Published on January 25th, 2012 | by Greg0
CES Wrap-Up: 2012 Looks Warm, Crisp, And Snug
Each year, we had to sunny Las Vegas, Nevada in search of the latest and greatest. Some of the stuff we see will never be released- some of the cars are only concepts, some of the tablets will be shelved, and some of the companies will disappear before they can get their product to market. But along with the other 150,000 people who visited this year's show, we stroll the show floor and the associated parties and media events, enjoying the freebies and press kits and filling every inch of our carry-on with schwag and samples.
Last year, we ragged on the press conferences but had fun with celebrities. Indeed, 50 Cent was back this year, extending his consumer electronics cred, but facing an onslaught of others, including even Justin Bieber. And while we saw just as many smartphone cases this year, there wasn't a lot new in the category. And in terms of schwag, last year brought us some pretty nifty gizmos, including Star Wars headphones from Coloud (they've dropped the line), and a strong entry for the world's ugliest tie.
This year, we aimed higher, and have three companies to spotlight. While other journalists post their stories weeks ago, when CES coverage is timely, we decided to wait and actually really use this gear. With that in mind, real world testing in both Sin City and the City That Never Sleeps proved that these three items are well worth a look.
Agloves are the easiest sell here, at least for those who have smartphones and a need for gloves. You've probably seen some by now- mittens made from special materials that allow you to use a touchscreen without needing to expose your tender flesh to the perils of nature. We've tried others, including some where only certain fingers, or parts of the glove, actually work- but the nifty thing about these is that you can use your whole hand (if you so desire). Agloves just work, plain and simple. Plus, the folks behind the company are incredibly friendly. The mother/daughter team showed up at the FashionWare Fashion Show, which turned out to be perhaps the highlight evening of the entire week. Agloves are available online in three versions, running $18-$24 including bamboo and a snug, warmer sport model. What can we say: we're in love.
Next up, we've got two sets of headphones. They are actually very different products, aimed at totally separate segments, but both still rated highly among testers. First up, the Yurbuds Inspire Pro series were actually inspiring, at least partially because of the demonstrations. Featuring a lifetime warranty and a "dry mic", these are squarely aimed at active users. And they showed off the best feature, living up to the "by athletes for athletes" motto, by having some users spin, flip, and parkour around while still wearing these earphones. The unique twist lock system meant that we, too, were able to run and jump and skip and hop without losing our music or having our earbuds thrown about. Musically, these weren't particularly impressive, similar if a little more flat than the pre-packaged Apple standards- but the three-button system and built-in microphone work well, and the price shocked us. Solid, well-built, the Yurbuds Inspire Pro make for a classy gift and are easy on the wallet at $50.
Finally, the ClarityOne EB110 earbuds offer something completely different. Billed as offering a built-in "Puresound" processor, and using less energy, we confess to finding them intriguing if confusing. They look more or less normal, but the real trick is inside: six patents combine to make these sound fairly impressive. Three sizes of tips are included, and though we prefer Etymotic-style tips, these were good enough and pretty sound-isolating. The buds are also pretty light, and the cabling covered with an anti-friction coating. We found ourselves nodding our head in appreciation when we put these on- from classical to acoustic, they held up well to most anything, with only the bass being perhaps a little less "boosted" than some listeners were used to. The touch sensitive remote was mixed- some staff loved it, while others found it a bit hard to control. They also claim that the 8 ohm impedance level will conserve power- and we did notice a small increase in battery life, though not substantial. At $130, though, they definitely are an interesting contender in a crowded space.