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Gadgets aplenty at Consumer Electronics Show

Frank Gorman of Gorman & Williams was in Las Vegas last week for the annual Consumer Electronics Show. On Friday, the intellectual property lawyer offered an overview of the expo. Today, he provides a list of gadgets and products that grabbed his attention.

CES 2011 ended Sunday. More than 130,000 registered attendees walked through 1.5 million square feet of exhibit space looking at a wide range of consumer electronic products. While it is impossible to see everything CES has to offer, each person comes away with a sense of what’s hot, what’s not, what’s unique, and when to pass.

1. LG’s Smart TV. This wall-mounted, flat-screen, high-definition TV incorporates all the streaming entertainment and social networking features of your PC or laptop. The TV has a USB and RJ45 ethernet ports. You can download apps, send e-mails, stream a Netflix-provided movie, etc.

No keyboard is provided, but you could use a wireless keyboard or use an app that makes your iPhone keyboard work on the TV. There were several CES exhibitors promoting these “Smart TVs,” and this term has become generic. Check out LG’s offerings here.

Meanwhile, what happened to 3D TV?  It was the star of CES 2011 and was promoted again this year, especially by Sony, but 3D has not taken off the tarmac.

2. Eye-Fi Memory Card with Wi-Fi. A nifty SD card that automatically uploads pictures you take on your camera to your computer or photo-sharing site. The card has Wi-Fi built in.  Its capacity ranges from 4GB to 8GB. You can buy Eye-Fi at Best Buy and other electronics stores. Check out the Eye-Fi here.

3. Samsung’s Galaxy Smart Phone. This mobile phone has more than 10 million purchasers since its introduction seven months ago. It uses Google’s Android mobile operating system, and the selling carriers include AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. The Galaxy looks good and feels compact and natural in your hand.  It comes in different models. Whether it will stand up to the newest competition – the Verizon iPhone – remains to be seen.

4.  Mophie Marketplace Magnetic Strip Reader. This is a lightweight, tight-fitting case that fits over the iPhone and allows the phone owner to swipe a credit or debit card as part of a money-payment transaction.  It works with the GoPayment app and syncs with QuickBooks. It allows payment by customers and clients on your mobile phone wherever you meet.

Check out Mophie products here. Even though Apple was not an exhibitor, Mophie and hundreds of other vendors of iPhone and iPad accessories promoted their Apple-connected products in the “iLounge Pavilion” at the show.

5. Ford Focus All-Electric, Plug-In Vehicle. The Ford Focus is the all-electric, plug-in rechargeable vehicle that will be in production in the fourth quarter of 2011. The engine was on display at the CES 2011, as was the Leviton battery recharging station for your home that looks very familiar to anyone who has ever used a gas pump.

The Focus will be available with the latest built-in communication and navigation features. Ford was the only U.S.-based auto manufacturer at CES 2011, and the Ford exhibit had more buzz than any other exhibit this writer saw.

6. TV Hat Personal Theater. This zany-looking hat allows you to have a personal theater right in front of your eyes. It is certainly an anti-social product, but if you want to watch a movie in bed while your partner is reading a book, this is the perfect gadget for you. It is strictly a hat; there’s no electronics to it.

7. BabyPlus Prenatal Education System. Prenatal auditory stimulation has been around for years, and sounds occur naturally in the pregnant mom’s everyday environment. BabyPlus has been displayed and promoted at CES two years in a row in the “Mommy Tech” section of the show. BabyPlus is a soft waist band around the pregnant mom that contains an audio player delivering sixteen naturally derived sounds resembling a mother’s heartbeat. Advocates say it is an educational tool that provides intellectual and creative advantages to children from the time they are born.

8. Drive Safe Software for Cell Phones. This product is software that can be downloaded to a mobile phone to restrict its use. It is marketed as a product for parents who want to put some restraints on their teen drivers beyond caution and good advice, but it has commercial uses as well.

The parent can be the sole password-enabled administrator of the software. Time of operation of the phone can be set to eliminate school hours, to disable the texting and e-mail functions while driving, and other similar restraints. The software can generate telephone reports to the administrator upon the occurrence of certain events, like driving at a speed above the limit authorized by the software.

9. Samsung’s Sliding PC 7 Tablet. Tablets of all sizes had the widest promotion at CES 2011, an excess of enthusiasm if the tablet ends up as merely another choice between the laptop and the smart phone.  Several  of the tablets, however, stand out because of a sliding and pivoting side that allows the tablet to become laptop-like.

The Samsung Sliding PC 7 Tablet has the QWERTY keyboard and uses the Windows 7 operating system, one of the few victories for Microsoft at CES 2011. The size is rectangular (wider than taller from the user’s perspective), and overall it is slightly smaller than the iPad. Looks like a winner, but you still have to decide how to carry and protect it.

10. Zeus Gaming Rocker. This is the perfect gift for the late-teen, twenty-something video gamer who has everything but a job. This modern rocking chair has no arms, but it does have audio side speakers at the top and a subwoofer built into the rear cushions to promote maximum enjoyment, especially if the video contest is a solo endeavor. You really should try to keep your gamer happy! Contact Comfort Research here.

11. Free One Hand iPad Holder. The iPad’s influence was everywhere at CES 2011, and a lot of the attention was about how to hold it and carry it. This product in the iLounge Pavilion was the only one this writer saw that allows the iPad to be held with one hand, thus the name ”Free One Hand.” It is a one-handed grip holder with an ergonomic design. It also serves as a stand or easel.

12. Zeo Personal Sleep Coach. This is not a personal service, although the product name implies otherwise.  The Zeo is a sleep device that helps you analyze your sleep so you can improve it.  You wear a band around your head that tracks your sleep patterns and sends them wirelessly to a bedside display and to the myZeo website. A bar graph of your wake, REM, light, and deep sleep times is available on the display online.

Promoters say that sufficient hours of good sleep each night can result in weight loss and reduce the risk of heart disease.  Sadly, Zeo will not track snoring or nudge your partner when snoring becomes annoying.