Tag Archives: earl grey

“Star Trek”-worthy Products from CES 2015

Those 170,000 captives and 3,600 exhibitors have finally escaped the 2.2 million square feet and unrelenting hype of the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show. Thousands of new products were introduced, demoed and otherwise bandied about. However, to prevent a mental core meltdown, here are just a few items from this year’s popular categories that can really make a Trekker stop and fantasize.

Virtual Reality

holodeckWe’re not in Holodeck territory yet, but Virtual Reality technology impressed some people at CES this year, while others griped that the offerings are still too passive. Oculus, now owned by Facebook, wowed attendees with a preview of the Crescent Bay prototype and its $200 Samsung Gear VR for the Galaxy Note 4. Another company, Razer, part of the Open-Source Virtual Reality ecosystem, has a $200 OSVR Hacker Dev Kit coming out this June for developers who want to dive into VR gaming. While it’s not quite a VR experience, Samsung also showed off the prototype of an 8K TV with a 110-inch screen and a 3D feature that didn’t require you to wear dorky glasses.

Big TVs

screenAs expected, CES 2015 had a ton of 4K Ultra High Definition TVs that would look right at home on the bridge of a starship so you could yell at pesky Romulans from the comfort of your captain’s chair. Samsung, for example, has blown by mere UHD and was showing off its fancy new SUHD TV sets, which offer more color, better contrast, curved panels and brighter displays than regular UHD TVs, all thanks to quantum dots, (or nanocrystals) that boost the image quality. But Samsung is not Boss of the Q-Dots, by any means — LG Electronics has its own quantum dot TVs and Sony brags of its Triluminos technology which is basically the same thing. High Dynamic Range video — which goes beyond what we all know from our smartphone camera apps — is coming to TVs full-force as well. Warner Brothers has a few movies coming out in Dolby Vision HDR and companies like Panasonic, Philips, Samsung and Sony are have compatible hardware hardware.


badgeNo universal translator or combadge yet, but everybody and their grandmother’s startup seemed to have a wearable fitness tracker or smartwatch on the CES show floor. And to go with the smart shirts we saw last tear, Sensoria also introduced sensor-filled Smart Socks for runners that monitor things like foot-landing and cadence. The initial bundle of socks, charger, mobile app and other gear is listed at $200.

3D Printers

replicattorIt’s not a full replicator and you can’t get a steaming cup when you bark “Tea! Earl Grey. Hot” into it, but the 3D Food Printer from XYZprinting or the Foodini from Natural Machines let you make three-dimensional shapes for things like cookies, pizza, pasta and other baked goods. Once you put in the ingredients and punch in the design of your food — which you can also load from a USB drive or the Web — the machine forms your edible item according to plan and outputs it. The next step is usually baking. The 3D Food Printer is expected later this year and will likely cost around $2000.  The Foodini, based in Europe, is expected to go into production this year and cost around $1,300. Just try not playing with your food.

Connected Devices

If you want that Picard-worthy hot Earl Grey tea, however, there’s always the  WiFi-enabled kettle from Smarter. It comes with a mobile app so you can start the kettle boiling remotely. And yes, you can yell “Make it so!” as you put the kettle on from afar.


5 Low-Tech Geek Gift Ideas

Need a holiday gift for the technology enthusiast in your life, but you’re not sure what platform to buy for? Want to skip the whole iTunes/Amazon/Red Lobster prepaid card thing? Overwhelmed by the sheer number of phone and tablet cases out there?

Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

1. Tablets are great for reading ebooks or watching videos in bed, but who wants to hold the darn thing up the whole time, especially when trying to relax? The $33 Peeramid Pillow is great for propping up your tablet — or even a hefty treeware tome — when one is inclined to recline.

2. Crazy weather and power outages can happen anywhere and you know how we get when our phone batteries slip into the red zone. If your gift sense leans toward the practical, consider a deluxe combination USB charger/radio/LED flashlight powered by solar panels or hand cracking; the $60 Eton FRX3 fits the bill — and you can also connect an MP3 player to pump out some tunes in the dark. The company makes several other charger models branded by the American Red Cross as well.

3. If you’ve got a radio lover in the family, consider a portable Wi-Fi model like the Mutant Innovation M-Wavio, which you can pick up online for around $80 from sites like NewEgg and Amazon. Once connected to a wireless network, this little baby can pull in streams from about 12,000 radio stations around the world, including those from the BBC, Deutsche Welle, Radio France and other international broadcasters. You can also tap into college radio stations from around the country, specialty streams and some Internet-only stations. And if the power goes out, flip the radio over to the regular FM band to get live news and make sure the zombies haven’t gone all apocalypse now.

4. For those young learners and engineers-to-be, check out the many educational kits from Radio Shack, like the $15 Tin Can Robot, the $13 Velleman Traffic Light Kit and the $70 Electronics Learning Lab. Science is the most fun when you can do it yourself and see it in action.

5. If the programmer on your list eschews the traditional can of Red Bull for a more stately approach to caffeine consumption, there’s the $20 Star Wars Death Star Tea Infuser, designed to brew up that cuppa with Imperial flair. And if you’re not shy about mixing movie franchises, you can back-order a $15 tin of officially licensed Star Trek Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. — which should be back in stock from ThinkGeek around January 4th. (Hmmm, January 4th. Why does that date seem so familiar? Oh…yeah.)