I’m not your classic early adopter; I don’t love every new gizmo I see, just because it’s new. But there have been a few products introduced at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show so far that I instantly found myself itching to get my hands on. They aren’t the most expensive or the most state of the art. But I could use them right now.
Robot. I haven’t gotten over to the robot zone at CES yet, so perhaps this is not the only robot that will make sense to me, but it is the first one. The Mint from Evolution Robotics cleans floors, not rugs, using standard pads made by Swiffer. I have a white kitchen floor (this was not my idea), it’s a nightmare to keep clean. I already use Swiffer sometimes—manually—I’d love to hand my Swiffer pads over to a robot. And, tipping the scales, it’s smaller and cuter than a Roomba; it wouldn’t look awkward parked in the corner. The Mint will ship in the second half of the year, at under $250.
Flipkiller. Everyone has an answer to Flip HD, the popular point, shoot, and upload video camera. I saw a lot of them (including Sony’s Bloggie, the product I’m nominating for worst name); all were fine, but none had a
compelling reason to choose them instead of the established Flip. Then I saw Kodak’s Playsport Video Camera. It’s an HD video camera like the Flip—and it’s waterproof. There’s the compelling feature; I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stood in the surf taking videos of the kids, distracted by worrying that an unexpected wave might takeout the camera. (Given how many books I’ve lost to the surf, this is not an idle worry.) So splash proof would be enough, but the Playsport works underwater, and its shape and feel--solid, slightly curved, with a rubberized surface—made me not want to put it down. Kodak also says they’ve addressed the problem of screen visibility in bright sunlight by switching the viewfinder to a sepia mode (the recorded video stays full color); if it works, it’ll be great. The Playsport will retail at around $150, about the same price as a Flip, and will be available in time for my spring beach vacation.
Keyboard. A keyboard? I’m lusting after a keyboard? Yes, at least, I want to try it. The Ergomotion keyboard from Smartfish Technologies is
designed to reduce the risk of repetitive stress injuries by moving—it cycles through different positions, changing your hand angle as you type. I’m not sure if it’ll work or will simply be distracting, but if it does, it’s brilliant. It will retail for under $150.
Tekla S. Perry is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum. Based in Palo Alto, Calif., she's been covering the people, companies, and technology that make Silicon Valley a special place for more than 40 years. An IEEE member, she holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Michigan State University.