CES : Winners and losers

I'm tired, I'm bleary-eyed, and my feet hurt. Yep, I'm still recovering from the big Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Now that I've had some time to catch my breath, I'll give you the lowdown on the gadgets that left a lasting impression. I'll also talk about a couple things I can't imagine anyone using.

Newfangled CDs

Ricoh is pitching EncryptEase Complete, a CD with built-in software that automatically encrypts and password-protects the data you burn on it. It costs about US$7 for a pack of ten.

Imation was all excited about its AquaGuard CDs. Unlike standard printable media, AquaGuard won't smear when it gets wet.

CarChip: onboard monitor

For me, driving to CES is quicker than flying -- considering the crowds at the airport, security hassles, and cab lines. It takes a little less than four hours to Las Vegas from Pasadena, even if I stay within the speed limit.

On the trip home, I used the Davis CarChip to track my speed, plus other stuff that interested me. The gadget's about the size of a box of matches and it hooks up to my Subaru's ODB II connector. As I drive, it captures speed, hard acceleration and deceleration, distance traveled, and many other parameters -- all logged according to time and date.

I got a kick out of seeing all the data; you might want to keep tabs on how fast your employee or obnoxious teenager drives. And if there's an accident, the CarChip generates a log showing the last critical 20 seconds.

There are three models: CarChip logs up to 75 hours of trip details and runs about $US99; CarChipE/X logs up to 300 hours and costs $US179; the $US200 CarChipE/X with Alarm warns you if you exceed a pre-set speed limit.

Real-time weather info

If you're a weather nut, you might be willing to spend $US200 for Oregon Scientific's Complete Regional Weather Station with MSN Direct Weather Data Service. It's a snazzy-looking device that picks up weather data from MSN using FM signals. If severe weather is in the forecast, you get an alert. There's no Internet connection needed, nor do you need to have any weather-collection paraphernalia.

I'm just as intrigued by Oregon Scientific's $US270 Total Weather Monitoring Station, a wireless gadget that picks up everything about the weather that's occurring right outside.

Chatter Bug: Strange name, cool product

Chatter Bug looks like a small mouse. Plug it into a wall jack, and then plug your phone into the device. Once you register (online or by phone), you're ready to make calls.

The device routes your calls through the Chatter Bug network via the Internet. It's done invisibly, without any involvement on your part. You don't need to connect anything to your PC, buy a special phone, or have a broadband connection. And it works great: Although it took an extra couple of seconds to connect my calls, I didn't notice a difference in voice quality.

The device runs about $US20 and the monthly cost is $US10. That gets you unlimited long-distance calling to anywhere in the United States and Canada.

The weird world of CES

The waterproof iPod: When I sit in a hot tub, I want to soothe my sore muscles after a day sitting in front of the PC and fretting because I haven't had a raise in years. According to the PR people at H20audio, I'd have a much better soak if I took along my iPod. Just lay out about $US80, and you can listen to your tunes somewhere wet, say, while surfing or showering, or maybe even scuba diving.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Steve Bass

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?