Gadgets

The latest products unveiled at this month's Consumer Electronics Show.

Optimus Maximus keyboard

Good design has the potential to completely reinvent a device. Certainly, Russian designer Art Lebedev has managed this with its grandly-titled computer keyboard. Each key has an embedded organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display which can be changed to any type of symbol. An application such as an arcade game could automatically customise the keyboard. For example, a flight simulator could turn the keyboard into a cockpit dashboard. The price, however, matches its grand name and very few home users will be able to afford its $500 price tag. But it's an interesting use of OLED micro-displays that could compete with emerging touch panel technologies.

www.artlebedev.com

Belkin laptop hideaway

Not everything at CES requires a plug. Computer accessories company Belkin has realised that, not only are consumers generally buying laptops to replace their desktops, they are rarely using them outside the home. They are going to be perched on the user's knee while they chill out in their living room or on the edge of their bed. Therefore, their designers have come up with a suitable storage hideaway that can safely contain a user's laptop and cables. The ones on display were only brown, but we are assured that other colours are available.

www.belkin.com

Rangemax dual-band wireless-N router

Wireless network equipment manufacturer Netgear unveiled a series of products that it says will boost the quality of audio and video around the home. Chief among them is the WNDR3300 which, according to the company, will deliver faster wireless networking speeds over longer ranges given its use of
the new draft 2.0 version of the 802.11n wireless protocol. The device offers simultaneous support for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. It also sports Netgear's domed smaller-than-ever antennas. The dome is a button that can turn off the flashing lights of the router so that it remains discreet.

www.netgear.com

Slingcatcher

Coming soon from the company that brought us the Slingbox is the aptly named Slingcatcher. Fans of the Slingbox will know that it creates a connection between your Internet router and television tuner to allow you to watch and control your TV set from any computer in the home or outside via the Internet. As many would prefer to watch TV on a proper set, the Slingcatcher has been designed as a companion device that is connected to a secondary TV in the home and can allow you to do everything that the Slingplayer software on a PC can do. It comes with a remote and is a cost effective way of sending premium content such as sports or movies around the home.

Sony XE-1 OLED Display

Sony's organic light-emitting diode technology is now available outside Japan for the very first time. On the eve of the show, the company announced that it would be available in the US - albeit for the sum of $2,500. Proponents say the technology could potentially replace LCD and plasma TVs. OLED promises a brighter screen, lower power consumption and will eventually be cheap to manufacture - with the cost savings being passed on to the consumer. The screen is 11in and is as thick as three credit cards. You have to see it to believe how good the picture quality is.

www.sony.com/ces2008

EX-F1

This is 'the' device of the show and, surprisingly, it's not a flat screen. When Casio demonstrated the EX-F1 professional camera, this reviewer went 'whoo-hoo' like all the other Americans. It has a 60 frames per second burst mode and a clever function which will allow you to roll back a shot from when you originally pressed the shutter button. Also, it shoots video at a whopping 1,200 frames per second - and the results demonstrated by Casio were amazing. In the US it is expected to sell for $1,000 and will be available in the spring.

www.casio.com
More gadgets and other news from the show is available on Kris Sangani's CES Blog - www.theiet.org/ces2008

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