CES 2011: The Best, The Worst, And The Just Plain Cool

by Mara Siegler · January 11, 2011

    CES came and went in a blaze of gizmos, gadgets, endless tablets, superphones, robotic thingamajigs and doodads that require a degree in rocket science to understand. We've waded through the dispatches from Vegas to find the best, the worst, and the oh so cool.

    The Best

    There was a ton of good stuff unveiled when it comes to tablets and TVs and phones and cameras, but here are a few from different categories that may have been overlooked.

    The Seal Shield Washable Keyboards are pretty self-explanatory. They are keyboards and mouses you can stick in your dishwasher or douse in your offices sink to clean off the crumbs from lunch that you have once again eaten at your desk. I'll admit that as a smoker, I get ash stuck in between the keys on a constant daily basis and would love to just spray off the space between the "j" and "k" button instead of forcefully blowing on them and turning my keyboard upside down. They also make a waterproof TV remote control.

    emPower! PixelOptics' are set to do away with bifocals. The glasses offer up better field of view and less distortion than traditional lenses "by sandwiching an LCD-like layer in the glass that can be focused with an electrical charge," reports Engadget. They're activated by a swipe of the finger. If James Bond wore glasses, he'd wear these.

    The Worst

    The Heated Mouse Pad. Sure if your working from somewhere super cold this could come in handy, but if you are really that freezing, wouldn't you just move to somewhere with heat? Clearly, this specific cartoon face model is for kids which conjures up the sad image of little Timmy shivering away in a classroom trying to get his History of America homework done as he lets loose a tiny asthmatic cough and searches his pockets for a Saltine only to realize its fallen through one of the many holes. The he shivers and sticks his hand into his heated mouse pad and starts to cry.

    Sony is now selling a sock case for your camera that wont protect it if it's bumped or dropped. Also, your sock, the one that has lost its partner in a mysterious disappearance from the washing machine (though you suspect the woman who works at the laundromat is hoarding left foots for later ransom), is much cheaper.

    eCoupled, the company who also brought the very awesome wireless heating technology that can be used to cook a can of soup, has done wonders for cereal packing by creating boxes that light up. While it's gotten plenty of play on tech blogs for being the coolest thing ever and oh so pretty (here's video), I highly suspect its just a ploy to get kids to eat sugary cereal. I am way older than 7, and I would throw a tantrum if my mom wanted to buy me  the plain old, non-luminous plastic bag of Toasty O's instead of shiny, glowing Cheerios.  Plus, if this ends up becoming a trend do you really want to wear your Ray Bans while grocery shopping. Yeah, maybe for the fashion of it or to ease your hangover, but not to shield your eyes from blinking packages of frozen vegetables.

    The Cool

    I Am T-Pain Microphone. I don't really throw parties at my apartment but if I did, I would forgo the chips and dip and invest in this nifty toy. Costing just $40, we're guessing this works a lot like the T Pain iPhone app only more expensive. You sing in it and it autotunes your voice.  It also comes with beats by the singer installed so you can record yourself over them, has MP3 compatibility and a 'Download and Share' option.  This doesn't have to just be for group gatherings. Use it to order food at the drive-thru, to whisper "I love you," to your girlfriend right after having sex, or calling up your boss and shouting "I-I-I- quiiiitttt ," into it. Make sure you film it all for YouTube. The possibilities are endless.

    The Guangzhou Taiji Electronics ArtPro Nail Printer line doesn't just allow you to come up with ultra-intricate nail designs, but it paints them for you. Enjoy waiting for your nails to dry in the comfort of your own home instead of flipping through some crusty old magazine at the corner nail salon. It sounds simple. You apparently just put on a few coats of base polish, stick your hand in and wait for the inkjet to spray out flowers and initials and maybe even some hearts and polka dots. If you are Lindsay Lohan you won't have to write "Fuck You' on your middle finger all by yourself. This is the perfect gift for the woman who has literally, everything.

    The iGrill is a meat thermometer that connects to a counter-top appliance and tells iOS devices via Bluetooth the temp of your steak making sure your dinner (or breakfast or lunch or snack, what have you) is cooked to perfection every time. Need I say more? No.

    If you don't like strangers touching you or can't afford a massage as often as you want and can't convince your significant other to give you one more, for just five minutes, pllleeeaaasseee, or are single, then this robotic massager could be for you. The pair of pulsating hands is supposed to relax the body when stuck to your sore spots. Kind of weird and freaky, but also pretty cool.

    The GM EN-V looks like the kind of thing Batman would cruise around in. It runs on electric power and the body of the car "slides forward or backward to balance, and to go forward the body simply leans forward -- just like someone on a Segway," says Engadget.There may not be trunk space, but this could be the car of the future, especially for city dwellers. Aside from just freeing up parking by condensing the mount of space needed, these cars can talk to each other KITT-style using information that allows them to automatically brake and avoid  one another or follow each other. Oh yeah, and speaking of parking. It can do that itself.