CES 2006: the first gadgets land

Weird shades from Moto, high def cams and more

Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies.

CES 2006 Oddities

The New Year’s hangover has been and gone and Christmas is but a fading memory which means it is must be time for the traditional first week of January jaunt to Las Vegas for the CES show. The world’s largest gadget-fest, CES is the place where as many 150,000 industry bods crane their necks to take a look at the hottest new goodies from the biggest names in electronics. Here's what's caught our eye so far.

Motorola/Oakley O ROKR

Motorola O ROKRRemember the Motorola Oakley Razrwire Bluetooth sunglasses? Well the two companies have teamed up again to offer an enhanced version of the Razrwire called the O ROKR. The basics are the same in that the system features a Bluetooth adaptor that clips on to the Oakley shades that then connects wirelessly via Bluetooth to a mobile phone.

The key difference with the O ROKR is that as well as enabling the user to make voice calls they can also listen to music from their mobile in stereo. The only downers are that the phone must support the A2DP version of Bluetooth - which kind of limits it as there are only handful of these mobiles available. Also battery life isn't great at just six hours. The design of the shades is also different from the Razrwire too. The O ROKR is expected in the first half of 2006 and will retail for around £200.

Moto has also announced a second ROKR music phone, although this time round there's no iTunes compatibility.

Celestron's Sky Scout

The trouble with star spotting is that, well they all pretty much look the same, so while you think that you are staring at Mars for all you know you might as well be gazing at Uranus. Enter US company Celestron which has just unveiled a very neat little gadget called the Sky Scout. Kind of like a pocket Patrick Moore the Sky Scout enables the user to name the stars and planets they are looking at.

The camcorder sized device uses GPS to pinpoint where the user is and where they are looking at and then accesses the information on the star/planet via its database which has details on 6000 celestial objects. If the user wants to find a particular star then it uses a series of lights to guide them to the right place in the sky. The device works well on its own but serious sky spotting anoraks can team it up with a telescope.

It is going to be available in the US in March for $400. The company hopes to offer it in Europe - possibly via Amazon - later in the year.

Kodak's twin lens camera

Kodak traditionally makes a big noise at CES (last year it unveiled the world’s first Wi-Fi snapper) and this year is no different. It has announced a worldwide launch for its innovative V570 digital zoom camera. The big selling point for this five mega pixel camera is that it is the first to feature a dual lens system. Users get to choose between an ultra-wide angle lens (23 mm) and an optical zoom lens (39 – 117 mm) depending on what type of pictures they are taking. The cool bit is that the camera apparently seamlessly flits between the two lenses. The camera also sports a 2.5inch LD monitor and 22 pre-programmed scene modes. It goes on sale in the UK later this month for £300.

Sanyo's high def SD-based camcorder

One of the big stories at CES this year is likely to be the explosion in the number of video cameras that can capture footage in high def. Samsung is certain to have a model and JVC has already promised a HD version of its hard disk based Everio. Whether it surfaces this week is another matter though.

Anyhow full marks to Sanyo for getting in first with a camcorder that records HD footage to a memory card (SD). Due in the US in March, with a UK launch expected in the summer, the VPC-HD1 isn't much larger than Sanyo’s standard defintion Xacti cams, yet it shoots footage at 720p at 30 frames per second using MPEG4 compression. It can also take five mega pixel still images and sports a 10x optical zoom lens. There’s no indication yet as to how much HD footage can be archived on the card. More here.

Lexar's flash drive with capacity level

USB flash drives aren't something to get excited about usually, but Lexar's new range of JumpDrives with integrated capacity maker have created a stir at the CES.

The JumpDrive Mercury, which will be available as a 1GB or 2GB model, utilises “Electronic Paper Display” technology, which displays how much storage space is left on the drive without the need to plug it into a PC. The display is paper thin and supposedly shatter proof.

Also available is the JumpDrive Fly, a very small sized USB flash drive with storage capacities of 256MB, 512MB and 1GB capacity.

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