Consumer Electronics Show Stories January 2, 2014

Today, the Consumer Electronics Association announced that it will be using Apple’s new iBeacon technology to host a unique scavenger hunt of sorts at its International CES event scheduled for next week. Using the official CES mobile apps for iOS or Android, attendees will be able to collect badges for encountering the location-aware Bluetooth iBeacons placed throughout the CES showfloor. CEA is using a Bluetooth iBeacon development kit from  Radius Networks (pictured above) and Texas Instruments’ SensorTag technology. It hopes the scavenger hunt will encourage attendees to explore more areas of the show. expand full story

Consumer Electronics Show Stories January 14, 2013

There were more than a few Bluetooth-enabled smart watches on display at CES this year. We were on-hand for the official press unveiling of the Pebble e-paper watch, which is expected to start shipping to over 80,000 backers later this month. We also spotted Martian Watches, CooKoo, I’mWatch, and a small handful of other watches designed to pair and work with your iPhone or other mobile devices. Many have seen the Pebble, up until now, as the frontrunner mainly due to the 10 million in funding it raised through Kickstarter. While rumor has it Apple is interested in creating a smart watch of its own, we will hear a lot more about smart watches in 2013 if CES is any indication. Over the past week and a half, I had the chance to put one of these smart watches to the test: the Bluetooth 4.0 “Passport” from Martian Watches.

A few things to note right off the bat: First, unlike the Pebble and I’m Watch, which integrate a larger display, the focus of Martian Watches is voice command. There is some debate whether a smart watch, one that the average iPhone user might use on a daily basis, should resemble an iPod nano-like touchscreen or a more traditional timepiece design. Martian Watches is going with the latter, but it integrates a small 96-by-16 pixel OLED display capable of displaying notifications and scrolling text for incoming messages and calls.

While Pebble and others hope to create an ecosystem of third-party apps that can run on small, touch-enabled displays, the name of the game is voice command for Martian Watches. That means, in the case of iPhone users, you’ll be able to activate and control Siri right from your wrist. It also means as Siri improves and adds more functionality, your Martian Watch does too. However, Martian packs some other non-Siri features that make it a true competitor to the other Bluetooth smart watches hitting the market…

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Consumer Electronics Show Stories January 9, 2013

Amongst the crowded booths of case makers and Bluetooth speaker products at CES, today we came across a few interesting new iOS accessories hitting the market in the near future. The first is the i-Massager from China-based company E-Tek. The i-Massager is a certified medical TENS product (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) that uses an iPhone app to control the frequency and intensity of the massaging pulsations it emits. The app will be available on the App Store when the product eventually launches sometime in March, and it provides access to preset massage patterns while also allowing you to fine tune the experience and even save your preference to the unit for use without your iPhone at a later date. There will be a 30-pin version of the product for iPhone 4/4S and iPad 3, but also a Bluetooth variant that will launch for compatibility with Lightning iOS devices. The company hasn’t set a retail price, but hinted it should be well under $100.

The i-Massager wasn’t the only iOS-connected massage product being shown off at CES today. Below is a product called iMusic BodyRhythm. It is a massaging vest that syncs with the music on your iOS device. The product launched on a Kickstarter this morning, and it comes with a companion app that will allow you to select a song to sync the massage to, increase the intensity, and even play drums or shake the device to control the thumping of the massage while playing along to a song. You’ll also be able to use the massage vest without syncing it to music or an app. iMusic BodyRhythm is supposed to hit mass production for $149 retail in March, but we went hands-on today at CES:

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Consumer Electronics Show Stories January 8, 2013

Live from the CES show floor at the Las Vegas convention center, accessory maker Incipio just finished showing us their new product for iPhone. Known as a Cashwrap, and landing in March 2013, it is an NFC-enabled iPhone case that allows iOS users to take advantage of the ISIS Mobile Wallet service that officially launched in October on AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon for NFC-enabled Android devices in select regions. Incipio also informed us that it has teamed up with AT&T on the project—making Cashwrap AT&T’s ISIS solution for iPhone coming.

The product will launch for iPhone 4 and 4S initially and will be available for sale through AT&T brick-and-mortar locations for $60 to $70. Incipio’s full press release and a short video of the Cashwrap up close and personal from the CES show floor below: expand full story

Trade-in value on broken iPhone 4S as much as mint condition Galaxy S2

Here are some interesting charts from Gazelle at CES that compare trade-in values of the iPhone versus the competition. As you can see from the images above and below, the iPhone, like many Apple products, have tendency of retaining a higher trade-in value longer than other devices. In many situations, months after the release of a device, a broken iPhone 4S with a completely shattered display is worth more or about the same as a seemingly mint condition Galaxy S2 or Galaxy Nexus. A gallery of all the stats Gazelle had on display at CES is below:

ThinShield, the world’s lightest and thinnest iPhone 5 case

Sanho, the company behind the HyperJuice external battery products for Mac that we’ve reviewed in the past, just unveiled its latest lineup of products at CES 2013. While introducing some minor updates to its HyperJuice 2 unit (it’s now 12W instead of 10W), as well as the second generation of its iUSBport product (now with two USB ports), I was surprisingly most impressed by its new eco-friendly polypropylene iPhone 5 case…

At just 0.3mm thin, ThinShield is the world’s lightest and thinnest case, according to Sanho, and will land in Q1 for just $20. Normally, I do not use a case on my iPhone 5 (I opt for a leather sleeve instead), mainly because of the extra bulk it adds to the device. Good news for those that come from the same line of thinking: the ThinShield is barely noticeable, especially when throwing black on black or white on white (depending on your iPhone color). Thanks to ThinShield, you’ll soon be able to get scratch and dirt protection while still being able to enjoy the design Apple intended. I’ll be first in line.

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