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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 14, 2013 at 11:02 AM

CES: A few gadgets that caught my eye

(From Saturday’s personal technology section …)

LAS VEGAS — Picking favorites is hard when there are thousands of new products being unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show, but here are a few that caught my eye.

Samsung Ultra High Definition TV: It’s time to start building an addition on your home if you want one of Samsung’s enormous new Ultra High Definition TVs going on sale by June.

Samsung isn’t saying how much they’ll cost but other companies are selling sets with the same resolution and smaller screens for $25,000. But they don’t have easel frames containing an array of speakers and a 120-watt amplifier.

The 85-inch diagonal S5 model goes on sale first. Later in the year Samsung will release 95-inch and 110-inch models. Costco’s going to need bigger carts.

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Sony Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speaker: If you could see past all the new headphones unveiled at CES, you might have noticed a new trend in gadget design: the orb.

Among the spherical gadgets debuting at the show were Sony’s Ultra-Portable Bluetooth Speakers. The $70 gadgets have 5 watts of power and can sync with phones that have near-field communication (NFC) radios.

Don’t be fooled by TV ads showing people instantly sharing media by tapping their phones together. It takes awhile to transfer files with NFC, so Sony’s trick is to use NFC to establish a handshake between a phone and its wireless speakers. Once they’re paired, the devices use Bluetooth to stream music and calls.

Sony’s colorful balls play music streamed from a phone and can be used as a speakerphone, to answer calls by pressing a button on the back. Sony claims that its batteries run for up to five hours on a charge.

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Comcast broadband gateway: This box didn’t get exactly get gadget fans drooling, but it may be coming to your house in the next year or two. It’s a prototype of a new broadband, video and phone gateway that Comcast is developing with help from Intel.

The box has six tuners and a 500 gigabyte hard drive to handle TV content, which is sent through the home network to PCs and TVs. It can handle broadband service up to about 900 megabits per second and includes a dual-band Wi-Fi router and four gigabit Ethernet ports.

To connect older TVs, Comcast and Intel are also working on a new digital adapter that supports on-demand video streamed by Comcast.

Comcast will begin testing its new gateway later this year. Prices weren’t disclosed.

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Nidec MCT-500 wind generator: Residential solar panels are so 2010. Perhaps a wind generator is the next way to get your home off the grid.

You’ll need more than one — and a lot of wind — to power your new ultra high-def TV. Or you could just use it to power an irrigation pump.

This MCT-500 was designed by Japan’s Nidec Corp. It’s made in China and being distributed by a Korean company. It will cost $2,000 in the U.S., according to representative Kouhei Tanabe.

With the wind blowing 12 meters per second it spins at 900 RPM and generates 500 watts of power.

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Moneual media server: Talk about a multifunction device. This new server from Korea’s Moneual handles real and virtual clouds inside your home.

Inside the white plastic case is a media server with a 1.5 terabyte hard drive and 64 gigabyte solid-state drive that can stream music and video files to TVs and stereos in the home via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radio.

It can also be used to coordinate connected devices such as “smart” appliances, filters and security systems, creating an in-home cloud service that’s monitored and controlled via the server’s touch-screen display or a companion app that runs on Web tablets.

But that’s not all. The server also functions as an air purifier, with the computer’s cooling fans doing double-duty managing other clouds in the room. Prices weren’t disclosed.

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Comments | More in | Topics: CES, Clean tech, Digital TV

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