Geek Girl Report: From Smart Watches To Steam Machines – My Top Picks and Gadgets From CES 2014
It’s January, a brand new year, and time for one of my favorite events of the year: The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada. For tech heads like me, it’s a giant playground for folks to get their hands on the latest and greatest the technology world has to offer consumers. And this year was no exception. After wading through the crowds of stories about wearable technology, weird curvy TVs, and new gizmos and gadgets, I found plenty of things to get excited about. Here are just a few of the cool new gadgets and stories I was most excited about coming out of this year’s CES.
If CES is any indication, 2014’s must-have accessory will be wearable technology. A large array of devices was on display at this year’s show, everything from smart glasses to smart watches and even a few smart wristbands. Although there are too many to mention here, a few of the gadgets that caught my attention include the Pebble Steel smart watches (they look classy and much more professional than the previous plastic models), the Razer Nabu smart wristband, (a fitness tracker, texting and E-mail device, and GPS all in one. Plus, shaking hands with another user to transfer data is pretty cool) and the Samsung Galaxy Gear. (a wristwatch that functions with your Android phone is a cool idea, but could still use a little more refinement)
Oddly enough, this seems to be the one tech field that Apple hasn’t gotten their hands on yet. Whether or not they’ll come out with something new later this year or leave it alone for now remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: this is the year of wearable tech.
It’s no surprise that Steam, Valve’s wildly popular and widely-used download service, has effectively dominated the PC gaming market. Now they’re looking to dominate the console market as well…at some point. At this year’s CES, Valve revealed over a dozen different prototypes for the Steam Machine, its, from about 13 different hardware developers including Alienware, Falcon Northwest and Digital Storm.
Although the machines look cool, they don’t offer any concrete information about the Steam Machine, just a bunch of “what ifs.” Each of the manufacturers’ machines vary in size, specifications, and with prices ranging from $500 to a whopping $6,000 for the machines. Not to mention that Valve is constructing its own in-house version of the Steam Machine, which is in beta testing right now. But if nothing else, Valve’s showing at CES does prove one thing: Valve is taking a serious look at breaking into the console market. Now if only they’d take a serious look at releasing Half Life 3…
Speaking of prototypes, one gadget that seems to be in a perpetual state of prototype is the Oculus Rift, a wearable virtual reality headset that many have been hailing as the next major step in gaming. But this year’s offering, codenamed “Crystal Cove, looks to be the most promising iteration yet. The headset itself is a bit smaller and noticeably lighter than previous version, and the device’s resolution has been upped to 1080p, as opposed to 720p. More impressively, the device also features greatly improved head tracking that tracks not only the movements of your head, but your upper body movements as well. All of this makes for a truly immersive gaming experience
The Oculus Rift keeps getting more and more impressive with each prototype that comes out. And although there is still (regrettably) no official word on a release date or a price tag, it feels like we’re finally getting close to a final version of this amazing product. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next for Oculus Rift, and more importantly, what the final version will finally look like.
Back in 2012, Sony purchased the cloud-streaming gaming service Gaikai, but never gave an explanation why. And now, two years later, we know why: PlayStation Now. This latest announcement from Sony will allow gamers to seamlessly play PS3 games on the PS4, as well as on the PS Vita and BRAVIA TVs. Think of it as Sony’s version of Steam.
It may not be a gadget or some cool new device, but for PS4 gamers, this is a big deal. One of my biggest gripes against the PS4 is the lack of backwards compatibility. There is a fantastic library of games on the PS3, including critically-acclaimed games like Bioshock Infinite and The Last Of Us. So I’m very glad to see that Sony is addressing this issue. There’s no word yet on how much the games or the new streaming service itself may cost, but unlike some of the other stories I’ve talked about, this one has an actual release date: Summer 2014.