The weekend leading up to the annual Consumer Electronics Show and the first few days of the event have some recurring features. A few staples? Keynotes, press conferences and, of course, the unveiling of the many cool new gadgets that technology companies have up their sleeves for the year. CES 2014 is no exception.
Some notable cool new gadgets include eye candy like Samsung’s (SSNLF) 105-inch curved 4K TV, Ford’s (F) solar-powered car, or the new Z18 3D printer from Stratasys (SYSS) acquisition MakerBot, which can churn out 10 3D printing jobs simultaneously.
Of course, once Wednesday rolls around, the focus will shift to the myriad smaller vendors at CES 2014, demos of the less visually spectacular products and the tallying up of “Best in Show” nominees.
Here five of the most interesting cool new gadgets that are in contention for various “Best of CES 2014″ awards.
The Best Cool New Gadgets at CES 2014 – LG Chromebase AiO
One wouldn’t think a desktop PC would be particularly huge news at CES 2014, much less one of the most head-turning cool new gadgets … even if it is a sleek-looking all-in-one that’s more than a little reminiscent of an Apple (AAPL) iMac.
By going with Google Chrome and its lightweight hardware requirements, LG can offer premium styling, an attractive full-HD display and still keep the price low. Just how low has yet to be revealed but, with Google Chromebooks going for half the price of traditional PC laptops, it’s a good bet that the Chromebase AiO will undercut desktop PCs in a big way.
Given the success of those Chromebooks in 2013 (they captured 21% of all U.S. laptop sales and showed up in 1 of 5 U.S. school districts), Microsoft (MSFT) and Apple have to be watching cool new gadgets like the Chromebase with more than a little trepidation. This CES 2014 development is exactly the kind of all-in-one PC that’s attractive for home, educational and light-business use — the key markets for the Apple iMac and yet another threat to Windows and Office sales for Microsoft.
The Best Cool New Gadgets at CES 2014 - iSense 3D Scanner for iPad
3D printing technology has topped lists of cool new gadgets for some time, but it hasn’t yet taken off in the home. One big challenge? The lack of digital blueprints for 3D objects.
The 3D printer itself remains one of the more expensive cool new gadgets out there … and once you have one and print the few dozen free objects the manufacturer provides, it’s a bit of Wild West on the Internet to track down the files needed to print anything else.
That’s where the iSense 3D Scanner for an Apple iPad comes in. Produced by 3D Systems (DDD) — maker of other cool new gadgets like the Cube 3D printer I reviewed a few weeks ago — the $499 iSense 3D scanner revealed at CES 2014 clips to an iPad and lets users scan objects in three dimensions.
From there, the iSense 3D Scanner creates a photorealistic model of the object and outputs the data in a 3D printable way, and the Cube used that to print out a 3D copy. For under $2,000, anyone can now have what is essentially a 3D photocopier setup in their home.
The Best Cool New Gadgets at CES 2014 - Edison
Two of the big themes emerging from the long list of cool new gadgets at CES 2014 have been wearables and the Internet of Everything — where just about any object you can imagine is connected to the web.
Something has to power all these devices, though, and that’s where Intel (INTC) is trying to position itself with Edison. One of many cool new gadgets from Intel, Edison is essentially a PC shrunk down to the size of the SD card you use in your digital camera. Each Edison houses an Intel Quark dual-core processor, integrated Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth radio.
It’s inexpensive, low power, totally connected, capable of running apps and small enough to be embedded in anything from a coffee cup to the Mimo wearable baby monitor Intel was showing off at CES 2014.
Intel thinks Edison is a game-changer … and there’s a good chance it may be right.
The Best Cool New Gadgets at CES 2014 - Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2
Tablets are everywhere at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show — cheap tablets, tablets aimed at kids, hybrid tablets and gaming tablets. But while not all tablets can be called cool new gadgets, Samsung’s new technology sure can be.
Yes, the tech giant has been stealing the eyeballs at CES 2014 with its super-sized Samsung Galaxy NotePRO 12.2, already racking up awards from TechRadar and other sites. After several years of focusing on small, cheap tablet in an effort to win the battle for market share among price-conscious consumers, Samsung is making a grab for the business and prosumer tablet market.
A 7-inch tablet or even a 10-inch tablet is simply too small for many professional users. But offer a 12.2-inch Android tablet with a WQXGA display and smart-pen capability (along with the ability to add on a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard), and you have a device that just might realistically replace a laptop.
Even better, Samsung doesn’t have to fight Apple and its best-selling iPad for this niche – at least not yet.
The Best Cool New Gadgets at CES 2014 – Sony Bravia X9 4K Ultra HDTV
Samsung and LG got the lion’s share of the camera attention at CES 2014 thanks to their massive, curved 4K TVs. But while a 9-foot TV with a flexible display that curves inward at the touch of the button is exciting, the market for extreme cool new gadgets like that is very limited. Most people would rather buy a sports car or pay off their mortgage than drop that kind of cash on a TV.
But when it comes to cool new gadgets that won’t kill your bank account, Sony (SNE) has you cover. The company always made some pretty nice TVs, and it also has a well-earned reputation for design. So while the Bravia X9 line of 4K TVs it introduced at CES 2014 may not have the wow factor of other sets, it’s been winning fans based on its solid specs, attractive look and design details.
Instead of a uniformly thin case, for example. Sony made the Bravia X9 case a subtle wedge that’s thicker at the bottom. Besides adding some visual interest, this has two practical advantages: the TV is more difficult to topple over when not wall-mounted, and the additional room means Sony was able to use better speakers with more space for superior bass.
Pricing hasn’t been released yet, but based on Sony’s 4K TV pricing strategy from last year, a Bravia X9 4K Ultra HDTV should represent a premium quality 4K TV that’s actually affordable … at least in the 55-inch version.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.