LAS VEGAS — Here at the Consumer Electronic Show, there have been a lot of phablets and TVs and phones and the usual upgrades. And, you know, Snooki. But from a slightly less dorky version of the Segway to an electronic fireplace, a few new products have been out of the ordinary enough to catch our eye on the floor.
The home appliance company got pretty high-tech this week: In addition to a fridge that played Adel, Whirlpool offered this concept of a "fireplace" that's more like a Benihana for your kitchen. The table-top device has a hot plate in the center, with a touchable outer rim that lights up on demand. Twist your beverage clockwise and the table gently warms it from below; twist your glass the other way and it cools down. Above is a fume hood with cameras that can read the hand gestures of people sitting around the table. Yes, the Whirlpool Fireplace is only a concept right now with red lights standing in for actual heat, but who could resist a glowing ovular table — part Swiss fondue night, part California fire pit — right there in your home? Here's a quick video demo:
Currie Technologies' eFlow E3 Nitro Bicycle
There are plenty of geeks walking from their hotels to the many halls of the convention center here. And, sure, there are a couple of guys on beat-up bikes with baskets full of strip-club flyers rolling around. But the folks from this 15-year-old electric bike company are the only real cyclists in town. The new E3 Nitro, which will be available in March for a cool $4,000, comes with a giant battery in the frame — right under your butt, so weight is balanced. The 500-watt silent rear cassette hub motor can either power the bike completely, or offer power assistance. And it has restorative braking, just like your mom's Prius.
Speaking of alternative transportation: "Isn't that a Segway knockoff?" This was a question asked more than once walking by these guys in the hall. (Just think of all the discussions about intellectual property you'll have once you get one of these!) And, well, of course it isn't — as this demo expert explained, the Segway has four gyroscopes, and the Robostep has only one. Plus its upright bit wiggles side-to-side, like a unicycle, but a lot cooler than. As far as we can see tell, it does pretty much everything a Segway does, for $3,000. The "vehicle" comes Song Shan Lake, China, with the company behind the Robostep looking for a U.S. distributor at CES and beyond.
Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon 27 Table PC
This one's been talked up since CES began, but we couldn't resist: Coffee-table computers cost ten grand a year ago, and now you can get them for $1,699. This 10-finger touc screen makes huddling 'round the tablet with the fam very much a thing — a single-screen family has been a big message at the show. This video pretty much says it all, really:
It's fantasy, sure, but the Horizon actually could actually deliver on the cozy future of table-top computing — if it didn't weigh 18 pounds.
...and Munito's "Tactical" 9mm Earphones
Maybe you can't wear that NRA hat without getting funny looks anymore, but if you're still into the Second Amendment after the last few weeks, might as well try these headphones. They're a lot safer than the real thing, and not quite as tacky or offensive as other gun paraphernalia.