IN PICTURES: CES 2012 top picks - Just the best gear, gadgets, and tech

Here is a collection of the the best of CES: The products, the themes, and some quirky meditations

  • SteelSeries Ion Controller: Great games for Android devices abound, but a good many of them simply don't play so well when you try to use the touchscreen as a standard-issue gamepad. SteelSeries aims to fix that by developing a small, sturdy Bluetooth gamepad called the Ion that will work with your Android smartphone or tablet as well as your PC. It's due out in the second half of 2012--and if it can get enough developers to support it, I may just retire my 3DS for good. - Patrick Miller

  • Asus Eee Pad MeMo ME370T: This is the other tablet to watch, and not just because of its specs. It'll have Nvidia's Tegra 3 and a bright, 1280-by-800-resolution 7-inch display. But the real reason to run, not walk, to the MeMo? It's going to sell for $US250. - Melissa Perenson

  • Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga: It’s a Tablet. It’s an Ultrabook. It’s the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga. The device is inventive, and pushes the definition of convertible laptop/tablet into new territory with its unique design. Due later this year, this laptop's 13.3-inch display has a hinge mechanism that lets you flip it all the way around to transform into a tablet. It also can be used in two other positions. Though the concept isn't perfect in its early execution, I'm intrigued. - Melissa Perenson

  • Shocking Demo From a CEO That Knows What He's Doing: ioSafe is showing off its new rugged, Thunderbolt-compatible hard drive by zapping it with a million volts of electricity via a huge Tesla coil. After an impressive Tesla-coil demo, a MacBook Air unsurprisingly failed to recognize the drive. So ioSafe CEO Robb Moore jumped in with a screwdriver and did some real-time physical data recovery right in front of us--it took about 5 minutes, but our data was recovered. Glad to see some CEOs don't mind getting their hands dirty with their products. - Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

  • Advanced Cameras on Smartphones: The Nokia Lumia 900 isn’t the only CES smartphone with a fancy camera--a couple of others bowed as well. The HTC Titan II has a 16-megapixel camera with an F2.6 aperture and a ton of advanced features and shooting modes. Another is the Xperia Ion from Sony Ericcson, whose 12-megapixel camera has a panorama mode, and the phone also does front-HD video recording (at 1080p). It also uses Sony Exmor R technology, which is Sony’s CMOS sensor (useful for taking photos in dimly-lit environments), a sensor found in its stand-alone cameras. - Ginny Mies

  • MadCatz Street Fighter X Tekken FightStick V.S. Newbies need not apply: The $200 Street Fighter X Tekken FightStick V.S. is only for the die-hard arcade loyalist - like me. This elite arcade stick is constructed with an extra-sturdy metal chassis and slightly wider dimensions than a standard MadCatz FightStick TE, which you're going to need because this FightStick V.S. can actually attach to another FightStick V.S. with a $20 connection kit that screws into the bottom faceplates on both side, essentially grafting the two together into one unit that matches the dimensions of the Vewlix Street Fighter IV arcade cabinet standards. It's beautiful. - Patrick Miller

  • Recharge Your Phone From a Stream: The PowerTrekk system is great for hikers who want to use their GPS devices or phones when they're far from a power outlet. Just add a little water to the PowerTrekk, a small gadget about the size and weight of an energy bar, and a chemical reaction produces the power of four AA batteries, enough to power a phone for 10 hours. The device should be available at REI starting in May. - Edward N. Albro

  • Razer’s Project Fiona: It’s a gamble - and one I’m not entirely sure will pay off - but Razer’s PC gaming tablet is a tantalizing prospect. Razer has plenty of experience making gaming peripherals, and if they can leverage some of that know-how into a slick piece of gaming hardware, they could have a winner on their hands. Check out my hands-on test drive. - Nate Ralph

  • Sony Ion Experia Smartphone: What’s not to love about Sony’s Xperia Ion smartphone? With an impressive 1280-by-720-resolution display, the Ion is one of the first phones that will be able to connect to AT&T’s LTE network. Among other things to like about the Ion is the fact that this PlayStation-certified device will be able to download and play classic PlayStation and PlayStation Portable games. - Armando Rodriguez

  • Dell XPS 13: Small and light, with an awesome carbon-fiber body and great looks, the XPS 13 is the most appealing laptop I’ve seen from Dell in years. - Jason Cross

  • Logitech Cube: The Cube is not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but you have to give Logitech credit for true innovation with its fresh take on the venerable mouse. Only slightly larger than a couple of sugar cubes (it measures roughly 2 by 1 by two-thirds inches), with no moving parts (you tap it to click), the Logitech Cube has a touch-sensitive surface as well as an optical "eye" for scrolling--and you can turn it into a presentation mouse by simply picking it up. No replacing batteries, either - you charge it with a USB cable. - Yardena Arar

  • Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX: At last, Motorola has come up with an answer for pitiful smartphone battery life. The Droid Razr Maxx is a bit thicker than the original Droid Razr, but it gets 21 hours of talk time on a charge, or 6 hours of streaming video, on Verizon's 4G LTE network. - Jared Newman

  • Cute Little Cubelets: I wrote about these little robotic blocks called Cubelets a year ago, and I was pleasantly surprised to find the company's booth by accident here at CES. Each block has a function--like a motor cube, a dial cube, or a motion-sensor cube--and when you fit them together, they make multifunction robots. The guys at Cubelets told me they're having trouble keeping up with demand for the toys, and I'm glad they're doing well. - Megan Guess

  • Google Wallet Support on the LG Viper: While the LG Viper is an impressive device on its own, the reason it’s one of my picks is that it has an NFC chip and supports Google Wallet, the smartphone payments app, so theoretically I'll be able to use only my phone to pay for things. Google Wallet so far works on just a small number of devices, so to see another phone that supports it is great news for anyone who has wanted to try it out, but didn’t want a Nexus phone. - Armando Rodriguez

  • Samsung Galaxy Note: Samsung's Galaxy Note has been getting a lot of flak for being “oversized” with its 5-inch display. But I love the fact that it comes with a Wacom-powered pen for drawing and writing. And it is refreshing to see something different from all the black rectangular 4.3-inch phones floating around the show floor. Samsung even had artists on the floor using the Galaxy Note to draw caricatures of CES attendees. - Ginny Mies

  • Finally, a Relatively Cheap Bike Power Meter: Among bicycle geeks, the gold standard for measuring your exertion is with a power meter that reads out the watts of power you're generating. But those power meters are finely tooled pieces of equipment that cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. The folks at iBike have figured out a way to measure power cheaply with an iPhone. Their case measures the forces you're riding against -- wind, hills, and so on -- and compares that with your speed, and then calculates your watts. The iBike Powerhouse system will cost just $US269 when it comes out later this year. - Edward N. Albro

  • LG's 3D Wall: I don't care whether 3D on the HDTVs we buy is dead or not: LG's huge 3D display at the Las Vegas Convention Center (consisting of literally dozens of smaller screens wired together across a huge swath of wall) was nothing short of breathtaking - one of the best AV shows I've seen at CES in recent years. It made the 3D on my local Imax look and sound almost puny - and for the record, I think it made the 55-inch OLED 3D look like an afterthought. - Yardena Arar

  • Drinking the Green Kool-Aid: Kudos to Sharp for sponsoring a solar-powered charging station for CES attendees. That's green tech in action--and we should see more of that at CES. - Yardena Arar

  • Xerox Portable Scanner: I like the elegant design and smart technology that's in the new Xerox Mobile Scanner, not to mention the fact that it solves some real problems for iPad-using business people on the go. For $US249, it will turn paper documents and images into PDFs or JPGs--and send them via Wi-Fi (provided by an Eye-Fi SD Card) to your iPad. - Yardena Arar

  • Wilocity Gigabit Wireless: My fingers are crossed that the WiGig Alliance's Wireless Gigabit standard takes off. Why? Wireless Gigabit will allow devices--anything from PCs to tablets to TVs--to communicate with each other on the 60GHz spectrum band at theoretical maximum speeds of 7 gigabits per second. What that translates into is a wire-free link from, for example, your laptop to your HDTV for displaying movies or pictures, or for video conferencing. Although we weren't able to test how well transmitting on the band worked when, say, you're walking around with your laptop and trying to transmit video to a TV, devices that weren't moving transmitted data between each other at crazy fast rates. - Megan Guess

  • Controlling Things With Your Eyes: I'll admit, I was skeptical at first about Tobii Technology's eye-controlled laptops. Not skeptical about the technology itself so much, but skeptical about the usefulness of using your eyes as an "additional" input device, on top of your keyboard and mouse. But after trying out the technology (on a unit built by Lenovo), I have to admit it's pretty cool--and I can definitely see how it will be useful for designers, people with disabilities, and even just regular users. After all, it's not really an additional input device the way a mouse or a keyboard is, because it has no learning curve. - Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

  • Vizio's Upcoming Laptops: Great design and no junkware or stickers, aiming at very high performance and aggressive pricing. Take a look at our coverage of Vizio's laptop announcements here at CES. - Jason Cross

  • Lots of Fast Storage in a Small Package: If you want to pack lots of fast storage into a small, light package, you'd be hard-pressed to beat OCZ's Lightfoot. This external solid-state drive uses the new Thunderbolt interface to achieve transfer rates up to 750MB per second. That'll move a full-length HD movie in less than 30 seconds, according to OCZ. The Lightfoot, due out later this year, will come in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB sizes. At about $US2 per GB, they won't be cheap, but they will be fast. - Edward N. Albro

  • Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700T: This best-of-class Android tablet (Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700T) gets even better with an upgraded high-resolution display. With a resolution of 1920 by 1200, this model's brilliant display looks sharp and crisp, with bolder and richer colors. Asus says it will ship by midyear with Android 4.0 on-board--and mid-year can't come soon enough. - Melissa Perenson

  • Nokia Lumia 900: The Nokia Lumia 900 is the Windows Phone I’ve been waiting for. When Nokia announced that it would be hopping on the Windows Phone train, I was excited. As I’ve written many times before, I’ve always loved Nokia hardware (particularly the Carl Zeiss cameras), but I didn’t like the look and feel of Symbian. Windows Phone seemed to have the opposite problem: great operating system, uninspiring hardware. The Lumia 900 has it all: An 8-megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, an eye-catching design, a crisp, curved display, and AT&T LTE 4G connectivity. - Ginny Mies

  • What We Liked at CES 2012: Tech that shined at CES 2012 ranged from Ultrabooks, tablets, faster wireless technologies, and innovative gadgets that would make James Bond envious. That's the verdict from PCWorld editors who spent a week wandering the 1.86 million square feet of the CES trade-show floor and attending offsite press events. What you won't find in our Best of CES 2012 roundup is overhyped digital gear that fell flat. Nor were we snookered by the likes of Snooki of MTV's Jersey Shore fame (who was in Vegas to promote iHip's Bedazzled headphones). What we did find were genuine tech gems from companies as big as Microsoft to tiny firms you've never heard of. Here is a collection of the the best of CES: The products, the themes, and some quirky meditations.

  • Big-screen OLED and Crystal LED: LG, Samsung, and Sony each showed off 55-inch LED sets that displayed jaw-dropping vibrancy, contrast, sharpness, and fluid motion. The outstanding picture quality even shone through in 8-megapixel phone images snapped of each screen, as the on-screen video looked brighter, sharper, crisper, and higher-resolution than the actual real-world objects around them. LG and Samsung's sets are OLED displays that don't have official pricing information yet but are due to launch before the end of the year; Sony's set uses a competing technology dubbed Crystal LED, and its set is still in the prototype stages. - Tim Moynihan

  • The RFA Powerbag: This year's CES is rife with portable battery packs, but none are so convenient as RFA Brands' Powerbag, which is a comfortable, quality backpack with a lightweight, 6000-mAh battery and prethreaded wires for charging your gadgets. The pack can charge up to four devices at a time, thanks to the prethreaded Micro- and Mini-USB cords, the iPhone cord, and the USB port on the battery pack. Gadgets that need a higher output will need to use the USB port on the battery pack - apparently my Samsung Galaxy Nexus is on a par with a tablet. - Sarah Jacobsson Purewal

  • Intel-Powered Android Phones: Intel had several prototype Android phones at its booth, all powered by single-core Intel Atom processors. The company claims that these new chips consume less power than current mobile processors, without having to sacrifice performance. What's the coolest thing that these Intel chips bring to Android? A burst mode that takes ten pictures in less than 2 seconds. - Armando Rodriguez

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