25 Must-See Products At CES 2012

Consumerization In Full Effect

As the explosion of mobile devices and the consumerization of IT continue to reshape the technology landscape, there's no better place to see the newest gadgets and innovations than the Consumer Electronics Show. From Ultrabooks and new mobile devices to TV phones and cloud services, here's a look at 25 must-see products at this CES 2012.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Hybrid

Lenovo has made a practice in recent years of making a splash at CES, and this year looks like it will be no different. The computer maker has revamped its popular ThinkPad X1 notebook with a few new tricks. Lenovo's ultra-thin enterprise notebook now comes with "Instant Media Mode" that allows users to switch from their Windows desktop to a second open-source operating system (powered by a second CPU from Qualcomm) for video playback and streaming media. Instant Media Mode reduces the notebook's power consumption and extends the battery life. Lenovo says the X1 Hybrid will launch in the second quarter for approximately $1,599.

Nokia Windows 8 Tablet

Nokia has thrown its support behind Microsoft and Windows Phone 7, so it's no surprise that Nokia executives have teased a Windows 8-powered tablet for 2012. Details for the device are scarce, other than the OS of course. But the device could be a make or break deal for Nokia, which is struggling to stay relevant in the mobile device market against Apple's iPhone and a host of Android-powered devices. If Nokia can break out at CES with one of the first Windows 8 tablets, that could help the company's comeback.

Intel Ivy Bridge

Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge processors, scheduled to hit the market during the first half of 2012, are said by the chipmaker to be the world’s first 3D tri-gate transistors built using a 22-nanometer process. Intel’s new chip series will reportedly deliver up to 15 to 20 percent higher performance than its Sandy Bridge chips, along with 100 MHz to 300 MHz higher turbo boost frequencies. In addition to speed, Ivy Bridge CPUs offer 20 percent lower TDP (Thermal Design Power) to ensure efficiency.

Perhaps the biggest surprise seen with the new chipset, however, is its price point: while Intel hasn’t released official details just yet, many reports are suggesting that Ivy Bridge prices will increase only slightly (if at all) from those of the Sandy Bridge series.

ViewSonic ViewPad 10pro

ViewSonic hasn't made the biggest splash in the tablet market, but the display maker crafted some compelling devices like the ViewPad 10, which allows users to boot either Windows or Android operating systems. ViewSonic says it will have new, second-generation ViewPads for both the business and consumer markets; the ViewPad 10pro for business users will once again carry dual OSes and some new features, too. The ViewPad 10pro is available now for $699.99 for the Windows 7-only version and the $749.99 for the dual-OS Windows 7/Android version.

Dell Ultrabook

It's no surprise that Dell is entering the Ultrabook market; Intel CEO Paul Otellini spoke at Dell World in October and pumped up his company's thin-yet-powerful notebook concept. But what will Dell's Ultrabook look like? You know, besides thin and lightweight? Will it come with Intel's new Ivy Bridge chips? HDMI? USB 3.0? Time will hopefully tell.

ExoPC EXOdesk

ExpoPC, a Canadian software company specializing in touch screen interfaces, has teamed up with ViewSonic to produce the first EXOdesk -- a 32-inch, 10-point touch table top that can acts like a giant tablet. The EXOdesk features a custom user interface from ExoPC that's open to HTML5 developers, and the table itself is powered by an Intel Core i7 processor and runs Windows 7. The EXODesk is priced at $1,299. To see the EXODesk in action, check out this video.

Microsoft Windows 8

Microsoft's newest operating system is getting a beta release in February, but the software giant is expected to show off Windows 8 in Las Vegas as well. The tablet-friendly OS has a brand new home screen designed for touchscreen input and will come with a Windows Store for applications. The Windows 8 developer preview was released earlier this year to mixed reviews, so this year's beta build will hopefully give us a better idea of what's really coming with "Ocho." (for more, check out CRN TV's look at the Windows 8 developer preview)

Can Microsoft replicate the success of Windows 7 so soon after that operating system's release? And will Windows 8 get Microsoft into the tablet market before it's too late? There's a lot riding on this one.

Lenovo ThinkPad T420u Ultrabook

Everyone else is getting into the Ultrabook game, so it makes sense for Lenovo, the enterprise notebook leader, to throw its hat in the ring, too. The ThinkPad T430u Ultrabook is thin (less than 0.8 inches) and light at under 4 pounds but the laptop sports a sturdy case with an aluminum top cover. The T430u comes with the latest Sandy Bridge Intel Core processors, integrated graphics from either Intel or Nvidia, up to 1 TB of HDD storage (or an SSD option) and six hours of battery life. The ThinkPad T430u Ultrabook will be available in the third quarter and start at approximately $849.

Hitachi 8 TB G-RAID

Hitachi ups the ante this year for its G-RAID external storage systems. First, G-RAID will come with up to 8 TB of storage, topping the previous high of 6 TB. The new dual-drive, RAID 0 systems will also launch with Intel's Thunderbolt interface technology for faster data transfer (up to 10 Gbps), as well as eSATA, USB 2.0 and FireWire connections. The new G-RAID will begin shipping this quarter for $899.99.

Mystery IoSafe Product

At CES 2011 IoSafe introduced its Rugged Portable, an external hard drive that comes with titanium plating that can withstand gunfire, among other threats (IoSafe invited members of the press to shoot the new product with shotguns and automatic rifles to prove its point).

So what will IoSafe do for an encore this year? The company is once again teasing a new, unnamed product that will feature Intel's new Thunderbolt I/O technology. IoSafe is hosting another big product demo this year, too, so we're curious to see how the company tests its latest disaster-proof hardware.

Biscotti TV Phone

No, it's not the cookie.

Biscotti's TV Phone isn't a mobile device, either. It's an HD camera that sits on top of your HDTV and is shaped like those delicious Italian cookies. The device plugs into your TV and allows you to make free video calls to other Biscotti users, as well as anyone using Google Talk. The Biscotti TV Phone doesn't need an existing phone line -- just a Wi-Fi signal and an HDTV. The device is currently available for $199 and requires no monthly fees.

Plantronics Calisto 835 Speakerphone

Plantronics has jazzed up the old speakerphone model with its Calisto 835, which combins IP telephony, mobile lines and landlines all in one integrated system. The Calisto 835 features a 2.4-inch color display and a PA50 wireless mic. Along with providing high-quality audio, the device can also deliver 360-degree group conference calls. The Calisto 835 is currently on sale for $279.95.

Sanho CloudFTP

You can't have CES without a few cloud products. Sanho's CloudFTP is a slick-looking pocket-size device that can turn any USB storage product into a wireless file server. The Cloud FTP can share those files with other Wi-Fi enabled devices such as tablets, notebooks and smartphones. Plus, the device can automatically backup and synchronize that USB storage data with cloud services like Apple's iCloud and Box.net. The CloudFTP device itself comes outfitted with an ARM Cortex A8 processor and rechargeable battery. It's priced at $99.95; availability not yet announced.

Nvidia Tegra 3

Nvidia recently launched a new addition to its popular mobile platform with the Tegra 3 system-on-a-chip (SoC). The new quad-core chip, based on ARM's Cortex-A9 architecture, boasts a clock speed of 1.3 GHz (1.4 GHz when using a single core) and is up to three times faster than the Tegra 2.

The new Tegra 3 consumes much less power than previous editions; the chip even has a fifth "companion" core that runs simple tasks like music or video playback, which saves energy but shutting down the other four cores. The Tegra 3 is already featured in the Asus Transformer Prime tablet, but all eyes will be on Tegra 3-powered "superphones" in Las Vegas.

Intel 'Medfield' Mobile Platform

Along with its new Ivy Bridge architecture, Intel has another big product lined up. And this one is for the crucial mobile device market -- an area where the world's largest chip maker has been surprisingly weak.

But Intel's newest Atom chip, codenamed 'Medfield,' could help the company in its battle against mobile chip giant ARM Holdings. Medfield is much different from previous versions of the Atom processor in that it's actually a system-on-a-chip (SoC). Intel has reportedly built demo tablets and smartphones featuring Medfield; hopefully we'll get a chance to see these devices in action in Las Vegas.

Lantronix xPrintServer

With the explosion of mobile devices, users are looking for easy solutions to print from their smartphones and tablets. Lantronix has an answer -- at least for Apple's iOS mobile platform.

The Lantronix xPrintServer is roughly the size of an iPhone; plug it into your network, and xPrintServer quickly enables wireless printing from any iOS device. The list of supported printers is quite long, too (more than 4,000) from leading manufacturers like HP, Xerox and Lexmark. The device doesn't require an app download or any additional software. The Lantronix xPrintServer, priced at $149.95, will begin shipping this month, according to the company.

AMD Radeon HD 7970

While the world's second-largest chip maker has struggled to gain ground on Intel in the CPU market, the company has been excelling in recent years in the graphics industry. AMD looks to keep that ball rolling with its new flagship graphics card, the Radeon HD 7970, which the company calls the fastest, most powerful card on the planet. The new 7970 is based on AMD's 28-nm architecture and, along with blazing speed, features new power management technology to keep the energy consumption at lower levels. Along with the 7970 (currently available for $549), AMD plans to show off another new 7000 series graphics card in Las Vegas.

Samsung Transparent Liquid Crystal Display

Now this is interesting -- a see-through, 22-inch panel that looks like a window or an empty fish tank but is actually a HD CLD display that runs on a solar-replenished battery. The Samsung LTI460AP01 Transparent Liquid Crystal Display is part of a new trend of transparent monitors, which Samsung believes can revolutionize digital signage technology and create "smart windows" in both homes and retail shopping locations. Pricing and availability of Samsung's LTI460AP01 model have not been announced.

LG Display 55-inch OLED TV

You can't have CES these days without at least a few new TV technologies shaking up the show floor.

LG Display announced recently that it will unveil the world's largest OLED (organic light-emitting diode) television at a whopping 55 inches; OLED technology is said to be superior -- yet much more costly -- than normal LCD or even LED technology in brightness, power efficiency and response time. LD Display says the new flat-panel TV will have a higher contrast ratio and wider color range than traditional LCD TVs. In fact, LD is calling the new OLED TV an "ultra-definition" display. No word yet on how much this monster will cost, but it's sure to be expensive.

IOGear 3D Wireless Media Kit

Sick and tired of cable clutter? IOGear may have a fix with its 3D Wireless Media Kit, which features a compact transmitter and receiver than can deliver 1080p HD video and 3D video for up to two rooms. Using the 5 GHz wireless spectrum, the 3D Wireless Media Kit doesn't require line-of-sight placement and can deliver uncompressed content for up to 100 feet. While the product is aimed at consumers' living rooms, the kit can also be used in the office to, for example, transmit HD videoconference meetings. The IOGear 3D Wireless Media Kit is currently available for $379.95.

SolarFocus SolarKindle Cover

Billed as the world's first solar e-reader case, the SolarKindle Cover does exactly what you'd expect: it charges the Kindle with a high-performance solar panel that's built into the cover. There's also a USB port for extra charging and a reserve battery, plus a built-in LED reading light. Pricing and availability not yet announced.

HP Envy Spectre

Is this HP's second Ultrabook model, following the company's Folio Ultrabook? Whether it's an Ultrabook or not doesn't matter -- HP's new Envy Spectre is a sleek-looking 14-inch notebook that's pegged as a serious rival to Apple's popular MacBook Air. HP released a promotional video of the product, which provides a brief – very brief – glimpse of its ultra-slim case, but no word yet on specifications or components inside this new notebook.

HP Omni27 PC

HP's newest all-in-one (AIO) desktop PC is the company's first 27-inch AIO model. With a huge HD display, the 27-inch Omni can tilt up to 25 degrees and comes with HP's Magic Canvas software, which allows users to expand the desktop horizontally to accommodate specific photos, videos or applications. The new Omni27 model also comes with a range of options for multi-core CPUs and discrete GPUs, not to mention up to 2 TB of storage and optional an Blu-ray drive and TV tuner. The HP Omni27 will launch on Jan. 8 starting at $1,199.

Sensible Vision FastAccess Anywhere

Sensible Vision, a face recognition software maker, will introduce a new app in Las Vegas called FastAccess Anywhere. Similar to previous versions of the company's FastAcess software, Anywhere is a mobile app that replaces passwords and instead uses facial recognition for logging on to devices (Android, Windows and iOS) and accessing password-protected Web sites and applications. Sensible Vision says photos and videos won't fool its technology, too. The app will launch in February, but no word yet on pricing.

Sensics 3D SmartGoggles

At last year's CES during the 3D boom, we saw our share of cheesy-looking eyewear and cheap, flimsy 3D glasses. Now there's Sensics' 3D SmartGoggles, which has the look of a futuristic space helmet and aims to take 3D visuals to the next level. The device comes with an on-board HUD (heads up display) with its own CPU, memory and Android OS. SmartGoggles features 360-degree first-person hand tracking and can run Android applications in standalone mode or connect to PCs, tablets, smartphones and game consoles for a variety of 3D applications. Pricing and availability have not been announced.