This year’s MacWorld and CES seems to be a big let down when it comes to new gadgets. The Mac fan boys were crossing their fingers even though El Jobslimo wasn’t doing the keynote that Apple still might announce a new Mac tablet. Maybe they can get Dan Lyons next year. CES seemed to be a let down too, spewing a bunch of products but none that made me say, “Wow”.
I was secretly hoping that Plastic Logic would announce a new killer flexible eBook reader to rival the Amazon Kindle. However, none of these things came true so here’s four cool tech toys that are already available from your favorite tech toy store.
At CES Netgear announced a new 3G Wi-Fi router but since 3G was supposed to help us be more mobile their offering doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. What does make sense is the Cradlepoint CTR500 (MSRP $200) a pocket-sized (4.7” x 2.8” x 0.8”) cellular router that works with my Verizon UM150 EVDO USB.It also has an Ethernet port and a PCI Express slot to supply connectivity from various sources. Unlike the Netgear it has no wired routing options but then again if I was going to use a wired router I wouldn’t chose this option actually if I am using a wired LAN most likely I am not going to need a cellular router.
Ten years ago if you told me that I would have 4TB of storage in my home I would have told you that you were wacky. However, today I have Western Digital’s 4TB ShareSpace NAS system running in my home. The Sharespace is a reasonably priced turnkey storage system that is extremely easy to set-up. For roughly $800 dollars you get an easy to configure system that can server as a multimedia, backup, and general file sharing server. It even is configured as an iTunes server an allows you to easily connect and centralize all your media from all your PCs (for those of us who have many PCs int their house). The only downfall of the device is that I feel like the write speed is a bit slow.
Bridging the television to your computer especially your laptop computer should be a little more elegant than attaching a hard-wired TV Tuner card. Enter the SlingBox Pro HD. I hooked mine up in a few minutes and it does a very good job of streaming video from my DVR to my laptop even HDTV. I have even had good results over my EVDO connection. I found that I get the best results when using the DVR-like buffer pausing shows for a minute before watching them though even streaming media seems to work well. The other product Slingmedia has in the works is an update to their Slingcatcher. The Slingcatcher, is the exact opposite of the Slingbox. The Slingcatcher connects your TV to your PC so can stream Internet videos or other media you have stored on your PC hard drive.
One announcement from CES that did catch my attention was the Asus T91 convertible Tablet PC but it’s not available yet. I like the Asus netbooks and I picked up the Asus N10J a couple of months ago. It was a little pricey, but I am very happy with it. The little notebook came with Windows Vista and a Windows XP downgrade CD. I downgraded to XP right away as I had read that it would increase my battery life. I also installed Ubuntu via the WUBI installer to compare which operating system would yield longer battery life. So far there is very little advantage of using one over the other (yeah I know that a native install might have faster disk access). I normally run Ubuntu but there is no Slingbox client for Linux. The reason I wanted this laptop was because it has a HDMI port, I stay in a lot of hotels with beautiful flat screen HDTVs and crappy programming. With the HDMI jack I can display the video from my Slingbox or a movie from my hard drive. If you want simple email and web browsing there are many more cost effective solutions than the N10 but if you want a few bells and whistles and a six hour battery life in a package that’s under 3 pounds this isn’t a bad choice.
SoI guess it’s no secret that I am a gadget nerd, what’s your favortie tech toy?