Best and Worst (and WTF) of CES 2011

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on January 11th, 2011

Well, it was a long, strange, Vegas-y week for us here at 148Apps. We took to the Las Vegas Convention Center to check out all the latest gadgets and apps that we could stand. Here's our roundup of the best, the worst, and the just plain WTF of the whole conference.

Best of CES

iCade: iPad Arcade Cabinet

We were so excited by this thing turning out to be real, we dropped a post on it right away. It does indeed look to be real, and has many a geek excited. Starting out as a April Fool's joke on Think Geek, ION Audio picked up the idea and ran with it.

iHome iW1 - Airplay Enabled Rechargeable Home Speaker

If you haven't been under a rock for the last several years, you'll have seen iHome speaker docks, for your iPod and iPhone. The latest speaker boast some impressive features, most notably Airplay compatibility and a rechargeable battery, leading to within-network mobility. Imagine playing Slacker Radio or Pandora from your iPhone to a speaker in any room in your house, or, better yet, a speaker you can take with you from room to room while playing from the iPod touch in your pocket? Now THAT's the future. [iHome]

Dexim iPad Bluetooth Keyboard/Leather Folio Combo Case

This is the one that Engadget posted about - you know, the one with the iPad 2 prototype in it? We were more impressed with the foldable folio-style iPad case with the thin, magnetically attached bluetooth keyboard as part of the unit. Easily removed, as well, for those non-keyboard moments in your travelling life. Slick design abounds here, and we can't wait to get our little hands on one. [Dexim]

iConnect MIDI to iPad/iPhone

If you're a musician, you'll appreciate the fact that while there have been great music creation apps on the iPad and iPhone, but not many ways to use them with hardware controllers like keyboards or drum machines. That could change with iConnect, a new hardware box that utilizes the connector on your iOS device to connect MIDI and USB devices that use the MIDI standard. Hooray for us!

Eton Crank-Charged Emergency Box with USB Power Dump

There you are, in the middle of a natural disaster and the power is out. Your iPhone is dead, and you need to call your Aunt Mary to make sure she's ok. Never mind that her power is probably out, too, but should you need to charge your various devices on the go, you'll want one of these hand crank power units from Eton. The pictured model even has a "power dump" feature, so you can build up a charge with the hand crank, then let it do its thing all on its own, so you don't have to sit there cranking until the wee dark hours of the morning just to play that last ound of Canabalt. Throw in the built in radio, flashlight, and more and you've got almost everything you need to survive the next power outage. And yes, that IS in fact Jeff's handsome hand and iPhone modeling for you.

Sennheiser Digital Noise Canceling Headphones with iPhone Compatibility

Sennheiser is known as a maker of high-end audiophile headphones, and at CES, we found out why. Boasting many different lines of headphones, from Adidas special additions to digital noise canceling headphones with pass through mic systems in place (when you need to hear the stewardess on the plane, for example) and iPhone remote buttons.

Worst of CES

iPhone and iPad Cases

Seriously, folks, how many cases do you actually need? From shiny be-dazzled iPhone cases to every bizarre iPad stand/case/kiosk thing, the one thing that CES had in plenty was cases. Look, we appreciate a well designed case as much as anyone, but do we really need four dozen of each type? Don't answer that -- it was a rhetorical question. Color us sick of iPhone and iPad cases, with only a few notable exceptions.

"iPad Killer" Tablets

This was the year of Android at CES. Everyone and their mother's brother had a tablet, from tiny little companies to ginormous world-spanning companies, and everyone in between. With the Samsung Galaxy Tab (sweet form factor and solid design) and the Blackberry Playbook (amazing looking OS, but still waiting to see full functionality) at the show, not to mention LG's offering, it's hard to want to see any other "budget friendly" tablets. You get what you pay for, folks.

Streaming TV Products

File this under "Things That Do What Airplay Does, Only Less Well and More Kludgy-y Looking." We saw WAY too many little black or white boxes that will "STREAM TV FROM YOUR SMART PHONE!!!!" We aren't adding the exclamation points here. Look, electronics makers, Apple already did this, and we don't need to snap on some poorly made plastic doo-hicky to our "smartphone" in order to do it. Plus, AppleTV just works. Honest.



We're still wondering why this product exists. The makers claim that we all need a bluetooth enabled meat temp probe. The only thing we MIGHT concede is that having an app on the iPhone or iPad that tells us how long a given piece of meat will take to be done could be handy. Otherwise...err...huh? We're men, see, and we burn meats on grills. We don't need no fancy pants meat probe to tell us when it's done!

Smart Appliances

We don't want our oven to download recipes. Seriously. We can do that with the BILLION APPS DEDICATED TO JUST THAT! We don't want our refrigerator to send us targeted advertising email, either, thank you very much. Plus we don't want to have to pay for an extra data plan for our kitchen. There is, however, a Whirlpool Washer/Dryer with an app to tell you when laundry is done. That could be handy, we suppose. Maybe. Like when the huge buzzer sound our dryer makes just isn't enough.

SkunkJuice Earbuds

Ok, we were a bit intrigued with these earbuds that allow multiple magnetic connections for music sharing, even before the hot booth babes with teh "You Wanna Hook Up" T-Shirts and short shorts showed up to demo them. We reserved this WTF special mention for the Director of Communication at the booth, who invited us to a press conference “in 20 minutes” but she didn’t know where it was. Nor could she find out. Neither could we. Marketing Fail, guys.

Did you go to CES? See anything you'd consider the best, the worst, or WTF? Let us know in the comments below!