SLIDESHOW

CES 2012: Gadgets Parade Begins

CES 2012 is all about Ultrabooks, tablets, enormous HDTVs, and of course cool and quirky gadgets. Here's what's hot one day before the official gadget confab begins.

CES 2012: Let the Gadget Parade Begin

CES 2012 starts officially on Tuesday, but on Monday some companies got a jump on the trade show. LG, for instance, announced an eye-popping 55-inch OLED TV. Meanwhile, TV maker Vizio announced an impressive new line of thin-and-light laptops and desktops. And from the quirky department, a company called SpareOne debuted a phone that can hold a charge for 15 years.

Follow PCWorld editors' exploits at the show by checking out our CES 2012 hub, or take a brief tour of Monday's CES highlights here.

Fructel’s Gametel Controller

Want to turn your Android or iOS device into a serious portable gaming device? A company called Fructel has created a gaming accessory that attaches to your smartphone and gives you a set of physical game controls, making it a lot easier to play games on the go. The accessory works on Android smartphones running Android 2.1 or later, as well as on the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad.

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Lenovo Pushes Into the World of Smartphones and TVs

Lenovo has released its first smartphone, the S2, running a custom version of the Android OS. With the S2, Lenovo is trying to separate itself from the Android smartphone pack by including advanced mobile security to ward off phishing attacks, as well as by integrating cloud services.

On the boob-tube front, Lenovo seems to be stealing a page from Apple's TV playbook. Lenovo announced Monday a new smart TV that runs Android 4.0 for apps and includes voice control and console-quality gaming capabilities, as well as flicker-free 3D capability. Lenovo’s smart-TV debut will join other Google Android-enabled TV sets from LG, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio, all of which are hoping to beat Apple's TV strategy.

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GoPano Micro

EyeSee360’s GoPano Micro is a case, attachment, and software combination that turns your iPhone 4 or 4S into an odd-looking but effective 360-degree camcorder, all for $80. Put your iPhone into the case (which looks pretty ordinary and doesn’t interfere with regular iPhone use), snap the cone-shaped lens onto the camera opening on the back of the phone, and then run the free app to capture the action in all directions simultaneously.

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Samsung Reveals Galaxy Note

The Galaxy Note is an Android-based Samsung smartphone with an enormous, 5.3-inch, 1280-by-800-pixel-resolution HD Super AMOLED display. What makes this phone unique is its accompanying Wacom-made "S Pen" for note-taking and drawing. Wacom pens recognize both right-handed and left-handed users, and the Note's pen also mimics the act of physically taking notes.

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iCade Now Fits in Your Hand

The iCade offers a set of basic arcade controls for iPads, but now it comes in a slimmer version made just for iPhones, letting you play games on your phone with a nice set of physical controls.

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Intel Ultrabook Hybrid Notebook Tablets

Intel is pushing its Ultrabook class of thin-and-light laptops heavily here at CES. But it's also trying to introduce a new class of convertible Ultrabooks that can shape-shift into tablets.

Here on Monday, Intel employees showed off various Ultrabooks and Ultrabook prototypes that use touchscreens. Some, with a few twists of the display, transform into a touchscreen-based tablet.

Pictured here is an Ultrabook prototype that closes, effectively converting into a tablet.

Photo credit: Computerworld.com

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Cubify Brings 3D Printing Closer to the Mainstream

Cubify, one of the first entry-level 3D printer platforms, tries to make it easy to print objects that you create yourself or that you swap with friends and the larger Cubify community. Cubify's maker, 3D Systems, says that it will sell Cube 3D printers priced at $1299 that each come with a cartridge of plastic available in ten colors. The printer measures 14 by 14 by 18 inches, weighs 9 pounds, and can print about 10 to 12 "average-size" parts.

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Toshiba Excite X10

Toshiba is billing its new Android-based Excite X10 as the world's thinnest and lightest 10.1-inch tablet. It weighs just 1.18 pounds, and measures only 0.3 inch thick.

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Two Razor-Thin Android 4.0 Smartphones

The new Ascend handsets by Huawei, the P1 and the P1 S, claim to be the world's slimmest smartphones. Both models come with the most recent version of Android's operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich.

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Sony PlayStation Vita

The wait is over--almost. The highly anticipated Sony PlayStation Vita--the company's replacement for the PSP--debuted in Japan earlier this year, but next month it is finally coming to U.S. shores for $300. It will be the first handheld gaming device available from a carrier, offering both Wi-Fi and AT&T 3G connectivity.

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Dropcam HD Wi-Fi Camera

Dropcam is a camcorder that connects to your wireless network and allows you to monitor what it sees from your smartphone, so you can be out and about but maintain a constant view of what's going on at home.

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Two Impressive Kodak Cameras

Kodak announced two impressive cameras on Monday, both priced below $200. The first is Kodak's Playfull Dual hybrid still/video camera (left), which sports some of the best specs we've seen in a pocket camcorder. The other is the Wi-Fi-enabled Kodak EasyShare M750 (right), which allows users to upload photos directly from the camera and pairs up with smartphones via a peer-to-peer connection.

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Tobii

Sweden-based Tobii Technology has developed eye-tracking technology that allows you to control your laptop and other devices using only your eyes. That's what that strange strip below the screen is for. Go ahead and stare!

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Vizio to Enter PC Market

Vizio, the flat-panel-TV maker known for its sleek designs and bargain prices, is entering the PC business with a range of thin-and-light laptops and all-in-one desktops. The company's capability to obtain screens for a low cost could allow it to undercut competitors' prices and shake up the PC market.

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LG's 55-Inch OLED TV

LG has introduced its new lineup of smart large-screen 3D TVs, including one impressive model with a mammoth 55-inch OLED display that is as impressive-looking as it is thin.

The smart TVs LG showed in Las Vegas on Monday also include a model running NetCast, LG’s own smart-TV platform (on 60 percent of LG TVs) with more than 1200 apps, as well as a model that has Google’s TV OS. LG’s Google TV here at CES is also equipped with 3D technology: Any 2D TV program or movie becomes viewable in 3D by way of the built-in 2D-to-3D conversion engine.

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New Iomega Network Storage Gear

Iomega announced its latest storage offerings that can plug into a network and remain accessible from any connected PCs or devices. Iomega's StorCenter ix2 network-attached storage device (shown here) targets small businesses in search of a flexible product that supports PC-free video surveillance and major cloud-backup services. The company's consumer-friendly version of the device, called the EZ Media & Backup, provides an array of home-oriented features such as built-in support for Torrent, Time Machine, and easy posting to popular social media sites.

The new Iomega network-storage gear starts at $220 for the 1TB EZ Media & Backup model.

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Escort Live Protects You From Speed Traps

Social networks are everywhere, but here's one that's actually kind of useful. Escort Live is a "social network for the road" that aims to protect drivers from speeding tickets.

Here's how it works: You're driving down the road, and your Escort radar detector (which costs about $540) picks up a police laser signal. You slow down, naturally, so as not to get caught. Your radar detector then sends a message to the SmartCord, which plugs into your car's cigarette lighter and pairs with your Android or iOS device. A message pops up on your smartphone: Do you want to report this speed trap, or not?

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Lenovo Quad-Core IdeaTab K2 Multimedia Tablet

Lenovo's 10-inch IdeaTab K2 tablet is designed for gaming and multimedia. It has a quad-core ARM processor for superior speed, plus a premium IPS display similar to the one found on Apple's iPad. The pricing is not yet available.

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This Mobile Phone Holds Its Charge…For 15 Years

If you're a tad skeptical of this CES announcement, well, you're certainly not alone. XPAL Power, a manufacturer of mobile phone accessories, has announced the SpareOne, a new cell phone that the company says can hold its charge for up to 15 years.

The $50 SpareOne is slated to ship this quarter in the United States. The dual-band GSM handset uses a single, off-the-shelf AA (alkaline, NiMH, or lithium) battery. It comes with an Energizer Ultimate Lithium L91 battery, which allows the phone to hold its charge, if unused, for up to 15 years, the company claims. Talk time lasts for up to 10 hours.

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