25 Hot Products From RetailVision 2008
RetailVision 2008, running April 14- 17 at the sunny Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando, brought together the biggest and baddest retailers in the land, from J and R to Newegg with the flat out hottest technology providers. (Can any company truly claim to be a technology company if they don't play in retail?) This is what we live for: venturing into the consumer high technology jungle for the new, unexpected and simply amazing! If you really want to find the latest and greatest technology at the best prices this is where you go. So without further adieu here is our pick for the 26 hottest products at the show.
Free Worldwide Calls In A Snap
You read it right. Talk free worldwide at the press of a button. Not only that instant 4-way conferencing. It's all a snap with the new Snap Personal Internet Communicator. This product, which is from Toucan Global of San Francisco which uses the tagline "one world communicating freely," (as in FREE!), is a small business must. Forget about those pricey internet conferencing systems. For a small company this is the ticket. Snap will be available starting May 15 through retail. Until August 31, you can buy one ($99) and get one free (Remember you need at least two to get up and running). Anyway we love this product. Better than Rice Krispies. Snap. Crackle. Pop. And Snap is adding a show my screen button in the Fall.
Breathe Easy Okay, get ready to think out of the box. The SwooSwee (u swoop and u sweep) features breath interaction technology that allows you to navigate the Web on your portable Windows Mobile device by using your breath on a Bluetooth microphone rather than your fingers. The product, made by Zyxio, is expected to be released in the fourth quarter at anywhere from $69 to $99. In this slide, Zyxio Vice President of Business Development Celine Vignal gives the product a spin. It's a completely new paradigm that Zyxio calls an intuitive experience similar to a child blowing a summer dandelion ("Think of moving icons and scrolling web pages as you'd blow away dandelion seeds") So come on. How can you resist that pitch?
System Builder Nirvana We're all about building gamer systems that put the CPU into overdrive and never let up. That means you need best performance cooling. Of course that means you need one killer performance fan. We've seen a lot of fans over the years but nothing like APack's Zerotherm Nirvana NV120 Premium at a price of just $49.99. As APack Sales Manager and Super Geek Chris Chon notes this baby delivers the best cost to performance ratio of any fan on the market. "Gamers love it because they are overclocking the &*!@ out of their CPUs and they need a monster Nirvana to dissipate the heat." This is one cool product.
You Do VuDu Call it Netflix in a box. The Vudu box, which is about the size of a book, packs the ability to instantly access 5,200, 150 HD movies and countless TV shows in a slim $295 4.2 pound box. For home theatre junkies that want more bells and whistles and a bigger hard drive the company even has a $999 box that works with all the top home control systems. Look out Netflix. This vudu could really put the whammy on your business.
Ultra Ultra Mobile You've got to see it to believe it. The OQO ultra mobile system provides a full PC experience running either Windows Vista (Do You Believe IT?) or Windows XP in a slim 5.6 inch width x 3.3 inch height one pound package. The 5 inch WVGA LCD is let's just say beyond anything we've seen for a product like this. And the keyboard is usable. All of the models support Rev.0 and Rev.A Sprint and Verizon mobile broadband with an Ethernet adapter, a video out HDMI port, USB port and a docking power connector. The OQO is priced starting at $1,299. But we prefer the $2,349 version with a 32 Byte solid state drive (64 Gbyte also available). Great job OQO.
Gimme Some Mojo Tired of having to plug in your cellphone or mobile device at the end of a long hard day. Then check out the Mojo retail quad charger, expected to be available in the first half of 2009 at a mere $99. You place your cell phone and three other devices on a mat the size of mousepad and they recharge courtesy of a postage-size transmitter in the mobile device. Mojo Mobility, which bills itself as the leader in wireless mobile power, is working with a wide array of device makers to make it happen. It truly is magic when you see these devices recharge with no plug. Afshin Partovi, the CEO of Mojo Mobility, says mojo means magic. "That's why we chose the name," he says. "When people first see the product they say Wow! How do you do that?"
Social Streaming The new i2i Stream iPod and MP3 player allows you to instantly share tunes with friends at the click of a button. This is social networking for the High Fidelity set. Anyway, we love i2i's ad which shows a preppy gal listening to light pop turned off by streams from hard rockers and then turned on by one of those sensitive geeky guys that is playing the same song. The i2i stream features seven color coded channels. It's a $129 for a two pack to get you and a friend up and streaming.
Portable Speaker Power
If you don't dig the i2i stream then you've got to at least add i2i's folding speakers. For $39.95 these four watt 32 mm babies deliver a pretty powerful wall of sound. It's perfect for the road or even a picnic. Powered by four AAA batteries which are included the speakers last an average five hours. It also comes with a convenient carrying pouch.
Portable Media Player Muscle If you think portable media players are pass then you haven't checked out IOGear's Portable Media Player. The $349.95 IOGear player allows you to take all your digital content on the road (up to 50 hours high definition movies, 30,000 MP3s, 24,200 digital photos) in a nifty slim pouch and play it back on a standard display or TV or better yet on an HDTV at up to 720p HD resolution. It comes in a stylish green and has a credit card sized remote control device. This is what we call good gear.
MP3 On Steroids Think of the TuneBug as the Evel Knievel of MP3 players. This 40 0z player can be hooked to the back of a motorcycle or bicycle helmet and deliver clear crisp, bright sound without ear buds. Not a bad option for those cyclists that want to bring their tunes on the road but not put themselves in harm's way by using earbuds. The product is slated to be priced under $100 and go into production at the end of July. This takes MP3 to another level. And it's hard to bet against Dick Brown, the president of Silicon Valley Global, which is bringing the product to market. During those long ago dark days when PCs were learning to deliver great sound, Brown brought Creative Labs Soundblaster products to the market. Here we go again Dick.
A High Tech Sword In The Stone We love Excalibur Electronics, based in Miami, Florida. Not only do they have a great name and logo compliments of the King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They have some of the wildest and craziest products we've ever seen. One of our favorites is their hot selling USB-ready electronic travel mug. Heat up that java you need to meet that late night deadline, all without leaving your computer. It's only $19.95.
Flying High Ok, so we couldn't resist putting two of Excalibur's 550 products in our top 25 list. It's the inner child in us. What can you do when these guys roll out their wireless -- that's right wireless (it does require 6 AA batteries) -- Micro Chopper designed for indoor use and then proceed to give it a fly over the RetailVision show floor. Just amazing! This is all about fun. And for $29.99 this breaks the fun price performance sound barrier.
A Modern Solid Solution All right, we know LCD and laptop mounting solutions are not as flashy as a wireless helicopter. But let's call it like it is. They pack a lot bigger margins than a wireless helicopter. We loved Taiwanese display mounting solution maker ModernSolid Industrial's (mosolid.com.tw) LA-911 (mosolid.com.tw). It's gas spring integrated and features a quick release function (no small matter for laptop users). The maker is hesitant to give out pricing, but let's just say these products are a big margin maker on both the product and services side of the balance sheet.
KVM For The Home Given the computing demands of the office and the home, many professionals now have two computers. That's why the ATEN 2 port USB DVI KVM audio enabled cable is so hot. The $89.95 retail product is from Buy.com and Newegg.com. Now you can toggle between that business presentation with flashy graphics and audio and the MP3 loaded on to your home server in a nanosecond. By the way, gamers who want to play on more than one machine just love it. That's what we call true multitasking.
Find That Dog Or Teenager So you've got a dog that's gotten lost and caused you more than a small amount of heartache. Or even worse a teenager that tells you he's going to the local movie theatre and makes a beeline for the city. That's why Zoombak makes both the Advanced GPS Dog Locator and the Zoombak Advanced GPS Car and Family Locator. The tiny 2.5 oz devices, which fit easily around a dog's collar or installed in a car, allow you to see your dog's location on a map. As for the car and family locator version, you're alerted when your car leaves what you designate as the appropriate safety zone. This is what GPS technology was made for. The dog locator retails for $199. The car and family locator retails for $249.00. Both are available at Best Buy and Circuit City. And oh year for you cat lovers, Zoombak is hard at work on a cat locator. Meow.
Heavy Digital Nomad Heavy Digital's Nomad backpack is the ultimate high-tech boombox knapsack for the digital set. It's the ultimate iPod and iPhone accessory. The solid plastic pack features a 10.4 inch screen and built in speakers that allow you to play all your movies and MP3s on the road. Anytime. Anywhere. Anyplace. Not only that they are super cool and fashionable. Our favorite is the Spider Man case (licensing still needs to be worked out with Marvel). The Nomad is slated to be available in the fourth quarter with the entry-level model starting at under $1,000.
Green Plug, San Ramon, Calif., is on a mission to make life easier for all us techies with dozens of incompatible power and battery chargers for everything from laptops to cell phones. Can you imagine one universal power supply that can charge all your high tech toys. Well imagine no more. A Green Plug enabled hub as pictured here should be available early next year with three ports at about $90. Green Plug is OEMing the technology.
The Green Plug hub here is powering everything from a 3.6 volt Ash Drill, a Motorola Blue Tooth headset, a Westinghouse digital frame, a Dynex DVD player, a Panasonic cordless phone and an HP laptop. The intelligent Green Plug device intelligently powers each device from a 9-volt photo frame to 19-volt laptop. And when the battery is fully charged it stops delivering the charge. Green Plug estimates that 379 million power and battery chargers will be tossed into US landfills this year. Here's hoping the company's powerful green technology puts a dent in that high tech wasteland.
The Wow Factor We love mouses. Not the kind you find in an old barn. The kind you connect to your PC to drive your game playing experience to another planet. That's what the Wowpen Joy does. The $29.95 mouse looks and drives like a vintage mustang in our mind than a boring old mouse. The picture here can give you a feel for this ergonomic wonder, but you've got to put your hand on it and play your favorite game to truly experience it. So who makes the Wowpen Joy. Wow Technology. Check out www.wow-pen.com for the full product line.
That's My Bag! So you're not exactly bowled over by computer knapsacks. Well check out the Microsoft Everest for $69.99 available July 1st from the folks at Samsill. The neat thing about this pack, which features a number of secret compartments, is you can plop your knapsack down on the floor or table and it doesn't topple over.
So you're longing for the days of Thriller and the white gloved one. Then you've absolutely got to get Mobile Bling by M Mobile Glove. These are genuine crystals. So they're not cheap. But real style is always a little pricey. The stunning peelo and stick laptop version here is priced at $139.95.
Insurance For Your Mobile Device Global Lost and Found has come up with a neat way to try to put a dent in the millions of mobile devices that are lost each year but never returned. For $24.95 for a laptop and $9.95 for a cell phone($7.95 for an MP3 player or digital camera) the company sells you an E-Tracker ID that offer a reward for return listing a phone number and website.
Here GLF Executive VP James Harris (left) and CEO Geoffrey Nudd show off the asset tags. The rewards are not outlandish ($25 Best Buy or Circuit City gift certificate for a laptop and $10 for a digital camera, cell phone and MP3 player). But the service has an amazingly high rate of return. And the way GLF sees it they are rewarding people for doing the right thing. Right on.
A Better Bag Built in New York is a testament to American ingenuity. These guys started with a two-bottle wine tote made of neoprene. And they have taken it to a full line of products made with abrasion resistant neoprene used by coral reef divers. This material is tough yet light. The Built New York laptop bag modeled here is priced at $80 retail and is simply a dream. Available at Apple stores (they know a cool thing when they see it), Best Buy and Staples this is the bag for those that want a better laptop carrying experience.
A Plum Choice We love great products. But we also love great service. It's that best in class service that makes companies truly great. PlumChoice, which performs the FireDog service calls for Circuit City, is on top of it. PlumChoice Vice President Fred King shown here is super proud of the company's services prowess. Plum Choice, which did some 500,000 plus services calls last year, uses 100 percent US based techs so you don't have to worry about trying to cut through a foreign accent to get help. Services can be purchased a la cart ($39.95 for an MP3 setup) or via a monthly subscription ($24.95 for a PCSmart Plan subscription for unlimited support). All in all a real plum choice.
A Solar Powered Experience Iqua, of Finland has come up with what we think is the absolute coolest BlueTooth headset. They bill it as the world's first solar powered BlueTooth headset and their trademark tagline is "Connect To The Sun." Here Iqua Marketing Specialist Katri Chacona shows off the solar powered BlueTooth product. Going green is hot. And this is about as green as you can get. It's only $99 and we can't wait to cruise the California coast with it.
A Woot! Of A Time What a better way to end this slide show than a product from Woot! These guys do wholesale product closeouts of all those tech products that don't make it. We hope none on our list of hot RetailVision products ends up here. But if you're looking for a great buy these guys got it. How about a Black and Decker portable power source for under $10 (that's not a misprint) that has a USB Port and a built in AC Plug to provide you with mobile power on the go. Also hats off to Woot! For providing all the RetailVision attendees with a 10-inch WiFi Momento digital picture frame (a $150 value). Here, Matt Rutledge CEO of Woot, shows off the Momento frame with a Woot Monkey.Woot! Woot! Woot!