classier design as well: we were particularly shocked with the ThinkPad styling (including the same light-up dot on the ‘i’ in the ThinkPad logo). Sure, fingerprints were visible on the tablet’s satin finish, but Lenovo’s prior tablets weren’t nearly as slick — in fact, this feels as premium as the company’s flagship Ultrabooks.

As for performance, the Intel Bay Trail chip powering it was more than capable during our hands-on time, and it streamed video to connected monitors with no issue. It’s a tempting little Windows 8 tablet.

Lenovo unveils line of low-cost Miix 2 convertibles, refreshes its Flex, Y, Z series laptops

Lenovo Miix 2
Lenovo Miix 2

Well, this is confusing. After releasing the Miix 2, not the one referenced in the headline above but the eight-inch Windows tablet, Lenovo announced two more products called the Miix 2 at CES 2014, except these aren’t tablets, but rather, detachable laptops. True to their name, the Miix 2 10 and Miix 2 11 have 10.1- and 11.6-inch screens, respectively, and come with both a tablet and keyboard dock. In particular, you can insert the tablet with the screen facing either in or out — just like on last year’s ThinkPad Helix and the company’s growing Yoga line. Either way, you get a 1920×080 IPS display, an eight-hour battery, dual 5MP rear-facing/2MP front-facing cameras, optional 3G, a microSD slot, micro-HDMI port, JBL speakers and a full-sized USB port on the dock.

Aside from screen size, the biggest difference is in processing power: The 10-inch model users a low-power Intel Bay Trail processor with up to 128GB of storage, whereas the bigger guy packs a more powerful Core i5 chip. Also, that model goes up to 256 gigabytes of space, instead of 128. The Miix 2 10 is available now, starting at $499, while the 11-incher is available now for $699.



Lenovo Flex 14D
Lenovo Flex 14D

Additionally, Lenovo refreshed some of its existing laptops, including the Yoga-like “Flex” series, the powerhouse Y series and the multimedia Z line. Starting with the Flex 14D and 15D, these are basically the Flex 14 and 15, which can contort into many of the same arrangements as the Yoga, except they can’t fold all the way into tablet mode. The real difference between these and the existing models is that the 14D and 15D make use of quad-core AMD A6 chips and a 1GB AMD Radeon HD 8570 GPU — a move that allowed Lenovo to lower the starting price even further to $499. Those are shipping now.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y40, IdeaPad Y50
Lenovo IdeaPad Y40, Lenovo IdeaPad Y50

Moving on, the IdeaPad Y40 and Y50 replace the existing Y410p and 510p, respectively. Based on the spec sheet, at least, it seems that if you can deal with slightly less portable machine, you’ll get much better specs on the 15-inch model. For example, it’s offered with a 3840×2160 display and optional touchscreen, whereas the Y40 tops out at 1920×1080 and is exclusively non-touch. Further, the Y50 has a backlit keyboard option, while the 14-inch version doesn’t. The two will also have different graphics solutions — AMD for the Y40 and NVIDIA for the Y50 –but it’s hard to tell by brand name alone whether either model has an advantage. Either way, both with up to a Core i7 Haswell processor, up to 16GB of RAM and either a 512GB SSD or up to 1TB of hard drive space. They’re both available now for $999 and up.

Finally, the Z40 and Z50 bring slightly lesser specs at a much lower price. Both come standard with a 1366×768 screen, but can be configured with a 1080p panel. Additionally, both will be offered with up to a Core i7 processor, up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage space. Integrated graphics are standard, as you’d expect on a mid-range system, but you can get either machine with a NVIDIA 840M GPU if you so choose. These are available now, with prices starting at $599.

Sphero’s 2B smartphone-controlled toy is quick, easy to control, a lot of fun

Sphero 2B

The budget smartphone-controlled Sphero 2B rolled into CES Unveiled and retails for $100 — $60 less than Sphero 2.0’s current asking price. The company had a handful of models on site, and while all of them were prototypes, they worked well. It’s responsive and handles a lot better than its’ predecessor right out of the box, no doubt owing to the slightly more traditional form factor — that is, if you can use a word like “tradition” to refer to something like this.

Also, despite being a prototype, the 2B is pretty rugged. A Sphero representative said that the final version will likely have IR built-in, so multiple 2Bs can interact — and with the lower price point, it’ll be that much easier for people to pick up a couple of devices for their home. The final version will also have more lighting effects built-in. Those nub tires you see are removable, by the way, so you can customize your device. The company also showed off a 2B rocking smoother tires, which was even faster, with speeds of up to 14 feet a second. a fair bit zippier than the Sphero 2.0.

Kolibree is a smart toothbrush that shows you how clean your teeth are

Kolibree toothbrush
Kolibree toothbrush


One of the current technology trends is that inventors jam wireless radios in gadgets that you wouldn’t expect to find them. For instance, during CES Unveiled 2013, the HAPIfork, a smart fork that sent your eating speed to your phone in an attempt to get you to chew your food slower, became an unprecedented hit. Kolibree hopes to duplicate that with its connected toothbrush. Yes, connected toothbrush. Once you’ve cleaned your teeth like you usually do, the Kolibree pushes your stroke count to your smartphone, telling you if you did a good job and showing which parts of your gob still need some attention. Naturally, the company requested money over the summer, where you’ll be able to pick up a model priced somewhere between $100 and $200.

The device’s partners, Thomas Serval, is an ex-Googler who went back to hardware design after several years with the software giant, was inspired to build the device after getting tired of asking his children whether they’d brushed their teeth. Containing an accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope, the hardware builds a model of the inside of your mouth and then offers you a percentage score of how well you’ve done in keeping it clean. The model is built in two ways: firstly, when you get the device, you can calibrate the hardware by showing it around your gob, but also the company has a dentist-supplied list of measurements that help it understand the size of your mouse compared to your age and gender.

Hold the hardware in your hand thru hand and the prototype is surprisingly light, despite the built-in battery that is re-juiced on a wireless charging plate. It’ll push the data over Bluetooth to your smartphone or tablet, and you can monitor your family’s statistics with a league table that, hopefully, will encourage kids to out-do their parents. That same data can also be shared with your dentist, should you wish them to know how well (or not) you’ll doing in the oral hygiene stakes. Depending on the hardware you’re buying, an individual Kolibree will set you back between $100 and $200, but the company will offer discounts for family packs when it’s ready for public consumption.

NVIDIA announces Tegra K1 with 192 cores, Keplar architecture


In what’s becoming a yearly tradition, NVIDIA came to its CES press conference with tidings of its next-generation mobile processor which will begin gracing devices this year. The chipset maker officially announced Tegra K1, which features the first 192-core GPU based on the Kepler architecture which was originally designed for desktops and notebooks and later added to supercomputers. As you can imagine, NVIDIA is bringing its graphics chops to the new DirectX 11-powered GPU, and it packs a serious punch — so much so, in fact, that it will come with support for Unreal Engine 4 and OpenGL 4.4. In the company’s usual form, the chipmaker showed off demos of the new chip’s power compared side-by-side with a Tegra 4, and the difference is quite noticeable; the K1 offers real-time computing, global illumination, higher dynamic range and greater detail like reflective surfaces, dripping water and other realistic physically-based rendering.

Interestingly, Tegra K1 will actually come in two different versions: a 32-bit option with a 2.3GHz “4-plus-1” A15 CPU and a 64-bit unit with a 2.5GHz dual-core Denver CPU. NVIDIA representatives have said that the K1 has already been certified by AT&T and Vodafone, among other carriers, and devices with the new chipset are available now. We also learned that although LTE support doesn’t come natively on the chipset, it’ll still be available thanks to an external chip that will be part of the K1 setup. It’s hard to say whether or not this will help NVIDIA gain some lost ground on Qualcomm, but only time will tell.

Addition of Unreal Engine 4 support

The latest iteration of the Unreal Engine, Unreal Engine 4, is adding support for NVIDIA’s latest Tegra chip, the K1. Epic Games’ ubiquitous engine powered much of the last-generation’s games with Unreal Engine 3, and Epic’s promising even more with the next generation.

With Unreal Engine 3, Infinity Blade was the first mobile game running on the engine — demonstrates on-stage during an Apple keynote showcasing a new iPad. Unreal Engine 4, however, scales both up and down right out of the gate, apparently, according to Epic Games head Tim Sweeney:

“We can take absolutely anything that runs on PC or high-end consoles and run it on Tegra…I didn’t think that we’d be at this level on mobile for another three to four years.”

Chevrolet and OnStar announce in-car 4G LTE connectivity, curated AppShop

OnStar AppShop
OnStar AppShop

Chevrolet, AT&T and OnStar banded together at CES 2014 to offer a glimpse of the heart of the Connected by OnStar 4G LTE infotainment offering: AppShop. The new service will feature a curated collection of HTML5 apps — meaning that if you’re driving in the sticks and are out of cell range, your apps mostly won’t work — focused on music, weather, news and vehicle telematics all connected via AT&T’s LTE network. All cars that include the OnStar 4G LTE service will also feature a WiFI access point built into the car with support for up to seven devices — taking advantage of the same AT&T LTE link, though there’s no word on the data service’s pricing.

We took a peek at an AppShop-equipped Impala and were most impressed with its Vehicle Health app, which shows any issues with your car from “oil health” to tire pressures. Think of it as a usable replacement for the “Check Engine” light seen on most car’s dashboards, but rather than simply blinking orange it translates the error into something a tad more user friendly. Aside from car health and warnings the app enables the driver to schedule an appointment for service without having to pick up the phone. For example, by simply selecting your preferred dealership and then clicking on a date in the calendar-like display you’re then presented with AM or PM time slots, and available time in either. Chevrolet’s AppShop will initially be offered in its Canadian and US MyLink-equipped 2015 model-year Corvette, Impala, Equinox, Volt, Malibu, Silverado and Silverado HD.

Cobra Electronics demos power pack that can jump-start your car

Cobra Electronics CPP 750 JumPack
Cobra Electronics CPP 750 JumPack

Cobra Electronics is a big player in the automotive way, largely thanks to its line of radar detectors. What a lot of people don’t know, however, is that the company has also been dabbling with products that jump-start your car. At this year’s CES, Cobra introduced the JumPack, which it says is a game-changing device for jump-starting — an odd-sounding statement, but we have to agree. The 7,500-mAh portable JumPack (model number: CPP 7500) looks suspiciously like your run-of-the-mill external smartphone/tablet charger, and it’s the smallest jump-start power pack we’ve come across. It features a 200A starting current and gets up to a peak current of 400A, which is enough to give your car’s battery a few jumps — given that it only takes three to four hours to recharge, it should be more than enough to manage those unfortunate situations in a lonely parking lot. It also comes with a built-in flashlight as well as USB output (2.1A) in case you want to give your smartphone a power boost. It’s available now for $130.

Lenovo trots out a 4K Android-powered all-in-one, with a standalone monitor to match

Lenovo N308
Lenovo N308

So Lenovo announced a whole bunch of all-in-ones at CES 2014, you say? You’ll have to be a little more specific than that. In addition to unveiling a trio of Windows-based models, the company announced two more than run Android. These include the consumer-friendly N308 (pictured above) and the ThinkVision 28, a 4K machine destined for the workplace (pictured below). Starting with the consumer model (this is the Consumer Electronics Show, after all), it costs a reasonable $450 and, accordingly, comes with some fairly middling specs — notably, a 19-inch, 1600×900 display and a spinning hard drive with up to 500GB of storage. That big display aside, you’re basically looking at an oversized tablet, with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean installed and a quad-core Tegra 4 SoC running the show. Like other all-in-ones Lenovo’s released, this one’s portable with a battery rated for three hours. At 10 pounds, though, give or take, it’s actually a good deal lighter than the other portable desktop Lenovo announced that we mentioned earlier.

Lenovo ThinkVision 28
Lenovo Thinkvision 28

As for the ThinkVision model, it’s crowned by a 28-inch, 2840×2160 display, allowing you to poke 3 Jelly Bean at at a screen density of 157 pixels per inch. Note that the OS interface is actually upscaled from a 1080p resolution, but 4K content is played at its native resolution. Additionally, the machine uses NFC and a “tap to connect” feature to pair devices, though you could also hook them up using one of the four USB ports, three HDMI sockets or the micro-USB connection.

Lenovo Thinkvision Pro2840M
Lenovo Thinkvision Pro2840M

Want the same screen quality, but can do without NFC and Tegra guts? Lenovo is also selling the ThinkVision Pro2840, which has a smaller 28-inch, 3840×2160 display (and a less flexible design). As it turns out, the monitor arrived first in April for $799. The ThinkVision 28 followed in July, with prices starting at $1,199.

Lenovo’s Beacon media hub can house up to 6TB of video, photos; streams to PCs and Android devices

Lenovo Beacon
Lenovo Beacon

Lenovo makes a lot of laptops and tablets, as well as a few phones. But amid its exhaustive PC range, there’s also the eye-catching Beacon. Priced at $199, although lacking any storage out of the box, it tries to strike a balance between personal cloud storage and media server. It comes preloaded with XBMC, while dual HDD bays will support up to a hefty 6TB of storage. The Beacon, powered by an unspecified dual-core Intel Atom processor, can then stream whatever you put inside it to multiple devices at once — it managed to output to both a PC and Android device without a hiccup. You can use your handheld smart device as a remote, which makes digging through piles of photos and videos at least semi easier.

On the back, alongside HDMI, there’s Ethernet and twin USB ports, meaning it’ll be happy to link up to PCs and TVs for viewing on the big screen. Once linked to the respective app, pictures and videos captured on your phone can be automatically (or manually) uploaded. As you can see, it’s also not the typically unassuming (dull) storage hub either and is available in orange, blue, gray and black finishes for $199.

Mother is a WiFi-enabled Russian Doll that wants to replace your mother

Mother Russian doll
Mother Russian doll

When doom-mongers pretend that technology is destroying human relationships, plenty of them will use this as exhibit one. Mother is the brainchild of Rafi Haladjian, the mastermind behind the Nabaztag, and is a device designed to monitor the objects, creatures and people in your home. The white plastic Russian Doll connects to a series of sensors, called cookies, that measure motion and temperature, and will alert you when it notices a change. For instance, if you strapped a cookie to the door where your medications are kept, but one day forgot to open it when you were due, the device would nag you until you got annoyed to the point where you do it “just to just get it done so you can shut the d*mn thing up” or until you remembered (just like your actual, biological mother).

Of course, that’s a reasonable simple example, and the company has cooked up 14 different ways in which the cookies can be used to monitor your home. Another example is if you strapped a cookie to your door, Mother will send an alert and make a noise every time it’s opened — which is useful when you’re on vacation and are worried about unwanted intruders. Speaking of which, the cookies themselves can be used for up to a year before you have to replace them and you can connect up to 24 at a time — but be warned, buying and replacing those things is a little pricey, as it’s $99 for a set of four. The Mother hardware bares a resemblance to Eve from Disney’s Wall-E, although its facial expressions are limited to blinking to show that its connecting to WiFI. It’s available now, with one Mother and four cookies retailing for $222.

Griffin updates its PowerMate and StudioConnect hardware for 2014

Griffin PowerMate Bluetooth
Griffin PowerMate Bluetooth

If you think that the best part about making music is twiddling the knobs, than Griffin and you are on the same page, at least if their announcements at CES 2014 are any indication. The company updated both its StudioConnect portable iPad studio and the PowerMate jog dial for movie and music editors. The StudioConnect HD now features a pair of XLR inputs, USB and five-pin MIDI support, dedicated monitor controls and can handle both 30-pin and Lightning-based iPads.

The PowerMate Bluetooth, obviously given its name, breaks free from the restrictions of cables, offering iMovie and GarageBand users the chance to cycle through files without having to use a mouse. Naturally, the clickable wheel is also highly customizable, enabling you to craft a wide variety of utilities that can use the hardware. The StudioConnect HD will set you back $200, while the PowerMate is priced at $60.

Evernote CEO Libin pledges to refocus on core features; fix buggy, confusing apps

Evernote's Redwood City, CA office
Evernote’s Redwood City, CA office

As a student and content creator, I would personally be lost without my Evernote account. It’s understandable that it’s simply painful when the service lets us (the users) down by failing to sync notes or falling prey to hackers. Jason Kincaid posted a lengthy tirade on his blog about such an instance, in which the iOS app produced corrupted audio notes that were completely unplayable. During the troubleshooting session with the company’s support, Kincaid came across a bug that captured entire notes in plain text in its log files — the very files that a support person request when trying to diagnose a problem.

That post caught the attention of Phil Libin, Evernote’s head honcho, who admitted that the company perhaps focused too much on adding features and expanding its user base while sacrificing the core experience. But Libin proclaimed those days as being over. In fact, the Evernote team quietly shifted its focus back to squashing bugs and improving stability a couple of months ago, but that there was still plenty of work to be done, according to CEO Libin. In addition to boosting performance and fixing broken features, updates rolled out that aimed to greatly improve and simplify the user experience. The company specifically would be targeting note editing, navigation, search, sync and collaboration features across all platforms.

Liquid Image brings LTE to the action camera market with its Ego LS

Liquid Image Ego LS
Liquid Image Ego LS

Snowy mountaintops and sheer dirt tracks are a couple of locations fitting for an epic action cam recording session, but they’re not exactly the first places you think of when trying to get a good WiFi connection (or one at all, for that matter.) Without putting extra hardware at a significant risk of damage or destruction, livestream just isn’t possible in many of these desirable situations. Liquid Image aims to change that with the CES 2014 unveiling of its Ego LS camera, which features LTE connectivity. It’s capable of transmitting 400×240 WQVGA video at 30fps for up to two hours, or still images over 4G. Otherwise the eight-megapixel camera has WiFi,

Bluetooth, and can partner with iOS and Android devices via the Liquid Image app like the company’s other models. A microSD slot capable with microSD cards with up to 64GB of storage keeps you recording at 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps in those (admittedly rare) times you’re disconnected, and like other members of the Ego line, it’ll be accompanied by various mounts. Two variants of the Ego LS, both with motion detection and continuous photo modes, but one with LTE and one without, are available now for $200.

LaCie partners with Christofle on silver-plated limited-edition Sphère hard drive

LaCie & Christofle Sphere
LaCie & Christofle Sphere

At CES 2013, LaCie unveiled the Philippe Starck-designed Blade Runner to grab the attention of those who prefer their storage gadgets to be on the “holy s**t, that’s a hard drive” side of the range. This year, the outfit teamed with French silversmith Christofle on Sphère. The globe-influenced external hard drive is silver-plated (as you can probably tell by the outfit LaCie partnered with) and touts 1TB of storage. File transfers are sorted via a USB 3.0 connection that just happens to double as the device’s power supply. Just like its predecessor, the Sphère is going to be in short supply and has a price tag to match at $490, in case you want to get some heads turning at your workstation.

Despite what appears to be a weighty silver shell, the drive is quite light. The shiny exterior may double as a mirror in extreme circumstances, but it’s prone to being mucked up with fingerprints quickly (which is an absolute shame). Aside from the branding inscriptions on the front and the iconic blue light, there aren’t any other details aside for the aforementioned USB 3.0 cable slot around back on the unit’s black base. Of course, less is more here.

Dish Network pulls a Time Warner Cable with Virtual Joey streaming app for smart TVs that take the place of a set-top box

Dish Network Virtual Joey
Dish Network Virtual Joey

Let’s take a trip down memory lane (after all, this is a year-in-review recap). Back at CES 2012, Dish Network announced a whole-home DVR setup, including the Hopper DVR (you know with the kangaroo) and a multi-room extender, called the Joey. (Clearly there’s been some sort of kangaroo obsession at Dish Network’s headquarters). Then, at CES 2013 last year, Dish introduced a version of the Hopper with Sling built in, allowing you to send both live and recorded programming to your smartphone, tablet or laptop. That brings us to CES 2014, when Dish turned its attention back to the Joey line of boxes except, well, the hardware kinda was the victim of a disappearing act.

The pay-TV operator announced the Virtual Joey, a smart TV app that will come built into select LG televisions, and which will take the place of a physical Joey extender. To be completely clear, this isn’t a ditching of the cable/satellite box. You’ll still need a Hopper DVR to serve as the base of the whole experience, but this is one less box to deal with in your entertainment center. According to company representatives, the app will come to 2013 and 2014 LG smart TVs, though it’s working to get the app on other manufacturers’ televisions as well.

Withings’ latest health gadget wants to help you sleep

Withings Aura
Withings Aura

If you’re anything like me, getting up in the morning isn’t exactly the greatest experience in the world. Plenty of gadgets have promised to monitor our circadian rhythms and rouse us when our body’s biologically ready like the Zeo and most FitBits. That hasn’t deterred Withings from jumping in with the Aura, a two-part device designed to help us catch some shut-eye. The $300 device combines a movement sensor that sits beneath your mattress and an LED lamp that aims to relax you at night and gently rouse you in the morning. The unit also promises custom light and sound patterns that’ll help with power napping, getting over jet lag or chilling out with a good book. Naturally, all of this data will be fed into a mobile app, and I’m personally looking forward to seeing how this compares to the Philips Wake-up Light.

The sleep sensor is designed to sit underneath your mattress and monitor your breathing, heart rate and monitor in order to better understand the way your sleep. It’s connected via USB rather than wirelessly, with the cable draping over the side of your bed and onto the lamp, which should sit atop your bedside table. While you’d assume that the Aura was a singleton-only deal, there are three USB ports, two of which can be used for the sleep sensors, which enables couples to get the benefit. Assuming, of course, that their lifestyles are relatively similar.

In our eyes, we assumed the lamp was very much a Philips Wake Up Light clone, but unlike that hardware, this unit doesn’t even attempt to simulate daylight to help you get out of bed. Instead, when sending you to sleep, it pumps out a glowing orange — similar to a low summer sunset — designed to promote your melatonin, and a neon blue is used to banish that same chemical in the morning. Accompanied by a variety of pre-programmed sounds that are designed to aid the process, like nature sounds or classical music. In addition to replacing your bedside light and alarm clock, the lamp has designs on the rest of your normal bedside gadgets. The third USB port, for instance, can be used to charge your smartphone, the mono speaker will as a mono Bluetooth speaker, and if you’re wealthy enough to own two, you can use A2DP to get stereo sound.

The lamp’s top and sides will recognize touch inputs, with a long press activating the reading light and a stroke along the side setting the alarm — but most controls will be kept for the mobile app. If you’re already baked into the company’s ecosystem, the data will also update into the Health Mate app, although there’s no plans for unification just yet. While the $300 retail unit, will only contain one bed sensor, units for your other half are available to buy from the company’s website for $129 now.

HTC boosted by Beats Electronics sale but notches second consecutive operating loss

HTC's Taipei headquarters
HTC’s Taipei headquarters

HTC posted another $52 million loss, but managed a small net profit of $10.3 million. Though the Taiwanese company trimmed the previous quarter’s operating loss of $101 million, total revenue actually fell slightly to $1.6 billion. That marks the ninth consecutive quarterly drop in sales, according to Bloomberg, despite the recent addition of the HTC One Max to its device lineup. Unfortunately, the company’s had to deal with a few outside setbacks, including sales bans and patent setbacks, which aren’t helping the declining interest in its handsets.

Schwinn’s CycleNav bike navigation system points cyclists in the right direction

Schwinn CycleNav
Schwinn CycleNav

When you’re in a car, it’s relatively easy to keep an eye on your GPS without moving your hands away from the good ol’ 10 and 2 positions, but how do you get from point A to point B when you’re on your bike? Schwinn’s CycleNav bike navigation system wants to answer that question. The $60 Bluetooth device clips onto your bike’s handlebar. The premise is simple: Download the product’s iOS or Android app, enter in where you want to go, choose the best route and then let the CycleNav point which way to go, using one of three LED arrows. After your journey comes to an end, the app records fitness stats for you to track (such as distance, calories burned and duration). Fortunately, it doubles as a headlight for your bicycle as well. The navigator is available online and at Walmart for the aforementioned price now.

Caterpillar’s bringing feature phones back with the super-rugged B100

Caterpillar B100 feature phone
Caterpillar B100 feature phone

If the first thing you said when you saw the header above was, “Seriously a feature phone! What is this, 2000?,” I think we might become good friends. But still, it’s pretty cool as far as things go. Granted, though, the Cat B100 wants you to go back to that pre-smartphone mindset (No touchscreen and a keypad? I can’t believe this!) Like its older B15 sibling, the B100 is as rugged as you’d expect for a device bearing the Caterpillar logo and its signature black-and-yellow bumblebee color scheme. The B100 feels solid thanks to its metal sides. The phone can sustain a drop up to 1.8 meters (5.9 feet), and thanks to covered ports, can survive being submerged in one meter (3.3 feet) for half an hour.

In place of the 15’s touchscreen is a large-button keyboard, which you should theoretically be able to operate while wearing work gloves on the job. On the rear is a three-megapixel camera and flash, along with a large speaker — or you can open up the headphone jack located on top of the phone. In terms of availability, we know that it’s available now in Germany and other parts of Europe, though a representative assured that there’ll be more news on that front later on in the year. We’ll have it here.

Sculpteo makes factory-like 3D printing much easier with Batch Control option


If you’re in need for more than a few 3D-printed parts for your next project or business venture, Sculpteo has a production method that’ll help you bring home the bacon. The company has just announced 3D-printing Batch Control to output as many figurines, drone parts or whatever you might need. Using Sculpteo’s software, customers can view the order inside the printer, compare pricing in real time and control both axis and orientation all while nabbing multiple units in a single batch. As far as customization goes, 11 coloirs, three finishes and two resolutions are offered for orders in an effort to cut production costs, allow for limited editions and more — like 168 pigs, for example. While the 3D-printed items displayed at CES were connected in cube form, orders don’t arrive that way by default, but it sure does make for easier transport.

Seagate’s Backup Plus line extends with Slim, Fast and desktop external drives for file storage

Seagate Backup Plus Fast
Seagate Backup Plus Fast

Seagate’s Backup Plus line has been familiar for some time now, and the company has announced three new offerings under that moniker at CES. The storage outfit has pulled the wraps off the Backup Plus Slim, Fast and desktop external hard drives, living up to each of those names with both automatic and scheduled backups. First, Fast is being touted as the first 4TB portable drive with dual 2TB drives in RAID 0. The unit is bus-powered at the hands of its USB 3.0 connection and claims speeds of 220 MB/s with a metal-topped plastic enclosure. It’s available now for $300.

Seagate Backup Plus Slim
Seagate Backup Plus Slim

Next, the Backup Plus Slim has been labeled by Seagate as the slimmest (12.1mm, to be accurate) portable drive on the market with 500GB, 1TB and 2TB versions. This options is also powered by USB 3.0 transfers and sports the same plastic shell with a solid aluminum top. If color coordination is your thing, black, silver, red and blue paint schemes is available now for prices ranging between $100 and $180, depending on the storage configuration you choose.

Seagate Backup Plus Desktop
Seagate Backup Plus Desktop

Last but not least, for those who don’t mind keeping their storage repositories at a workstation, the Backup Plus desktop serves up 2TB, 3TB and 4TB capacities inside a metal housing. This option is larger than the other two, as its meant to be left at home rather than stuffed in a jacket pocket. Pricing for the trio has been set at $130, $160 and $260, respectively, and is available now.

In addition to the new hardware, Seagate has also updated its Dashboard app that’s used with all of its Backup drives. The software still acts as a PC backup and allows for social sharing, but this time around, mobile device backup has been adding. Apps that take advantage of the update are available now for both iOS and Android, however the Apple supporting version will only back up the Camera Roll. The option for Google’s mobile OS protects videos, contacts, messages and your call log in addition to pictures in case of a gadget failure.

Belkin announces remote-controllable slow cooker, smart LED light bulbs

Belkin CrockPot WeMo slow cooker
Belkin CrockPot WeMo slow cooker

Last year, Belkin announced a partnership with Jarden (the company behind beloved brands like Mr. Coffee, Sunbeam and Crock-Pot), promising we’d eventually see kitchen appliances with Belkin’s WeMo home automation controls built in. Fast forward a year later, and Belkin has a real product to show for it: The company announced the Crock-Pot WeMo Slow Cooker (if that’s not a name, I’m not sure what is). Being a smart product and all, you can use the WeMo app for iOS or Android to remotely turn it on or off, adjust the temperature or change the time settings. You can also receive reminders so that you don’t let it sit too long. It’s available now for $100, with an air purifier, space heater and coffee maker to follow.

Additionally, Belkin introduced the WeMo Smart LED Bulb, a dimmable light that can be controlled remotely using the same WeMo app you’d use to control the aforementioned CrockPot. In particular, you can control the bulbs individually or in groups, and also set them to dim as you sleep and wake up. To get your hands on it, you’ll need to shell out $130 for the starter kit, which includes two 60W equivalent bulbs and a bridge that plugs into an outlet. Thereafter, the lights cost $40 apiece and are said to last up to 23 years. Also, the bridge can connect to up to 50 bulbs, so odds are you’ll never have to buy another. Last up, there’s the WeMo Maker kit, which lets modders manage anything with a simple DC switch — gates, garage doors, blinds, AC units, and anything else you think of. That is also available now for $79.99.

Wrapping all this together is an improved mobile app, which lets you control all your WeMo home-automated devices remotely. New in this edition is the ability to simulate occupancy, Home Alone-style, so that the lights come on at a certain time, making it seem like someone’s home. If you’re hip to the ways of If This Then That (IFTTT), you can set your lights to go on every night at sunset and turn off every day at sunrise — with that time changing as the days get shorter and longer. If you already own some WeMo gear, you’ll have to download the app update, but it’s available now for those that are new to the WeMo line.

Apple buys SnappyLabs to improve high-speed iPhone photography

Snappycam iOS app
SnappyCam iOS app

The iPhone 5s can already capture photos at a brisk 10 frames per second, but that’s apparently not enough for Apple. The company has confirmed that it has acquired SnappyLabs, a one-man outfit best known for its popular iOS camera app SnappyCam. Cupertino hasn’t outlined its plans following the buyout, but the software’s party trick is its extremely high-speed photography; it takes full-resolution shots at up to 30fps, and scales up to 60fps. You don’t need an oracle-like insight to predict that insight that future Apple devices could snap pictures at a rate that would put many professional cameras to shame.

InAir Smart HDMI adapter overlays Web atop television content with custom user interface

InAir Smart HDMI adapter
InAir Smart HDMI adapter

Televisions are no longer simply screens for viewing DVDs, Blu-rays and terrestrial television: Folks want to have the internet on them, too. SeeSpace is a startup building the InAir Smart HDMI adapter that plugs in-line between your set-top box and TV to deliver web content to the big screen. The system then overlays an intelligent layer atop your video feed that analyzes what you’re watching and supplies relevant web and social content as well. InAir’s UI is controlled by a companion app for both iOS and Android that turns your phone or tablet into a trackpad that lets you navigate by swiping and scrolling on the screen. Additionally, interested developers can use an API to build new features for the platform. The InAir adapter is available now for $99.

Samsung’s SmartCam HD DIY security cameras capture 1080p video indoors or out

Samsung SmartCam HD DIY security camera
Samsung SmartCam HD DIY security camera

Just in case the NSA isn’t keeping a close enough watch over everything, you can use Samsung Teckwin’s latest SmartCams to do your own surveillance. The SmartCam separates from its competitors by recording 1080p video to an internal SD card, and has a version designed to work outside. That means that unlike Dropcam, for example, it’s not constantly uploading video to a remote server for storage and doesn’t require an add-on subscription to work. While that cuts out some of the cloud-based security Dropcam can offer, it combines with Samsung’s compression tech to enable these to use about 30 percent of the bandwidth other cameras require, and still lets owners tap in remotely for a peek whenever they like.

Both connect over WiFi, and can be configured from Android or iOS devices using the SmartCam app and WiFi Direct. Both claim excellent low-light video quality, and while the indoor version has a range of about 16 feet, the outdoor version extends to 50 feet. Beyond its extra viewing range, the outdoor version is ruggedized for the elements, and comes in two parts, keeping the power and WiFi module securely inside your home, connected to the camera outside via a network cable. The SmartCam HD and SmartCam HD Outdoor are both available now for $179 and $229, respectively.

Tao WellShell offers up isometric resistance, tracks fitness, rhymes

Tao Wellshell
Tao Wellshell

It’s safe to say that this is the year of the wearable. Tao Wellness’ rhyming WellShell wants to be a bit of a one-stop shop for all things portable fitness. The handheld’s primary function is isometrics– offering you resistance as you work out, while helpfully coaching ou with built-in audible encouragement. The device is built for 50 different isometric exercises, recording results by way of your Android or iOS device. It can also track your steps, caloric intake, heart rate and sleep patterns — so pretty much everything, but the cooldown massage.

It looks like a flat, symmetrical mouse — minus the cable. After giving it a squeeze (you’re supposed to), as well as testing out a pair of earlier models that avoid the screen of the functionality). Instead, these flat tokens are actually more stylish and simple, with a glowing light in the center. However, with these smaller models, all the data and exercise instruction is delivered by the app, meaning that while the new WellShell it might just lose out in the looks, the new model looks to offer a far gentler learning curve.

Wellograph activity tracker has good looks, fun graphs

Wellograph smartwatch
Wellograph activity tracker

One of the latest entrants to the crowded wearable market is the Wellograph activity tracker, which is one of the few trackers you might actually want to wear on a night out. The activity tracker, which features a sapphire crystal display, features a heart rate monitor and an activity tracker, in addition to being (wait for it) a standalone device, with no smartphone integration to speak of beyond syncing with Bluetooth 4.0.

The Wellograph stands out from other activity trackers by displaying information such as steps taken and heartbeats per minute in graph form (rather than simply displaying digits), according to Wellograph CEO Sarasin Art Booppanon. Another distinguishing feature is the sapphire crystal display, which is allegedly the first to appear on a consumer product at a price point that won’t absolutely obliterate your wallet. This type of screen is known for being scratch resistant, and while that’s not something that could be put to the test at CES Unveiled, it looked and felt pretty sturdy.

You’d expect a fitness-focused device to look rugged (even clunky) but the Wellograph is the exception to the rule (or expectation, in this case). It’s leather strap and stainless steel design screen dollar signs, and I’m thrilled that Wellograph took a sophisticated approach. It’s a nice change from the more utilitarian designs we’ve seen, but it’s not exactly unisex.; the timepiece looked a tad bit ridiculous on female wrists.

The Wellograph features a 168×144 e-paper LCD screen, and visibility was limited with strong overhead light by our findings. To navigate the interface, you press one of the two buttons on the device’s right side: the top one to toggle pages within a certain features (think: clock or fitness stats) and the bottom to move between the different features. It’s simple but engaging, especially because they’re more interactive that what’s been seen on other activity trackers. You can see your fitness level and your fitness age, pinpointed on a bell curve, for example. The activity tracker slides into a magnetic charging dock via a connector on the back — the rear end of the Wellograph, incidentally, is also where you’ll find the heart rate sensor.

The Wellograph is available now for about $300, according to Booppanon.

PrioVR full-body mocap suit promises accurate motion tracking in VR gaming


Sure, the last generation console motion tracking race (Xbox 360’s Kinect; Playstation 3’s Move) did a great job of bringing motion tracking closer to the mainstream, but it hasn’t exactly fulfilled the dreams of futuristic gaming that Hollywood (and our imaginations, frankly) promised. PrioVR, a motion-tracking suit meant for virtual reality games, aims to bring us to take that next big step to that point with accurate full-body motion-capture abilities without a camera array in the mix.

The demo was pretty impressive: A representative was decked out in the upper-body suit, complete with Wii nunchuks, playing a first-person shooter. Sensors on his chest, back, head arms and hands translated his movements to the screen with little latency, showing up on the display in a fraction of a second. However, there was an ever-so-slight choppiness — which could be blamed more on the game engine than the hardware — but it remains to be seen how much of an effect this has on gameplay. Though only a upper-body rig was being shown off at CES, a full-body getup promises to capture everything from walking to kicking.

YEI Technology, PrioVR’s parent company, originally launched a Kickstarter effort during late 2013, but after only raising $111,237 of its $225,000 funding goal, the firm’s giving the prototype another go, with a new campaign. The upper-body suit will go for about $300, while the full-body version will come in under $400. Obviously, this type of technology opens up a world of possibilities for developers, especially when paired with products with the likes of the Oculus Rift and other head-mounted displays.

Qualcomm shows more of the Snapdragon 805’s camera, pin tricks

Qualcomm Snapdragon 805
Qualcomm Snapdragon 805

Even if you couldn’t make it to CES to see the Snapdragon 805 processor flex its muscles, the chipmaker’s got you covered. Qualcomm has posted a slew of videos showing what the chip can do for photography, including automatic close-ups through OptiZoom, continuous focusing on a subject through Touch to Track and natural-looking low-light shots through Chroma Flash. The CPU can even begin recording video as soon as a subject crosses a line, such as at a race. As a bonus, the company has also showed off Ultra Sound NotePad, a refinement of an earlier technique that uses microphones to translate a pen’s ultrasonic vibrations into handwriting on screen. It could be a while before any of these features make it to a shipping device, but that’s what makes CES so exciting every year; it’s an opportunity for companies to think about the bigger picture. The clips embedded below should give you a feel for the real thing.

Parrot’s MiniDrone climbs walls, rolls around the ceiling, is really, really small

Parrot MiniDrone
Parrot MiniDrone

Parrot’s been offering up relatively small updates to its AR.Drone line each year at CES, and while the quadcopter is, without question, the iPad of this space, it’s about time we see a genuinely fresh take on the product. The MiniDrone delivers on that expectation — and then some. It’s exceptionally small and light, so far as consumer drones go. It’s quick, nimble and fairly user-friendly thanks to on-board autopilot and myriad built-in sensors, controlled via a smartphone or tablet via low energy Bluetooth.

Other than the size, the coolest thing about the product may be the removable wheels, which let you drive the MiniDrone across the ceiling and up walls. And if the demos we got at CES Unveiled event are any indication, the little drone’s looks are deceiving, at least on the ruggedness front. The MiniDrone is available now for $159.99.

Okidokeys smart locks let you manage your front door remotely

Okidokeys smart lock
Okidokeys smart lock

There are goofy product names, and then there’s Okidokeys, a moniker that might very well has been awarded the goofiest product name of CES 2014 (which is a stellar achievement, if you ask me). All jokes aside, however, the company is taking its line of smart locks seriously. Its parent company, OpenWays Group, already is looking to provide smartphone-based door lock solutions to hotels. The company’s leveraging the 256-bit AES cryptology security it’s used in those products to Okidokeys, home locks that can be controlled with an Android or iOS device via Bluetooth. There seems to be a pretty wide array of options here, letting you enable a hands-free unlock when you’re near the door or associating objects like an RFID card, in case your smartphone should run out of battery power before you get to the door. Using the company’s website, you can manage accounts, giving people limited access to the door so, for example, your babysitter can only get in during designated times, and if anyone tries to break in, you’ll get an alert on your phone. You can also unlock the door from afar, should someone forget their key. The line of locks are available now starting at $179.

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2 wields dual 500GB SSDs, Intel’s latest port tech

LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2
LaCie Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2

When Intel officially launched Thunderbolt 2 in June 2013, it promised that we’d see devices sporting those blazing-fast speeds soon. It seems LaCie was one outfit willing to pick up the baton to embrace the tech as the storage company has announced the Little Big 2. The successor to the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt, version 2.0 touts transfer speeds of 1375 MB/s, thanks to Intel’s Thunderbolt 2 port (naturally), and a new all-black paint scheme on its aluminum shell. Inside, two 500GB PCIe Gen 2 SSDs in RAID 0 format can wrangle 4K and 3D video edits — power that should property arm creatives that demand a little bit more (just a little more) than the average consumer. That interior space has also been designed to properly handle heat distribution so that the virtually silent, thermoregulated fan needs to only kick on every now and then. The storage gadget is available now for $1299.

During our demo time with the Little Big Disk Thunderbolt 2, we observed write speeds of 1200MB/s and read marks at 1300 MB/s — which translates to transferring a 300GB file in about four minutes. Thankfully, the drives were set up before the demo, and were sorting files for some time, remained at nearly room temperature. With two of the Thunderbolt 2 drives setup in RAID 0, we witnessed 2000MB/s write speeds and read numbers of 2600 MB/s. Although the front plate of the new unit is glossy, the entire enclosure is still made of metal and the black paint job looks quite nice beside a new 2013 Mac Pro.

Moneual’s RYDIS H68 Pro robot aims to replace both your Roomba and Scooba

Moneual Rydis H68 Pro
Moneual RYDIS H68 Pro

Why would you drop the cash for both a Roomba and Scooba when you can get a device that does both? Of course, it’s still early to tell whether the RYDIS H68 Pro can match (or come anywhere close to) the efficiency of either of iRobot’s flagship lines, but Moneual certainly is winning some convenience points here. The sequel to the RYDIS H67 features a large water tank, and is capable of capturing nearly all particles that are 0.3 micron or larger. There are 42 omnidirectional sensors on board and it uses Smart Vision Mapping to determine the best routes to cover a room as it mops and vacuums at the same time. The RYDIS H68 Pro is available now.

Eton’s ruxus Xtreme is a solar-powered Bluetooth speaker that loves the great outdoors

Eton ruxus Xtreme
Eton ruxus Xtreme

Eton has a bit of a thing for music combined with solar power. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Its latest eco-powered music machine is the ruxus Xtreme, and blast potentially non-stop jams (as long as you have a Sun to power your jam session) to the great outdoors. The Bluetooth 4.0 device has five speakers (two main, the rest for “bass radiating”) and has a built-in 6600mAh battery that can be charged either by Mother Nature (in about five hours), or the Ol’ Reliable power outlet (in three). No matter which way the ruxus Xtreme gets its juice, you can use it for prolonged listening, or use the speaker’s battery to power up your mobile device — so it could also be called a solar charger. There’s NFC for easy pairing, and you can even link up two units for what we imagine Eton is looking to trademark as Xtreme loudness. The IPX4 water-resistance rating also makes it good for those who like to jam in the rain (or snow) is ready to soak up some Vitamin D now for $230. There’s also a rugged rukus II model for $130, if you’re willing to sacrifice some battery life (1600mAh instead).

Griffin launches iPhone 5 case for Square card reader using merchants

Griffin Merchant case for iPhone 5
Griffin Merchant case for iPhone 5

If you’re looking for a durable way to carry that Square card reader while you’re raking in that moolah for your small business? Griffin has you covered with a case for that. Teaming up with Square for CES 2014, the case manufacturer has announced an iPhone 5 case designed specifically for businesses making their money on the go. For the most part, the Merchant Case is little more than a standard silicone phone sleeve, but a few minor tweaks make it particularly suited to Square users. The case’s bottom edge, for instance, is designed to hold the reader in place, while also providing a credit card shaped groove to help guide your customers’ plastic into the Square. The backside of the case also has a recessed storage area that can serve as the card reader’s home when it’s not in use, making it easier to carry around. The case does look a little bulky, but it does seem to be a simple solution to a simple problem. The Griffin Merchant Case is available now for $20 on the company’s website.

Valve names company’s first 14 Steam Machines partners

Some of Valve's first 14 Steam Machines displayed at CES 2014
Some of Valve’s first 14 Steam Machines displayed at CES 2014

Valve’s Steam Machines initiative has already been supported by a first-party box used by 300 beta users, but 2014 is all about third-party Steam Machines taking that reference box and running with it. Thus far, the only third parties we know of that are making Steam Machines are iBuyPower and Digital Storm — but today, all that changed. Alienware, Falcon Northwest, CyberPowerPC, Origin PC, Gigabyte,, Webhallen, Alternate, Next, Zotac, Scan Computers and Maingear (in addition to iBuyPower and Digital Storm) are among the first companies signed on to support Valve’s initiative.

The entire lineup was on display at CES 2014, and we’ll have more details below. Beyond the company’s 14 partners above, it’s completely possible that there are other third parties signed on for Steam Machines — we didn’t know until Valve’s press conference on the afternoon of January 6.

The Specs

Valve’s Gabe Newell took to the stage at Valve’s CES 2014 event and doled out specs for gaming rigs from all of the companies I mentioned above. There are 13 machines in all, varying in price from $500 to $6000 apiece. We don’t have full hardware specifications as of now, but we’ll rundown what we know as of now.

Alienware — Price TBD

Alienware Steam Machine
Alienware Steam Machine

The folks at Dell (Alienware’s parent company) were kind enough to reveal their machine at Valve’s event, but didn’t clue us in on what’s inside. What we do know is that the case is a fairly basic black box, flaunting only Alienware and Steam logos for flare and offering a pair of front-facing USB ports. We don’t know what’s inside, but given the company’s tradition of configurable hardware, there will probably be multiple options.

It’s available now and Dell didn’t give any spec suggestions (except to say that it will perform on par with a gaming notebook). Even then, Dell representatives declined to make any specific comparisons with Alienware’s current notebook offerings, so you really won’t know until later if this is an equivalent to an Alienware 14 or 18. As for the price, it will be “highly competitive to the next generation of consoles,” according to Alienware business development’s Marc Diana. That translates to between $400 and $500, then? Dell is hoping it can sell more Steam Machines than the nearly countless other Steam Machines on the market, even if this is an experimental category.


“We feel we are uniquely positioned in that we can serve a lot of customers from the start.”

As seen above, Dell’s aiming for its Steam Machine to be exceptionally compact.

Greg Coomer, Valve designer:

“It’s dramatically smaller than about everything else in the lineup.”

Coomer noted that there will be at least one machine that’s smaller, but it will be far less powerful. Given that we don’t know the specs as of yet, we’d take any comments about performance with a grain of salt. That said, anyone with two eyes can see that this is indeed a compact little box, especially compared to the PS4 or Xbox One. As for the rest of the design, Dell is already taking up the cooling system, which sucks in cold air through channels on the back, and is said to run quietly. Unfortunately, we can’t vouch for that last piece, as we haven’t seen a working prototype in action.

Elsewhere on the device, you’ll find two USB ports up front, but that’s of course subject to change as the unit on display today is hardly final. Also, given that this is an Alienware machine we’re talking about, there will naturally be some colorful LED lights. The setup is (thankfully) quite modest for Dell’s standards: Right now, only the Alienware and Steam logos are expected to light up. Alienware’s rationale? The Steam Machine will likely reside in your living room — a spot where you’d probably rather it blend in than call too much attention to itself.

Alternate — $1339

Alternate Steam Machine
Alternate Steam Machine

This simple cube isn’t exactly going to win any beauty contests, but it has some pretty decent internals. Alternate’s Steam Machine is specced with an Intel Core i5 4570 processor, an NVIDIA GTX 760 GPU from Gigabyte, 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, via a hybrid solid state hard drive.

CyberPowerPC — $499 and up

CyberPower PC Steam Machine
CyberPower PC Steam Machine

If you’re looking for something that resembles an original Xbox-era game console, take a look at CyberpowerPC’s rig. It’s packing an AMD 3.9GHZ A6 CPU, 2GB Radeon R9 270 GPU, up to 8GB of RAM and 500GB of internal storage. If you’re not too keen to AMD, CyberPowerPC is offering an Intel based alternative with a 3.5GHz Core i3 processor and a GeForce GTX 760 GPU instead, with dozens of other configurations available at a customer’s whim. It’s available now.

Digital Storm “Bolt II” — $2584

Digital Storm Bolt II

Digital Storm’s laltest Bolt is more than the standard tower seen from the boutique PC company in the past. It’s a Steam Machine, but also a regular PC with the ability to dual-boot into both Windows and Steam OS. The biggest difference is that it ships with Valve’s Steam Controller — something you’ll need if you’re interested in playing any cursor-based games in your living room.

The Bolt II will be outfitted with an Intel Core i7 4470K processor, a GTX 7880 Ti graphics processor, up to 16GB of RAM and a traditional one-two HDD/SSD combo: one terabyte of storage on the traditional spinning disc and 120GB on the speedy solid state drive.

Oddly, its price was above the $1,500 we originally heard, but that’s apparently because of power. Digital Storm decided to offer a more powerful entry-level system, according to a company representative.


Gigabyte “Brix Pro” — Price TBD

Gigabyte Brix Pro
Gigabyte Brix Pro

This diminutive box appears to be a little wider than a DVD, but also seems to suffer for its size. Although its Intel Core i7-4770R CPU is fast enough, Valve’s press materials describe it as having integrated graphics — Intel Iris Pro 5200, specifically. Integrated chips have come a long way in recent years, but definitely worth noting. The box also sports 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SATA HDD.

iBuyPower — $499 and up

iBuyPower Steam Machine
iBuyPower SBX Steam Machine

Like so many Steam Machine builders, iBuyPower is known for offering its customers customizable boxes, which is why the company didn’t specify any one type of processors. The company’s Steam Machine will offer GPUs from both AMD and Intel, and promises an AMD graphics card — a Radeon R9 270, to be specific. Plus, if you’ve got a thing for consoles, you’ll love it’s case, which looks like an odd mix of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The pretty little Steam Machine, dubbed “SBX,” is iBuyPower’s direct challenge to Microsoft and Sony’s game consoles: $500 gets you to the box, a Steam Controller, an HDMI cable, and all the power therein. The prototype we saw pack a modified (with “some voltage and speed tweaks”) Athlon X4 740 CPU, 4GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD, and a Radeon R7 250 GPU (1GB GDDR5) power Steam OS — no dual booting here! iBuyPower hoped for a Radeon R7 260X (or equivalent) GPU when it shipped, but most of the other specs have stood the test of time.

This is iBuyPower’s first console, rather than a highly modified PC, according to the company’s director, Tuan Mguyen. It’s easy to see his perspective after getting to know a prototype here at CEs. Of the various Steam Machines announced during Steam’s press event, SBX is a middle of the road entry in terms of both price and specs. It’ll run today’s prettiest games on Steam without an issue, but not all of them turned all the way up. Two color variations of the box are available: glossy white and matte black. What about that color bar dividing SBX in two? An iOS and Android app named LEDControl enables a wide variety of color choices on the fly (no light at all is also an option).

Falcon Northwest “Tiki” — $1,799-$6,000

Falcon Northwest Tiki
Falcon Northwest Tiki

Falcon Northwest’s Tiki PC isn’t exactly a newcomer, but the Steam Machine version certainly is. It’s a direct replica of the currently available Tiki, albeit with Steam OS and a Steam Controler packed in. In terms of specs, there’s a pretty wide range: up to a GTX Titan GPU, 6TB of storage (yes, 6,000GB!), and up to 16GB of RAM. If that wasn’t enough, the outside its emblazoned with the planet on fire imagery seen in so much Steam Machine marketing. — $1,098 Steam Machine Steam Machine

Materiel is aiming at your game consoles with a box packing a tad more power than what Microsoft and Sony are offering. An Intel Core i5 CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 760 GPU, 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage round out the box’s specs, and the rice is just right — a slight step above the newest game consoles and comparable boutique PCs, with a big enough power upgrade to justify the price.

 Next “Spa” — Price TBD

Next Spa
Next Spa

Next’s Steam Machine is just a step above the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, offering an Intel Core i5 CPU, a NVIDIA GT 760 and 1TB storage. It looks like it’ll land just below a grand.

Origin PC “Chronos” — Price TBD

Origin PC Chronos
Origin PC Chronos

Origin’s taking a configurable approach with its Steam Machine, off an Intel Core i7 CPU, two NVIDIA GTX Titan GPUs, 32GB of RAM and 14TB of storage (with swappable drives). There’s a good reason why the price for the Chronos hasn’t been announced — because either a, your wallet is going to physically die or b, you’re going to have a heart attack when you hear how much this Lamborghini PC setup is going to cost.

Scan NC10 — $1,090

Scan NC10
Scan NC10

Scan’s flat, long Steam Machine is a mix of high end (NVIDIA GTX 765M GPU) and low end (Intel Core i3 CPU), and seems destined for mostly game streaming. 8GB of RAM and 500GB of HDD storage mean you’ll be able to do at least some gaming right on the NC10, but it isn’t exactly a powerhouse.

Webhallen — $1,499

Webhallen Steam Machine
Webhallen Steam Machine

Webhallen’s take on the Steam Machine concept is on the higher-end of the spectrum, with an Intel Core i7 CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 780 GPU, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSHD — clearly they’re not kidding around! Of course, great power comes with a mighty price tag (in this case, $1499). It might be double the power of new game consoles, but being more than double the price makes Webhallen’s model a bit of a hard sell.

Zotac — $599

Zotac Steam Machine
Zotac Steam Machine

Zotac’s got an especially small little box, with an unnamed Intel Core CPU, a NVIDIA GTX GPU (also unnamed) and unknown amounts of storage and RAM. What we do know is that the Zotac is a box on the level of a new game console, and it has a price to match.

Valve hasn’t ruled out making its own Steam Machine

Valve's logo
Valve’s logo

The question that’s probably on your mind right now after reading through the spec rundown above (it was in my mind, at least) is that “What about Valve; where’s their Steam Machine?” Steam didn’t show one off at the Consumer Electronics Show, but that doesn’t mean that the masterminds behind the Steam game store has ruled it out.

Newell during Valve’s CES 2014 press conference, in response to a question asking whether the company would make its own Steam Machine:

“We’re gonna make that decision as we go along. We have plans to build more machines as customers ask.”

So far, only 300 beta testers have the answer to that question beyond Gabe Newell’s statement. Part of Valve’s reason for being at CES was to solicit feedback from press and consumers, according to Newell, which pretty much puts a nail in the coffin of the fantasy of a Valve-made Steam Machine box.

Road Warrior Bluetooth speaker aims to amp up your tailgating with 200 watts of power

ION Road Warrior Bluetooth speaker
ION Road Warrior Bluetooth speaker

If the average portable Bluetooth speaker doesn’t pack enough audio punch for your liking, Ion’s revealed a titan that just might meet your needs. Dubbed the Road Warrior, the firm’s 200-watt wireless stereo system packs a duo of ten-inch woofers paired with two one-inch tweeters. In addition to Bluetooth streaming capabilities, the box also boasts an AM/FM radio and an 1.8-inch jack. When it comes to power, the package can only rely on its built-in battery, a wall plug or the 12 volt outlet in your car. The kit was designed for occasions like tailgating events and cookouts, so it’s fitting that the speakers are contained in a cloth-covered box reminiscent of car audio gear. A price tag and release date are MIA, but we’ll have it here as the TechSummit Rewind continues.

HP launches a bunch of business PCs, including an Android-powered all-in-one at CES

HP Slate 21 Pro
HP Slate 21 Pro

I think that HP forgot that CES is short for the Consumer Electronics Show. Pretty much everything HP showed off in Vegas was aimed for the enterprise user — or should I say, the IT guys tasked with outfitting employees. Out of everything Hewlett-Packard announced, the most interesting thing might be the Slate 21 Pro, an Android-powered all-in-one tailored for business users. Granted this isn’t even HP’s first Android AiO (that honor goes to the original Slate 21), but it is the first Android-toting all-in-one for the corporate world. And hey, if HP isn’t going to announce any consumer products, the next best thing is products that are at least consumerfied, am I right?

At any rate, the big story here is in the software department: In addition to all of the usual Google services (Gmail, Google Plus, YouTube, Google Calendar, Google Drive), HP pre-loaded the thing with Kingsoft Office, Evernote, Skype, HP Classroom Manager, 50GB of lifetime Box storage and Citrix Receiver for remote Windows access. To be sure, one could use all these apps in the office, at least on a secondary display, but HP also imagines the Slate 21 Pro in classrooms, computer labs, public kiosks and maybe the business center at Hampton Inn. And given that it runs Android 4.3 Jelly Bean (at launch), the owner can use the restricted profile feature to make it so that guests can only use certain apps (like Chrome, for example). It’s available now for $399 with a keyboard and mouse — not that you’re going to buy one for yourself.

HP Pro x2 410
HP Pro x2 410

Additionally, HP announced the Pro x2 410, an 11-inch detachable laptop, and its first hybrid for the business market (I think you can see the theme here). All told, it’s pretty much a business version of the Split x2, in that it runs either an Intel Core i3 or i5 processor and rocks a decent 1366×768 display with no pen input. That’s available now for “at or around $899,” according to a company representative.

HP ProOne 400
HP ProOne 400

Also, in addition to the Slate 21 Pro we just mentioned, HP unveiled two other AiOs — the ProOne 400 and the HP 205, both of which run Windows. Starting with the 400, it’s available available in two screen sizes: 21.5 inches with touch or 19.5 without. Either way, you get a choice of Intel Haswell processors, though screen resolution varies depending on the model; the touch version goes up to 1080p, while the non-touch is capped at 1600×800. Those are available now, starting at $799 with touch and $649 without. Meanwhile, the HP 205 is an 18.5-inch machine with low-end specs (1366×768 display, dual-core AMD Kabini APU) and a budget $449 and up price tag to match.

Finally, HP launched the new 300 line of laptops, which consists of 14- and 15-inch models that feature spill-resistant keyboards, anti-glare panels and fingerprint readers, but not the premium software add-ons you’d get on the existing 400 series. That’ll go starting at $399.


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