The Gear You Missed

This Week in Gear, CES 2015 Edition: December 5 – January 9


January 10, 2015 Briefings : Today in Gear By
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Good morning, welcome to the latest edition of This Week in Gear — your single shot serving of an entire week’s worth of killer new gear — pulled from our weekday editions of Today in Gear. This week we brought you daily, on-the-ground coverage from the Consumer Electronics Show, the world’s biggest technology event. Here’s to another fantastic week.

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LaCie-Mirror-Gear-Patrol LaCie Mirror
Make no mistake: the tech industry wants you to know that the economic downturn is over. Need proof? Have a look… at yourself. LaCie has chosen Sin City to launch an external hard drive that’s both beautiful and completely full of itself. The Mirror is completely encased in scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass that’s as reflective as it is capacious, with $280 netting you the 1TB unit later this month. Notably, you’ll need a USB 3.0 port to take advantage of high-speed transfers, and the asking price includes an ebony wood display stand (naturally). $280
Wiithings-Activite-Pop-Gear-Patrol Withings Activité Pop
It’s quite clear that CES 2015 will be the first that’s dominated by wearables, and we’re off to a roaring start. The Withings is perhaps best known in small circles for its Internet-connected scale, but with a design this good, the Activité Pop is going to garner serious interest. It’s among the sleekest, classiest activity trackers launched to date, tracking both activity and sleep quality (while also telling time). At $150, it’s priced well below what one might expect from its looks, but don’t rush to judge; we’ve still got four more days for every other company in the world to announce a wearable of their own. $150
Seagate-Seven-Gear-Patrol Seagate Seven
The Seagate Seven is the world’s slimmest hard drive, and its most attractive with a smooth steel casing. The shiny, ultralight 500GB drive will ship later this month for $100. It’s barely thick enough to make use of the conventional USB 3.0 connector, which begs the question of what’ll happen when things get even skinnier next year. $100
Rokus-4K-TV-Gear-Patrol Roku’s 4K TV Prototype
CES is a proving ground for products that aren’t quite ready for primetime, and Roku’s 4K reference set is this year’s first. Shipping their own televisions is a major leap for a company best known for its puck-sized TV streaming boxes: It’ll be going head to head with the likes of Vizio in a market where Sony has spun off its TV department due to impossible margin pressure. Details are scarce as to when Roku-branded sets will actually hit shelves — but Netflix, promisingly, has already been given the nod as a 4K content provider. theverge.com
Acer-Chromebook-15-Gear-Patrol Acer Chromebook 15
A few years ago, pundits wondered if the world would really embrace yet another operating system, particularly one that’s effectively a supercharged Chrome browser. Turns out those Chrome OS machines are faring quite well — so well that Acer has just issued the first Chromebook with a 15.6-inch panel. To date, most Chromebooks have been awfully petite, but this one’s equipped with a 1080p display, the latest Intel Core processor, and a starting tag of just $250. $250+
Belkin-Expanded-WeMo-Line-Gear-Patrol Belkin’s Expanded WeMo Line
Home automation, having been reserved for big spenders with plenty of time to oversee complicated installations, is finally finding its way into the mainstream. Belkin’s WeMo line is expanding this year at CES with the debut of motion, alarm, keychain and door/window sensors. The upside here is that they’ll all work with your existing wi-fi network: you’ll just need a Wink Hub, which acts as a translator between wi-fi and ZigBee (the sensing protocol that these things speak natively). Pricing is TBD, but most of these should cost well under $50 apiece, and you’ll be able to use as few or as many as needed to outfit your domicile. cnet.com
Aspire-V-17-Nitro-Notebook-3D-Gear-Patrol Kinect-Like 3D Laptop Cameras
It was just a matter of time, really. We’ve already seen laptops with fingerprint sensors on the palm rest, and now, 3D cameras have become small enough to live inside of a laptop bezel. Acer’s V 17 Nitro laptops are equipped with RealSense 3D cameras, which will be used to interact with games, open web pages or navigate applications without ever touching a conventional trackpad or keyboard. While there’s no mention of a security element, a software update that enables facial or ocular unlocking seems like a no-brainer. acer.com
Muse-Gear-Patrol-Lead Review: Muse Brain Sensing Headband
The Muse is a “mindfulness” tool recommended for use in a quiet place, removed from distraction for optimal results and noticeable calmness. I, being on my way home for Thanksgiving, decided the best way to test it was to wear it around my relatives and on a Black Friday trip to the mall. Read this story
Disc-Network-Sling-TV-Gear-Patrol Dish Network’s Sling TV
Here’s why this is important: it’s ESPN without a cable subscription. No “borrowed” passwords, and no dodgy workarounds. Slated to launch later this year with no strings attached to any pay TV subscription, Sling TV will enable single-user streaming of ESPN and a handful of other networks that pale in importance. The pain is $20 per month, which may well be worth it for sports fanatics who think that they can stay sufficiently entertained with ESPN and a Netflix subscription. This is undoubtedly a seminal moment in the evolution of TV. $20 per month
2016-Chevrolet-Volt-Gear-Patrol 2016 Chevrolet Volt
Given that the automotive space has taken up permanent residence at CES, it’s not entirely surprising to see Chevy tease its next-generation Volt ahead of its official reveal at the impending Detroit Auto Show. The car is a huge deal for GM. It’s the first full redesign of the Volt since the original launched in 2007, and both electric and hybrid vehicles have since graduated from novelty to commonplace. Pricing and specifications won’t be revealed until next week; if you had your heart set on a new Volt, it’s probably worth waiting to see what’s on deck. chevrolet.com
Canon-Connect-Station-CS100-Gear-Patrol Canon Connect Station CS100
You know those wi-fi hard drives meant to store media so that a car full of iPad-toting kids can all stream content from a local device? This is that, but for photographers. The 1TB puck ($300; shipping in June) is capable of offloading shots from honest-to-goodness cameras that have NFC and wi-fi embedded, and for older models, you’ll find SD and CF slots as well. In a sense, it’s a great backup solution for wedding or event photographers who simply can’t run the risk of shooting for too long without backing everything up, but the added HDMI port also makes it ideal for shooting and sharing instantly with friends. $300
Logitech-UE-Megaboom-Gear-Patrol Logitech UE MEGABOOM
Logitech’s original UE Boom was a surprisingly excellent Bluetooth speaker, which is why we’re pretty jazzed about its successor. The musical tube sports an IPX7-certified waterproof casing, sub-2-pound frame, 20 hours of battery life, and a 100-foot Bluetooth range. It’s best suited for beach-goers and ski bunnies who need something that’s both durable and listenable. But we aren’t passing judgment on those who look to go in halfsies on this thing with a buddy — $300 is nothing to scoff at. logitech.com
Garmin-Fenix-3-SmartWatch-Gear-Patrol Garmin Fenix 3 SmartWatch
The wearables just keep rolling, but this one’s worth a look for those needing a smartwatch that can withstand a few bruises. Aimed squarely at adventurers, hikers, boaters, and cyclists, Garmin’s Fenix 3 is rugged, intelligent, and practical. Equipped with GPS and advanced tracking modes, the Sapphire edition is the one that gets our vote. It boasts a scratch-resistant sapphire lens — an essential amenity. Pricing remains a mystery, but it looks to be the watch to beat for those who plan to spend more time outdoors than in a boardroom. garmin.com
Avegant-Glyph-Gear-Patrol Avegant Glyph
VR is impressive, but much like Google Glass, one has to wonder how ready our society is to strap a set of goggles onto one’s face for prolonged periods of time. Avegant’s Glyph is different: it’s a high-end set of headphones that just so happens to double as a personal theater. With an HDMI input, it’s aimed at frequent flyers who’d prefer a more immersive experience when crisscrossing the world. And, if you happen to game with it, that’s just a bonus. The $500 price point shouldn’t scare those who are used to Beats and the like, but you’ll have to wait until the fall to find a shipping unit. ~$500
Audi-Self-Driving-A7-Gear-Patrol-Lead Audi’s Self-Driving A7
Given that Back to the Future pegged 2015 as the year in which a truly mind-boggling amount of futuristic stuff happens, we can only applaud Audi for bringing a bit of autonomous magic to Las Vegas. The company’s prototype A7 recently departed San Francisco en route to Las Vegas, but importantly, this is more than just showmanship. Audi asserts that the sensors used in directing the vehicle are “production ready,” which could mean that self-driving cars are actually more feasible than previously assumed. cnet.com
best-pomade-for-men-buying-guide-gear-patrol-lead 7 Pomades To Try Now
You don’t need a pompadour to rock some pomade. Here are seven of the best to try now. Read this story
HP-Pavillion-Mini-Gear-Patrol HP Pavilion Mini and Stream Mini Desktops
It feels like just yesterday we were flipping through a thick magazine full of giant beige boxes, pondering which gargantuan machine would fit the bill. Now, we’re looking at full-fledged Windows-based computers that are only marginally larger than one’s palm. While desktops are undoubtedly on their way out, there’s plenty of opportunity for HP’s $300 puck computers to work magic in small businesses, home offices, libraries, and the like. And look — it’s incredibly cute. hp.com
A4WP-PMA-Gear-Patrol Competing Wireless Power Companies Merge

Oftentimes, enhanced competition means more great choices for consumers. In the case of wireless power, however, choices have led to fragmentation, which has led to dismal uptake in the industry. Mercifully, the two major players (A4WP and PMA) have agreed here at CES to combine their powers. Practically speaking, this should mean that the resulting entity would have more leverage to get their technology embedded into stores and gadgets. From there, we might actually consider leaving our precious cabling at home. rezence.com
GM-Onstar-Gear-Patrol OnStar’s Road to Insurance Discounts
Starting in the summer, those rolling in an OnStar-equipped vehicle will be able to trade privacy for a potential discount on their insurance. Similar to Progressive’s Snapshot, but without an added dongle, the opt-in service will allow interested drivers to enroll in a program that provides a detailed driving assessment after 90 days. For those who drive like someone with some sense, that can be used to push rates down when applying for Progressive insurance. And for less sensible drivers, OnStar will give you “driving tips” based on the test period; nothing like a bit of awkwardness to make you feel closer with your car. gm.com
netflix-reccomended-tv-gear-patrol Netflix’s “Recommended TV” Program
Itching for a new television, and want to ensure that it’s suitable for streaming? Netflix has launched a new program that’ll place “Recommended” badges on sets that it feels are above par. Executives have made clear that TVs with the badge will load Netflix and initiate streams more quickly than others, but it’s unclear as of yet which ones will be first on the list. One has to wonder if this will trigger a series of copycat moves, but it’s fairly safe to assume that a TV recommended for Netflix will handle other smart features with poise as well. netflix.com
Ford-Blueprint-for-mobility-gear-patrol Ford’s Experimental Mindset
Just as mobile carriers aren’t fond of being viewed as mere utilities, Ford is seemingly interested in being viewed as more than just an automaker. At CES, the company announced its Smart Mobility plan, a set of 25 experiments to be carried out this year in order to understand where it should be heading in the near future. It’ll test out unproven projects in connectivity, mobility, and autonomous control, which ought to make that 2015 vehicle you just purchased look incredibly outdated in record time. ford.com
Samsung-SUHD-Gear-Patrol Samsung’s SUHD Televisions
It’s easy to become jaded when it comes to TVs. Every single year, ginormous sets take up residence all across the halls of CES, and occasionally, it’s tough to tell what makes one better than another. We’ve reached a point where even the worst TVs look great, but Samsung’s SUHD line truly is remarkable. The design is simply stunning in person, and a whole bunch of technobabble makes clear why the image quality is unlike anything else we’ve seen in the 4K universe. To boot, each SUHD set utilizes its homegrown Tizen operating system, which looks an awful lot like LG’s webOS. Not that we’re complaining. samsung.com
Sony-NW-ZX2-Gear-Patrol Sony’s NW-ZX2 Hi-Res Walkman
The Walkman is back, though it’ll cost you a small fortune to obtain one. Those with audiophile ambitions will appreciate the NW-ZX2 Hi-Res’ ability to pump out lossless audio with precision, and the 33-hour battery life ain’t a bad cherry to find on top. Plus, it’ll maintain quality over Bluetooth when used in conjunction with Sony’s MDR-1ABT headphones. Lastly — the MSRP is set at $1,200… just take a minute to let that sink in. sony.net
Dell-Tablet-Gear-Patrol Dell’s Venue 8 7000 Tablet
Since they went private, we haven’t heard much from Dell. Which is probably a good thing — taking time to rethink its next moves seems wise. At CES, the company delivered a jaw-droppingly thin Android tablet, the Venue 8 7000, which looks far classier than anything Dell was known for when it was public. With an 8.4-inch edge-to-edge display, 8-megapixel rear camera, and a punchy 2.3GHz Intel Atom processor, it’s a classy package for $399. $399
7-Hugs-Gear-Patrol HugOne’s Family Sleep Monitor
For whatever reason, sleep is en vogue. Or the act of talking about sleep, anyway. The adorably named Sevenhugs has revealed a hub at CES that’s meant to track sleep habits of the whole family, as opposed to most competitors that focus on individuals. HugOne ($169) syncs up with a number of Minihugs ($39 each), which are placed on one’s nightstand just across from the bed. For parents interested in acquiring a deeper understanding of their children’s sleep habits, this looks like a solid option. seven-hugs.com
Dell-XPS-13-GEar-Patrol Dell’s Redesigned XPS 13
Move over, Ultrabook — Dell’s overhauled (and as yet unpriced) XPS 13 is another thing entirely. With an outlandish “infinity display”, this highly mobile workhorse is about as beautiful as it gets for a Windows-based laptop. You’ll find so, so many pixels (3,200 x 1,800, to be exact), Intel Core processors, and video output courtesy of a mini-DisplayPort socket. At just 2.6 pounds, it’s trumpeted as the world’s smallest 13-inch laptop, but the unsung stat is this: 15 hours of battery life. dell.com
Netatmo-Welcome-Gear-Patrol Netatmo Welcome Camera
Remember when “You’re on candid camera!” was a punchline? Yeah. Here at CES, the Netatmo Welcome Camera is a tubular monitoring device that’s capable of identifying individuals. Rather than simply providing a remote view of what’s going on at one’s home, its built-in facial recognition enables a far more nuanced experience. Pricing has yet to be revealed, and we’re certainly wary of its ability to pinpoint faces after dark, but one thing is crystal clear: casino-level surveillance gear is now being glamorized and packaged up for folks just like you. netatmo.com
VW-CARPLAY-GEAR-PATROL Volkswagen Embraces CarPlay and Android Auto
It was only a matter of time, really. Why cram a computer into one’s infotainment center when your smartphone is capable of handling the heavy lifting? With smartphone saturation reaching peak levels in the US and Europe, VW is planning to support Apple’s CarPlay (which allows your iPhone to be the brains of your in-dash screen) and Android Auto (which does the same, but with Android handsets). The company may end up being the most affordable automaker to offer both by 2016 — you know, for those who can’t spring for a Ferrari or Mercedes. zdnet.com
MSI-Gear-Patrol MSI GT80 Titan SLI
Yes, it’s yet another gigantic gaming laptop, but that’s beside the point. What’s unique about this beast is the keyboard. It’s amongst the first to embed a full-on mechanical keyboard within a laptop form factor. Hardcore gamers are usually picky about their keystrokes, and most carry around an external mechanical board for LAN parties. With this, that’s one less component to lug around. The only problem? That $3,299 starting price. $3,299
Pono-Gear-Patrol Neil Young Pono Music Player
After launching last year on Kickstarter, Neil Young’s Pono high-res, high-end music player is making its proper debut at CES. It’ll ship later this month for $399, and will unfortunately require you to purchase music from a dedicated store that’s equipped with high-fidelity tracks. It’s admittedly a niche device, but for those willing to pay a little more to please their picky ears, it’s a reasonable alternative to Sony’s $1,200 NW-ZX2 Hi-Res Walkman. $399
Braven-BRV-PRO-Bluetooth-Speaker-Gear-Patrol Braven’s multifaceted BRV-PRO Bluetooth speaker
There are Bluetooth speakers, and then there are multitools that just so happen to emit audio. Braven’s BRV-PRO certainly fits into the latter category, as its ability to jam is overshadowed by its rugged, modular nature. It’s designed for weekend camping trips or rain-soaked tailgating parties, boasting an IPX7 waterproof design shielded by aircraft-grade aluminum. There’s even a USB port that can charge up phones and the like while the night ticks on. At $150, it’s a solid deal for those in search of a Bluetooth speaker that’s a notch above “dainty.” $150
LG-Twin-Wash-Washing-Machine-Gear-Patrol LG Twin Wash Washing Machine
Families, take note: LG’s doing everything it can to relieve the stress involved with washing four loads a day just to keep your children sufficiently clothed. Its Twin Wash system replaces those horrifically overpriced under-unit storage drawers with a secondary washer. Open it up, and you’ll find even more space to toss socks, towels, and whatever else needs to be cleaned. The addition of wi-fi and NFC are nifty, too, as one could tie their washer to a timer or connected mainframe in order to trigger washes when energy is least expensive. lgnewsroom.com
D-Link-AC5300-DIR-895LR-Router-Gear-Patrol D-Link AC5300 DIR-895L/R Router
In typical router fashion, D-Link’s latest doesn’t exactly roll off of the tongue, but with performance like this, who cares? Boasting a borderline comical array of antennas, the tri-band unit is capable of pushing bits and bytes at a full 5,300 Mbps. You’ll also find USB 3.0 support, a handful of Gigabit Ethernet ports, remote control, access restrictions, and all sorts of other dictations via one of the most advanced administrative panels this side of enterprise equipment. At $310, though, it’s certainly on the extreme end of what your average consumer would pay. dlink.com
eTape-Digital-Tape-Measure-Gear-Patrol eTape Digital Tape Measure
Technology-minded handymen and women, take notice. eTape’s screen-equipped tape measure might be worthy of replacing the hand-me-down you’ve been relying on for the past score. The display is capable of delivering a real-time readout of distance, and there’s a button up top that handles measurement conversions. There’s also a Bluetooth-enabled version that’ll pipe data to a smartphone for easy logging, and the $30 starting tag seems quite reasonable given the advancements. etape16.com
Connected-Cycle-Pedal-Gear-Patrol Connected Cycle Pedal
Hardcore cyclists will surely turn their noses up at the notion of adding unnecessary weight to their stallion, but casual riders will find plenty to love here. Connected Cycle’s impending smart pedal packs built-in wireless connectivity and GPS, enabling riders to easily track stolen bicycles and keep an ongoing log of fitness activity. Better still, all of the internal components are charged by the motion of pedaling, with an hour-long ride providing enough energy to power it for a couple of weeks. connectedcycle.com
Alcatel-OneTouch-Smartwatch-Gear-Patrol Alcatel OneTouch Smartwatch
It’s a Moto 360, but less expensive and compatible with iPhone. That’s an oversimplification, of course, but Alcatel’s OneTouch definitely nails the circular smartwatch motif, while its $149 price undercuts most of its competition. Unfortunately, the fancier Android Wear and voice-controlled amenities found on pricier watches aren’t found here, but it will offer a heart rate monitor, accelerometer, gyroscope, altimeter and e-compass. It should pop up on Amazon in March, possibly coinciding with the launch of this other Apple-compatible watch you may have heard of. alcatelonetouch.com
August-Connect-Gear-Patrol August Connect
August’s smart lock was surely gorgeous, but its reliance on Bluetooth meant that you could only interact with it when you were home. For those yearning for extra functionality, the $50 Connect is a socket adapter that adds wi-fi to the original lock. In theory, this will enable users to remotely control the lock from anywhere in the world, and if developers take notice, it could also be triggered by other connected devices through apps such as IFTTT. $50
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