Last week, techies swarmed Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (better known as CES), the ultimate showcase for the industry's hottest new gadgets. This year was all about Ultra HD TVs, Windows 8 tablets, and gigantic smartphones. Here are the gadgets that will be tempting you to splurge in 2013.
Samsung 85-Inch Ultra HD TV (pictured above)
As the hype over 3D TVs dies down, early adopters are looking towards Ultra HD (or "4K TVs"), which can offer four times the resolution of regular HD TVs. This 85-inch monster is the biggest Ultra HD TV ever made, set in a tiltable metal frame for a sleek floating effect. Not big enough for you? Don't worry, Samsung is planning to release a 110-inch version later this year.
Huawei Ascend Mate Smartphone
Any bigger and it would be a tablet. At 6.1 inches, Huawei claims it's the biggest smartphone screen in the world. Running the latest version of Android on a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, the Ascend Mate features a huge battery (for its huge screen), which supposedly charges 30% faster than most phone batteries and can support 22 straight hours of talk time.
Fujifilm X100s Camera
Despite its gorgeous retro look and feel, this camera is hiding some next-generation features, including the world's fastest autofocus (only 0.08 seconds!), an EXR Processor II for shooting in low light with 30% less noise, and the ability to record HD video at a super-smooth 60 frames per second.
Sony Xperia Z Waterproof Phone
To prove how waterproof its slim, 7.9mm phone is, Sony was completely submerging it in water during CES demos. The Xperia Z also packs some serious hardware in the form of a 13-megapixel camera and a 5-inch, 1080p HD display.
ThinkPad Helix Laptop/Tablet
What exactly is Lenovo's new ThinkPad Helix? It's hard to say. It's a laptop that runs Windows 8 when plugged into its full-size keyboard with trackpad, a separate 11.6-inch tablet when removed, and something in between when flipped around for watching movies or giving presentations. Similar tablet/laptops have been released before, but this might be the most solid, versatile hybrid on the market.
One of many products at CES 2013 that started as a Kickstarter project, the Pebble Smartwatch connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth, letting you check your email, Facebook messages and control your music from your wrist. Pebble can also help with your workout, thanks to apps that track your progress during running and cycling trips.
The consensus at CES was that Oculus Rift is the real deal, a straight-out-of-science-fiction virtual-reality headset that lets you play video games in 360 degrees. As a Kickstarter project, its creators asked for $250,000; they ended up with $2.4 million. The fun will really start when more developers begin adapting their two-dimensional games for 360-degree play.
Philips Fidelio Soundbar HTL9100 Speakers
Philips tweaks its classic Soundbar by adding two detachable speakers, which can be placed anywhere in the room for wireless surround sound. Each satellite speaker can last through even the longest, extended-version DVD thanks to a rechargeable battery life of 10 hours. Music nerds will be happy to know that they can stream music off their phone or tablet via the Soundbar's Bluetooth connectivity.
Vizio Windows 8 Tablet
Vizio made its name with sleek, affordable HD TVs before moving onto PCs and now tablets. The specs on this as-of-yet unnamed Windows 8 tablet are impressive: 1080p HD resolution, 11.6-inch screen with a slim .4-inch body, and a powerful AMD Radeon HD 6250 graphics processing unit that should make it one of the best gaming tablets around. Knowing Vizio, expect it to be released at a very enticing price.
Panasonic RP-BTGS10 Bone Conduction Headphones
Runners may sprint to stores when they hear about these wireless headphones. The draw: They transmit sound directly through your cheekbones into your ear canal, leaving your eardrums free to listen for surrounding traffic. Plus, they come equipped with a bone-conduction microphone so you can talk while you run.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.
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