Hey folks Valkor here with Day 3 of CES 2008. And on this day it’s all about the Sands baby. This is the spot where you’ll find new, up and coming products not seen anywhere else and since Innovations started in 2006 I’ve always enjoyed visiting the Sands and getting hands on with new products. This year is no exception, adding on even more companies. If you ever get the chance to visit CES make sure to add Sands Innovations to your itinerary, you will not be disappointed. So let’s get down to it and preview some product.
The folks over at Genius had a wide assortment of products on display, mostly audio and most on gaming, which definitely drew my attention. First up is the Genius BT-03I Bluetooth headsets with a touch interface, which also won a CES 2008 Innovations Design and Engineering award. Not sure how they work because they did not have one for use, but they were damn proud of that award. Next up, and it’s a piece I did get to toy with was the 2.1ch touch speakers. Unique in design, with just a touch you can lower raise the volume, play with the equalizer so you get different kinds of audio effects to your music such as classic, rock, jazz, and more. Plus they sound great considering the open area of the hall. Lastly they had a slew of gaming products that would look great in the GameView section and it’s quite possible you’ll see them featured.
When you get a pair of speakers with awesome sound, it’s like that first time having sex… a bit awkward at first but oh man the pay off is intense. Going into the world of Airsounds, I was a bit standoffish because I kinda went in blindly. Yes I got the press release in my email, but too many times I’ve been burned with the promise of “being better than Bose”. Well the folks at Airsound know exactly how to make and KEEP their promise because the Airsound is great and all that goodness came out of just one speaker. Testing it with music is ok, but I wanna blow it up with some serious gaming and explosive movies. But overall I am impressed and this will be one to watch.
Gamers rejoice as AblePlanet has a pair of noise cancelling headphones (The NC500LC with LINX audio technology) that really drown out all the sound around you, completely immersing you in your game. Not only that but the sound quality and clarity you goes above and beyond amazing. Of course this is based on floor testing so before we can really determine just how good these headphones really are.
Going into CES 2007 we did a review for a pair of video eyeglasses from a company called MyVue, which were decent but the screen you can when you put on the glasses seemed to small to really enjoy your film fully. Enter Lumus. They have the same concept similar to MyVue where you are not completely immersed in the film and you can see what’s happening behind the image. However depending on where you are looking you will get a bigger image. So if you are on the beach wearing your Lumus glasses, looking off into the horizon, you will get a much bigger image. However I will give MyVue credit as they have a much sharper image. But the Lumus are still in prototype stage and we will see how it improves upon release.
I remember watching a Youtube video where someone claimed they had made an HD speaker out of a paper plate, a simple headphone wire, and a penny. Of course in the video the test was a success, but in actuality well it… doesn’t really work. That’s how it feels when I visited with Psychoacoustics… well sorta. Psychoacoustics has created a technology that can compress 5.1 surround sound and making it so you can hear it through a simple pair of headphone speakers, or one wave speaker such as the one Bose makes. The speaker they say were simple 8 dollar speakers from radio Shack and the speaker was something homemade. I honestly didn’t get to hear the headphones but the speaker was amazing. Kudos for showing off sound the right way, with Star Wars. I wish other companies would do the same, because that’s how I test audio projects in the Val-cave. (Star Wars and Polar Express). Now the folks at Psychoacoustics don’t want to sell the speakers or the headphones, they want to sell the technology. So if you’re a big audio company looking to test out some new tech then look no further than these guys.
Speech is now integral part of the gaming experience. There are a slew of online games that require you to use a mic so that you can communicate with the other player, especially in a co op. With Simon Audio’s SA-300G you’re not tethered down by a wire, plus you get a great audio experience to boot. With my Val-cave set up, wireless is key. so we’ll definitely keep an eye on Simon and see how well it handles in the cave.
Now I have saved the best for last. And I’m not kidding stopping by 3DV Systems booth was an experience like none other that I had at the Sands. The ZCam is much like the Playstation EyeToy. With ZCam is a webcam where you use your body to interact with a computer environment. To test this out 3DV had a boxing Shadowboxing game where you can see yourself against an opponent and the response was spot on. I’ve never seen such a device with such accurate detection to the point where just about every punch, jab, and uppercut I threw hit the mark. And when I was done I wanted more. It doesn’t just do gaming it can be used for other applications such as web-conferencing and PC control. When this baby ships it will include the boxing game along with others and I cannot wait for the finished product. ZCam is definitely the one to watch.
We’ve got one more in the eyewear department and it looks to be the best of the bunch as immersion is what these glasses are all about. Enter Vuzix and their line up of media eyewear starting with the AV920-C, meant for gaming consoles (PS2, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, etc). With the AV920-C, if you don’t have a big screen TV, then you do now because the AV920-C gives you a 62” TV feel, that really draws you into the action, especially if you’re into first person shooters. Best part is, if you have 4 AV920-C’s you can daisy chain them together and each person gets their own screen making the action personal to each player and more intense as you don’t have to fight over a 4 way split screen (which I’ve never been a fan of… EVER). Headphones extend off the side to complete the immersion process or, as I was told, you can use your own great headsets by plugging them into the audio out connect to the glasses. Vuzix has other models to choose from as well. You get the Vuzix Iwear IP230 made specifally for your IPod with video, so you can watch all your movies and music video with a big screen appearance wherever you go. The AV230 is a universal viewer meant for IPods, other media players, gaming, movie watching and more. Finally you have the iWear VR920 made specifically for PC gaming with its 3 Degrees of Freedom (DOF) that allows you to use your head a controller to see left, right, up down and even behind you. I tried it on Microsofts Flight Simulator and it worked great. I’d live to try something more hardcore such as BattleField, Unreal, or World of Warcraft. By far the VR920 was the showstopper for me and yea look for a full review coming to GameView soon.
The end of the evening lead to the Hard Rock Casino for Sony's party of their Texas Hold Em party and unveiling of their hot new MMORPG "Pirates of the Burning Seas". It was pretty cool party with lots of food, drinks, desserts, and all the poker you can take. I'm more of a blackjack guy myself, but hey gambling is gambling. They had a pretty wild stage show with fire dancers and then afterwards, it was over to the Body Lounge for some club action. Ahhh good times. Ok on to Day Four.