CES Unveiled Highlights: Dish, Soul, Orbitix and More
Soul's Katie Bardis
Wilson Electronics' Clayton Blackham
LG's Nitza Martinez
Eton's Alyshia Kisor-Madlen
Fitbug's Lolita Cintron
Grant Dahlke of OWC
The legendary International CES trade show, known as the most influential–and by far the largest–in the tech and consumer electronics industries, kicks off each year with a special press-only sneak-peek event known as CES Unveiled. This is an event where, for the most part, the smaller and more entrepreneurially-minded companies come to spread the word about their latest and greatest gadgets and technological innovations.
The Dealerscope and CustomRetailer teams, of course, hit the Unveiled show floor on Sunday in full force; here’s a small sampling of some of the products that caught our eye.
Other World Computing was showing off a fairly diverse range of products and accessories, including the Power2U USB Wall Outlet. Available in both 15 and 20 amp models, it’s the first UL-listed AC/USB wall outlet. It can be installed DIY-style in 20 minutes, and can comfortably charge four devices at once. Also on display at the OWC booth:
The military-grade NuGuard KX case for iPhone 4/4s and 5. “You’re probably asking yourself, ‘What does the world need with another iPhone case?’” said OWC marketing manager Grant Dahlke (pictured), before explaining that his KX-encased iPhone survived an impressive 200-foot drop from atop a wind turbine. The case, which is due to ship in about two weeks, has a MSRP of $49.95 and comes with a lifetime warranty. www.macsales.com
SOUL Electronics unveiled its new Party In A Box (PIAB), a feature-packed wireless home entertainment system that comes in the form of a portable box. Roughly the size of a small Igloo cooler, the PIAB features VU analog meters, a PA system (karaoke, anyone?), a digital docking port for your Apple device (it’s big enough to dock an iPad), and an 8-speaker omnidirectional system. Complete with a handle and a shoulder strap, the $999 box also features AirPlay and Bluetooth wireless connectivity. Visit the SOUL website to see a video of the PIAB in action. www.soulelectronics.com
Orbotix CEO Paul Berberian was spotted on the Unveiled show floor playing games with the Sphero, a smart robot device that’s roughly the size and shape of a tennis ball. The Sphero is essentially a gaming gadget, and Orbotix already has about 20 Android and iOS game apps available. The device can also be used as a controller (for tablets and PCs, for instance), and Orbotix is currently exploring the potential of developing augmented reality games for the ball, which sells for $129 at Target and Apple stores. “We’re really trying to become [something] of a robotic games system,” Berberian explained. www.gosphero.com
DISH introduced its DISH Explorer app, a second-screen intuitive control app for the iPad that allows customers of the Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR platform to interact with their favorite programs in entirely new ways. The Explorer app gives viewers full control of the TV; viewers can also search live TV, DVR and on-demand programs using only the iPad’s keyboard. “Customers are already using tablets while watching TV,” said Vivek Khemka, Dish’s VP of product management. “But until Explorer, it had been two separate experiences. What we’ve done is develop an integrated, seamless experience between the tablet and the television.” www.dish.com
The digital health company Fitbug introduced the second generation model of its popular Fitbug Orb, a $49.99 fitness tracking device that uses Bluetooth to send data to your smartphone or tablet. The Orb can track everything from your sleeping activity to your daily steps, and “has lots of functionality in terms of how you wear it,” said client relationship manager Lolita Cintron. Early Fitbug users, she explained, wanted a device that looked a bit less like a typical pedometer, and so the company developed a watchband attachment and even a discrete undergarment clip for women. (The accessories are $9.99 each.) Also introduced was an iOS-supported blood-pressure cuff called the Fitbug Luv, which should be available in March or April. The Fitbug Wow, meanwhile, is a Bluetooth-connected scale that should be in stores this June, retailing at $79.99. www.fitbug.com
Eton, which refers to itself as a company that provides consumer electronic devices “empowered by nature,” introduced an impressively large line of mostly-new gadgets at International CES Unveiled on Sunday. The beautifully designed Rugged Rukus, an all-terrain solar-powered wireless sound system (MSRP $99.99), was being shown publically for the first time, as was the BoostTurbine 2000, a backup battery pack that operates entirely on human power, thanks to its hand crank. Also on display: The BoostSolar, a solar-powered backup battery pack (“think of it as a backup for your backup,” said Alyshia Kisor-Madlen, pictured), and a line of Weather Alert clock radios. www.etoncorp.com
A sizable crowd gathered around the LG Electronics display Sunday night when Nitza Martinez (pictured) began explaining the benefits of the company’s 84-inch Ultra HDTV, which includes LG Cinema 3D and retails at around $20,000. (LG will be also be showing 55-inch and 65-inch models at CES this week.) The LG display has already received a CES “Best of Innovations” award this year, and for good reason: Never have you seen a crisper, sharper and more lifelike TV display—even when your eyes are mere inches from the set. www.lg.com
Wilson Electronics introduced its Sleek 4G cell phone signal booster, which it calls “the world’s most advanced 4G mobile booster.” The Sleek, which was named a Design and Engineering Awards Honoree at International CES 2013, was designed specifically to improve reception in cars, trucks, boats and other vehicles. Delivering more than 20 times the power of a standard cell phone, the Sleek boosts signals for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon customers, along with legacy signals for all U.S. carriers. www.wilsonelectronics.com
Dan Eldridge is a journalist and guidebook author based in Philadelphia's historic Old City district, where he and his partner own and operate Kaya Aerial Yoga, the city's only aerial yoga studio. A longtime cultural reporter, Eldridge also writes about small business and entrepreneurship, travel, and the publishing industry. Follow him on Twitter at @YoungPioneers.