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The Best, Worst, And Weirdest Things We Saw at CES 2014

You say you weren’t one of the lucky 150,000 gearheads wandering the streets of Las Vegas for this week’s Consumer Electronics Show? Here are some of the things you missed.

Glasshole sitings: We counted 21 people wearing a $1500 pair of Google-powered spectacles. Next time, before going out in public wearing one of those things, try saying “OK Glass, Google ‘self respect.’”

Number of men wearing porkpie hats at a jaunty angle so they could pretend they were members of the rat pack: Five, or roughly five too many. 

Grooviest new gadget: The Dualo, an electronic musical instrument that you wear around your neck and whose music can be controlled both by tapping on the little circles or leaning and back and forth, via motion sensor. 

Most egregious abuse of a Thomas Edison invention:

Yes, I know that there is such thing as electricity, and I know you can wield it to make your sign bright and flashy. But, for the love of god: reel it in. Chances are the majority of journalists who walk by your giant, disco ball of a booth have been staring at screens for the past three days. If anything, your horrible light show will make us move faster away from your booth. Also, it’s not even Thanksgiving. 

Most confusing outfit in Las Vegas:

The Best, Worst, And Weirdest Things We Saw at CES 2014

Why is this poor man covered in tablets and being paraded around the floor like a show pony? What are they even trying to sell me?

Most desperate scrawl:

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Desperation comes in many forms at CES, in a PR person’s intense, emotionless gaze,endless shouting about free tote bags, and sometimes signs that say “Distributor Wanted!” Nothing says “My product is horrible” more than a sign that admits no one wants to sell it. 

The worst thing to do to your smartphone:

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A team of engineers likely spent a lot of time and money on the design of my smartphone. The last thing I want to do is cover it in a case that looks like it’s been vomited on by Paris Hilton.

Most enigmatic marketing slogan: Changhong, a Chinese contract manufacturer that recently started selling its own branded HDTVs, had the phrase “LOHAS, my dream” plastered all over its booth. WTF? Turns out that’s an acronym for “Lifestyle Of Health And Sustainability.” We liked it better when it was a mystery.

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Dumbest question in response to an enigmatic marketing slogan: The Changhong booth featured a mini-pagoda, signs written in Mandarin, HDTVs showing Chinese cooking videos, and a 12-foot-wide scale replica of the eco-friendly “smart city” in China where its headquarters are located. So, naturally, a show attendee approached one of the company’s representatives and asked, “Lohas, is that Spanish?”

Most distressing idea for soda addicts: This Aullor soda fountain, which is affixed to a tablet and displays how many calories you’re dispensing as you dispense them, and also tells you how long you would have to run to burn all of that soda off. Maybe I’ll stick with water?

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Greatest single technological innovation: The invisible mute button on the touchscreens found in the back of every Las Vegas cab,  all of which were showing the same three commercials for local attractions hosted by the buxom-yet-irritating Adrianna Costa. (Hint: It’s in the upper right corner. You’re welcome.)

Coolest booth on the show floor (literally): Liquipel, which makes water-proof coatings for mobile devices, featured an actual rain storm in its booth, dropping the ambient temperature in the overheated South Hall by a good five degrees. Show attendees were relieved; the electronics in the surrounding booths, not so much.

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Most embarrassing booth babe costume: The competition for this award was intense, but our vote goes to the two women who were forced to wear costumes made from shredded paper to advertise Hammerill’s wireless printing services. Good thing they weren’t next to the Liquipel booth or we might have had to call in the vice squad.  

Least persuasive product endorsement: WeatherSphere, an app that combines GPS navigation with live weather maps, featured the following endorsement on a placard in its booth at Eureka Park: “I would be dead if it wasn’t for this app” – iTunes user Gamer Tag weedy bird. Because if weedy bird likes it, you know it must be awesome.

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Cutest idea: Teddy The Guardian, above, allows doctors to measure the temperature, pulse, and blood oxygen levels of toddlers by asking them to squeeze the bear’s hand, which contains a sensor and Bluetooth to beam that information to a computer. No matter howling kids as you attempt to stick a thermometer in them. Aww!

Most useful free giveaway: PC Keeper, a computer repair and security company, was giving away multicolored condoms in its booth. Because some things — like STDs — really should stay in Vegas.

Number of attendees who traveled thousands of miles to attend CES but spent most of their time at the show staring down at their phones: Nearly all of them.