Welcome to the year’s first edition of Gadget Dreams and Nightmares, the column that offers infallible opinions on the latest gadget announcements.
The mammoth CES trade show took place this week, and though it offered far too many new items to conceivably cram into a single column, we’ll look at some of the most notable and notorious. On our show floor this time are Sony’s latest Walkman, a smart grill, a speaker-beer cooler hybrid, a fitness-tracking belt, and much more.
As ever, the ratings reflect only how interested I am in using each — these are not reviews.
Sony Walks Back the Clock
Sony just won’t let the Walkman glide off gracefully into the sunset. The latest incarnation, the ZX2 (pictured above), is a high-end music player that’s said to offer crystal-clear audio. That’s great!
I don’t really need the highest-quality audio to enjoy some sludgy metal or a folk singer bootleg recorded on an aging dictaphone, though.
I’m all for consumers enjoying music and movies as artists intended them to be experienced, but I can’t justify shelling out US$1,120 for a fancy music player when my phone does the trick just fine.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Portable Cassette Players
Honeywell’s latest attempt at connecting the home is its Lyric security package.
If I were to start adding connected gizmos throughout my home, I like the idea of hooking them up to a single platform. I’d love to, say, have the temperature automatically start to rise as I get home on a cold day.
What I admire most about the latest advance to the Lyric system is its voice-activation ability. I look forward to the day when my agitating smoke alarm, all too eager to blare its warning when my oven is working overtime on a delicious dinner, gets the boot in favor of one that pipes down as soon as I start yelling obscenities at it. Bliss.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Motion Detectors
I’m not quite yet a superchef, and I’m happy to have a little guidance beyond what a recipe in print says. So, you’d best believe I’m excited for the Lynx Smart Grill.
Naturally, because it’s 2015, the grill has an app to control and monitor what you’re cooking. It’s sure to make barbeques a less risky venture, what with the guidance on proper temperatures and alerts when the food should be done.
I’d much rather have a version of this for a stove, with myriad configurations for all manner of recipes. Either way, I’m holding out for the eventual sous vide attachment before I take the plunge.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Charred Chicken Breasts
I can’t wrap my head around the necessity for a Bluetooth speaker/beer cooler hybrid. Sure, Thomas & Darden’s Kube has a 20-hour battery that should suffice for a day or two at the beach, but for everyone else hanging out in the backyard this summer, just grab a regular cooler and speaker.
Sure, you might not look as 21st century as your neighbor who has $1,099 to drop on one of these, but at least you won’t have to worry about a cool one slipping out of your hand and denting that flashy new gadget.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Laidback Afternoons
Say Cheese, Self!
I took a selfie on vacation recently. It was a bad photo and that was the end of my selfie career for the foreseeable future.
I’m a bit of a grouch when it comes to selfies. The web of gurning masses contorting their faces into their best possible position for a perfect self portrait is surely at its tipping point, and Lenovo’s about to make the scourge worse with its Selfie Flash for the Vibe.
The attachment plugs into the smartphone headphone jack so selfie fans can take clearer photos of themselves in low light. Perish the day when I see someone combine one with a selfie stick; I might just have to commit myself(ie).
Rating: 0 out of 5 Bad Photos
More Than Just Headphones
Though Avegant’s Glyph can be used as regular headphones, that wouldn’t make full use of it. For, you see, this headset also has a display system that projects images straight into your eyes.
At a reasonable $499 (for pre-orders), this seems like that kind of thing I’d mock people for wearing on the streets — but within the confines of one’s own home, where the television might be overrun by others in the household? I’m all for it.
Anything that can immerse me even deeper into the world of Westeros can’t possibly get a thumbs down.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Burned Retinas
It takes a lot at this point for a fitness tracker to grab my interest, but Emiota’s Belty has done just that.
Instead of a smartwatch, this tracker comes in the form of — you guessed it — a belt. Because it’s wrapped around one’s waist, it measures changes in waistband measurements. That’s inherently useful but even better is the motorized belt buckle, which expands as you stuff yourself. I’m sure it will come in especially handy for mammoth feasts during next holiday season.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Too-Large Dinners