CES 2012 - Our pick of the best new products

The annual Consumer Electronics Show wrapped up in Las Vegas a short while ago, and while many feel that this year lacked any great 'Wow' products, there certainly was a lot to be impressed by. A recurring theme was connectivity, with smart TVs, conversational appliances and clever cars being everywhere, and mobile connectivity to keep punters connected to their other devices 24/7. It's no wonder there's now a growing movement towards 'slow media' - the old school approach to entertainment - of books, vinyl, perhaps even a chat over a cup of tea! Don't get us wrong - we love our gadgets and technology. We just think that sometimes the manufacturers assume we're more interested in digital life than the real thing. Oh well, enough of a rant! Let's take a look at some of the coolest toys to come out of CES 2012. And if you have any others to add (or comments relating to the rant above!), jump over to our Facebook page and let us know!


For many, the highlight of CES 2012 was the preview of two OLED Television by LG and Samsung. The LG offering was a 55" screen that's only 4mm thick and weighs just 7.5 kilos. Samsung's 55" model wasn't quite as svelte but the picture quality was a shade better. In either case, the contrast and colour was spectacular, with the blackest blacks possible and quoted contrast ratios of 100 million:1. No pricing or availability down under is available at this time but the US$8,000 asking price will likely translate to over $10k here. Panasonic held the Plasma banner high with the stunning 'Infinite Black' VT50 series. Proving that plasma isn't going anywhere yet, this TV (and the rest in the 2012 line-up) impressed with deep rich blacks and natural colour and movement. Web connected with DLNA and 3D, and a smartphone app for entering text without a keyboard when online - nice. Again, no local pricing or availability. A big theme at CES was 4k TVs and projectors - offering four times the resolution of conventional 1080p HD. Is this a triumph of technology over reason? Given that the human eye has limited ability to resolve detail over distance, you'd need a mighty big screen to be able to tell the difference. Oh...now we get it!


For sheer-sci-fi fun, the Samsung Smart Window wins hands-down. It's a transparent touchscreen display that can be applied to windows up to 46" diagonal, and fed by HDMI or USB. It's a real product too, going into production next month, so we can expect to see some interesting applications very soon, perhaps in vehicles, offices, fish tanks... iPad rockers will love the Ion Audio Guitar Apprentice, a bolt-on guitar for the iPad that not only lets you rock out while looking silly, but will teach you to play with an illuminated fretboard to show you where to put your fingers. Is that the sound of millions of budding rock gods plugging in, or just Leo Fender turning in his grave? Impressive for its elegant simplicity, the Griffin Twenty is a device that you plug an Apple Airport Express into that decodes the digital audio, amplifies it and sends it to any pair of speakers. For a simple way to stream music around the house (if you have some unused speakers lying around), it brilliant.


Both Audi and Mercedes wowed show-goers with displays of future-tech in their cars. Audi showed off a heads-up display system that allows a passenger to look something up on their own display, say a restaurant location, then swipe it to a central display using gesture control to give the driver a navigation aid. The Audi system also uses voice commands and has full Google Earth integration, powered by a NVIDIA quad-core chipset. Mercedes also showed off gesture controls (doesn't anyone keep their hands on the wheel in Germany?) as part of their MBrace 2 system. MBrace 2 combines many popular apps in the dashboard display, all integrated with the navigation system. Included are Facebook, Yelp, Google Search and Street View - fortunately most of these are blocked while the car is moving!

Everything Else

Ultrabooks were huge at CES, with every man & his dog showing off slim, light laptops with long long battery life. Smartphones were everywhere also, with a slew of new powerful models on display. And of course a gazillion gadgets and accessories to go with them - especially for iPhone - far too many to mention. What have we missed? And what would you be inclined to buy in 2012? Let us know on our Facebook page - or come into the store for a chat and a coffee!