The Best Products of CES 2012

PCMag Staff | Published 15 Jan 2012
The Best Products of CES 2012
Anyone who says the Consumer Electronics Show is waning hasn't been packed like a sardine waiting for the Central Hall doors to open at Las Vegas Convention Center on the first day of CES. Despite the absence of electronics market leaders like Apple, and the imminent exit of PC heavy hitter Microsoft, CES is still going incredibly strong with more than 2,700 exhibitors in over 1.8 million square feet of space.
From giant multi-level booths with built-in coffee bars in the LVCC to stand-alone tables in hotel suites up the strip, there are a lot of products on display here at CES. More than we care to count, and many of which we'll have trouble remembering in June. What really matters are the ones we know will help set the tone for the industry in the coming 12 months. If you want to read all that we've written about the show this week, check out our CES page, or allow us to cut through all the noise and break it down for you right here with the best products we've seen at CES. 

Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700
Winner: Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700
The best tablet at CES is one I've never actually touched. But Asus's Eee Pad Transformer Prime is currently the best Android tablet available, with its quad-core processor, laptop attachment, and now Android 4.0. Plenty of other Android 4.0 tablets are cropping up here at CES, but so far none of them are quite as elegant and well-built as the Transformer Prime. So the new Transformer Prime just announced—which is essentially the existing model, but with a stunningly high-res 1080p screen—is going to remain the benchmark by which other Android tablets are measured. –Sascha Segan

Hands-On With The Nokia Lumia 900 for AT&T
Winner: AT&T Nokia Lumia 900
Now this is what we were waiting for. Nokia finally shows off its first high-end Windows Phone 7 device, as the preceding Nokia Lumia 710 was too budget-oriented to inspire much buzz. The LTE-equipped Lumia 900 packs an 8-megapixel camera, Carl Zeiss optics, and a 4.3-inch AMOLED Clear Black display. As part of Microsoft's last CES keynote, the powerful Lumia 900 may be a fitting sendoff and just what the Windows Phone platform needs. –Jamie Lendino
Runner Up: LG Spectrum

Lenovo IdeaPad YOGA
Winner: IdeaPad Yoga
Home to half a dozen Cirque du Soleil shows, Vegas is no stranger to acrobatic contortions, but CES has never seen anything quite like Lenovo's 3.1-pound, touch-screen ultrabook that flips and folds into a tablet and easel. –Eric Grevstad
Runner Up: Samsung Series 9

Samsung Series 7 Gamer
Winner: Samsung Series 7 Gamer
Samsung's first dedicated gaming laptop, the Series 7 Gamer packs an Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor and an Nvidia GTX 675 graphics chip. The standout feature: You can alternate between four different performance modes via a physical switch, so your PC performs to fit your needs whether you're studying at the library or about to hop on for a round of Team Deathmatch in Call of Duty. –Natalie Shoemaker

Lenovo IdeaCentre A720

Winner: Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 
The Lenovo IdeaCentre A720 is a clear indication of where the all-in-one desktop PC is going: ten-finger multi-touch screen, large 27-inch display, and that articulated hinge that lets the screen lie flat or tilt through a wide range of angles. There are times when you'll want to sit down to actually do work rather than just surfing the Internet. You can look up quick info and news on a tablet or smartphone, but sometimes you need a real physical keyboard, mouse, and some undivided attention to write a manuscript, edit some blueprints, or retouch a photo. That's when you should put down the tablet and use a desktop the get real work done. The IdeaCentre A720 has innovative design, well-thought out ergonomics, and a full feature list to help you finish the job at hand. –Joel Santo Domingo
Runner Up: HPE h9 Phoenix

Tie: Yet-To-Be-Named 55-inch Samsung and LG OLED HDTVs and Sony's Crystal LED 
These winners are less actual televisions you can buy today, and more signs that we're going to see some changes in HDTVs in the near future. For a few years, OLED displays have promised as the next big step in flat-panel displays. But we haven't seen much progress in organic LEDs outside of small devices like smartphones. Now, Samsung and LG have both unveiled OLED HDTVs with big 55-inch, 3D displays. And Sony's new 55inch Crystal LED panel doesn't use OLED but works in a similar way, with similarly impressive results.

These aren't game-changing technologies, but like LED-backlit LCDs, they could become the next step in making our HDTVs smaller, lighter, brighter, darker, more colorful, and more environmentally friendly. –Will Greenwald

Vizio Gets in the Google TV Game
Winner: Google TV
The winner for best home theater gear at CES this year isn't a Blu-ray player or a set-top box. It's a little piece of software you might have heard of called Google TV, but you might have also assumed it was dead. It's seeing a huge launch here at CES. In fact, it's the launch Google TV should have seen here last year.
Instead of a tepid three products from two companies, four manufacturers have come out with entire lines of Google TV products here at the show. Vizio and LG's high-end smart TVs will use Google TV, along with Vizio and Sony's new set-top boxes and Blu-ray players. Samsung will get into Google TV, though it hasn't announced specific products yet.
The smart TV landscape has been fractured, with every major company using its own app ecosystem. With actual support from multiple HDTV manufacturers, Google TV could become the unifying system for connected HDTVs. –WG
Runner Up: Klipsch Console
Read more of the Best Products of CES, from Digital Cameras to Gaming Gear, on the next page 
Meet Fiona, Razer
Winner: Razer Project Fiona
Razer's new gaming tablet is nothing like anything you've seen before. Instead of Android or another tablet OS, Project Fiona run Windows 7, with a Razer shell that incorporates a game library and a touch interface. On either side of the tablet sit hardware controls modeled after the Razer Hydra motion control system. It won't be cheap—Razer is thinking $1,000 if and when it hits the market—but it could easily be the first real example of hardcore gaming in a tablet form factor. –WG

Fujifilm X-Pro1
Winner: Fujifilm X-Pro1
Even though the Nikon D4 is the most technically impressive—and most expensive—camera to debut here at CES, it's not the best. For my money, that is the Fujifilm X-Pro1, a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that, from the front, looks like a 1970s-era rangefinder. The 16-megapixel shooter uses a new sensor design that eliminates the low-pass filter, promising to deliver more natural images that don't skimp on sharpness—and don't exhibit moiré patterns.
The X-Pro1 takes it cues from other mirrorless designs, including the retro-styled Olympus PEN series that ushered in this new digital camera class. But it manages to squeeze an APS-C sensor into its body, which is larger than that of a Micro Four Thirds camera. It also has a unique optical/electronic hybrid viewfinder, similar to that found on the fixed-lens Fujifilm X100. –Jim Fisher

Runner Up:
 Nikon D4

MakerBot Replicator
Winner: MakerBot Replicator
MakerBot Industries has been the most visible face of the personal 3D printing movement; its Thing-O-Matic printer has introduced both geeks and the public (through appearances on shows like The Colbert Report) to the technology of printing physical objects. The MakerBot Replicator can print larger objects than the Thing-O-Matic, up to the size of a loaf of bread. The two-nozzled (dual extruder) version of the Replicator is capable of printing objects in two colors using ABS and/or PLA plastics.
Priced at $1,749 for the single-extruder model and $1,999 for the dual-extruder version, the MakerBot Replicator comes fully assembled and ready within minutes to start printing. At that price it will appeal more to hobbyists than typical households, but its ability to print larger objects, and in different color combinations, has the potential to entice a new wave of experimenters into trying their hands at personalized manufacturing. –Tony Hoffman

FAVI A3-WiFi Pico Projector
Winner: FAVI A3-WiFi Pico Projector
Projector makers have been expanding the capabilities of pocket-sized projectors, but the FAVI A3-WiFi goes further. Not only does this pico projector integrate Wi-Fi, it runs Android, uses Google Chrome as a browser, and has a built-in touchpad.
The FAVI A3 WiFi has a native SVGA resolution (800-by-600 pixels), 8GB of built-in memory, and a SD/SDHC/MMC card reader. Its lithium ion battery lasts for up to one hour between charges, and it has a built-in speaker, plus a USB port lets you connect the A3-WiFi to USB keyboards and mice. The projector can act as a personal media player, and be used for watching online videos or picture slide shows, playing music, displaying eBooks, Web browsing, and playing content from the internal memory or online.
We've seen cameras, smartphones, and other devices that incorporate projectors. The FAVI A3-WiFi starts with the projector and integrates other functions. It may not have the convenience of a laptop, but, at up to 100 inches, the image it displays is a lot larger. –TH

Netgear Media Storage Router
Winner: Netgear Media Storage Router with Integrated 2TB Hard Drive (WNDR4700)
Netgear's Media Storage Router with Integrated 2TB Hard Drive is getting a lot of play at CES because when it comes to market, it will be only one of two dual-band wireless routers available that are also full SATA disk drive NAS solutions. The other? Apple's Time Capsule.
Many higher-end routers offer some NAS functionality by including a USB port on the router's chassis for connecting external USB storage devices. However, using USB drives connected to routers for shared network storage is slow in both read and writes, and storage capacity is limited. With more home users wanting to share digital data throughout their home networks, NAS devices are hot items. Not everyone, however, wants to setup and manage an individual NAS box. For these consumers, all-in-one devices like the Time Capsule prove attractive. Now with Netgear throwing its considerable networking weight in the ring with Apple, the competition between these two devices for market share is bound to be fierce. –Samara Lynn

Viewsonic EXOdesk
Winner: ViewSonic EXOdesk
This HTML5 interface, which runs on top of Windows, Mac OS, or Android, turns a 32- to 40-inch touch screen into your desktop surface, supplementing both your keyboard and mouse and your main monitor with a customizable playing field for toys (solitaire games, mouse pads), productivity gadgets (calendars, app launchers)— you name it. It's Minority Report meets Fisher-Price. –EG
CES 2012 Best Products of CES 2012 Best of CES Best of CES 2012 IdeaPad Yoga Samsung Series 9 HDTV LG Google TV Google TV IdeaCentre A720

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