LAS VEGAS -- The Consumer Electronics Show (or CES, to you) for 2013 has come and gone; and despite increased Internet belly-aching that the goliath tech convention has become irrelevant or less of a tastemaker than in years past, there were still a great number of eye-popping, jaw-dropping, innovative, exciting gadgets on display here in Las Vegas.
From a computerized fork that buzzes and illuminates when you're eating too quickly, to a small gizmo that can track the location of your lost luggage, to a cheap-o handheld gaming console that could change the future of video games, CES 2013 was both a fruitful display of ingenuity and a sneak peek at what the future of technology holds for both geeks and non-geeks alike. We've picked out 17 gadgets below, which are the most important, the coolest, the most buzzed-about or simply our favorite from the show floor. Dive in, and you just might find your next gotta-have-it device.
(Note that some of the photos below were taken using the Lytro camera -- another mind-blowing device -- and can be refocused by clicking on them).
This story appears in Issue 31 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available January 11.
Huawei Ascend Mate
Move over, Galaxy Note: Huawei debuted the Ascend Mate, an Android device that now <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/ascend-mate-huawei-worlds-largest-smartphone_n_2435110.html">holds the title of smartphone with the world's largest display</a>. At 6.1 inches diagonally, the Ascend Mate beats out the 5.5-inch screen of Samsung's Galaxy Note phablet, and positively dwarfs the iPhone 5's 4.0-inch display. As smartphone displays get larger and larger, we have to ask: At what point will we just be holding our iPads up to our faces to make phone calls? <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/ascend-mate-huawei-worlds-largest-smartphone_n_2435110.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular">You can read more about the Huawei Ascend Mate here</a>; <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/ascend-mate-huawei-worlds-largest-smartphone_n_2435110.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular">no word on pricing or American release date just yet</a> (it goes on sale in China in February, though, in case you're planning a vacation).
Overeating and weight gain can occur when you shovel food into your mouth too quickly. This "intelligent fork" has sensors on both ends that track of each bite you take, and the whole fork buzzes and lights up if it thinks you are eating too fast. A whole new meaning to the "Slow Food" movement. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/hapifork-buzzing-fork-solution-overeating_n_2433222.html">You can read more about the HAPIfork here</a>; it is expected to ship in the coming months for $99, and <a href="http://www.hapilabs.com/tracking-soon.asp">you'll be able to order it here, from the HAPILABS website</a>.
Ultra HD Televisions
Samsung, Sony, Sharp, LG and more all unveiled new so-called "Ultra HD" TVs, which pack in way more pixels on the screen than your 1080p set at home. The result? The most gorgeous picture you've ever seen in a living room. We couldn't pick just one favorite; <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/best-tvs-ces-2013_n_2440389.html">click here for our choices for the seven best we saw at CES</a>.
This new portable gaming console may look like an Xbox controller with a display chunked on top, but it's so much more: On the Shield, you can play any Android game or stream any game from your PC to the screen. Watch out, Nintendo. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/07/nvidia-project-shield-tegra-4/">You can read much more about the NVIDIA Shield here</a>; NVIDIA has not yet given a price or release date, but <a href="http://shield.nvidia.com/">Project Shield does have an official website here</a>.
We're getting closer and closer to that hoverboard: On this electric skateboard, you lean forward to move forward and lean forward to slow down, no kick or push required. Coast around town on your skateboard without ruining the soles of your shoes, hepcat. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/gallery/zboard/5047737/">You can read more about the ZBoard here</a>; <a href="http://www.zboardshop.com/">one can be yours for $650 when you order it here</a>.
A portable iPhone charger the size of a credit card. One end plugs into your phone, and then a rubber extension doubles as a USB charger, which you can plug into your computer. Ditch the cord and carry around your charger in your wallet. <a href="http://www.techhive.com/article/259723/the_chargecard_is_the_compact_usb_charger_we_ve_all_been_waiting_for.html#tk.hp_new">You can read more about Charge Card here</a>, and <a href="http://www.chargecardproject.com/">you can order one for $25.00 here</a>.
Dish Hopper With Sling
The Dish Hopper was already pretty handy: A home DVR that allowed you to watch recorded shows on any TV in the house, not just the one on which it was recorded. Now Dish has added Slingbox functionality, which means you can watch your recordings on any PC, tablet or smartphone you own, too -- <a href="http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/custom/Documents/CBS_Complaint.PDF">if it can win an ongoing lawsuit against CBS</a>, that is. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/07/dish-hopper-sling/">You can find about more about the Dish Hopper with Sling here</a>; Dish has not yet released pricing or release info, <a href="http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2414135,00.asp">but according to PCMag</a>, it will be adding that information within a month.
Lenovo's 27-Inch IdeaCentre Horizon Tablet
Much as the Huawei Ascend Mate refocused the size conversation in mobile, so too has Lenovo's enormous 27-inch tabletop Windows 8 tablet sparked a fury of discussion surrounding all-in-one desktops and tables. The Horizon Tablet is as a multi-user device, mostly aimed at gamers and home entertainers. Perhaps most intriguingly (to me!), the IdeaCentre Horizon also ships with air hockey paddles, a set of dice and a spinning top, for integration with a suite of games that comes pre-loaded on the machine. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/lenovo-tablet-27-inch-family-sized_n_2421872.html">You can read more about the Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon Tablet here</a>; it will be released this summer starting at $1699. <a href="http://www.lenovo.com/products/us/desktop/ideacentre/horizon/">You can pre-order here</a>.
It sounds like a newspaper covering the world of Instagram, but Instabeat is actually far more interesting (for this former swimmer, at least): It's a small waterproof sensor that you strap on to your swim goggles, which tracks your breaths, heart rate, flip turns, number of laps and more. The Instabeat also houses a small light, which glows red, blue or green in the swimmer's periphery, depending on his or her current heartbeat. <a href="http://www.instabeat.me/product.php">The Instabeat available for preorder now for $149</a> and should be released in the coming months.
Pure coolness: The Displair projects any display onto a misting wall of vapor, which you can then control with your fingers just like you would any other touchscreen. There's no great use for this technology yet, but it sure is cool to play Fruit Ninja on a screen made of mist. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/displair-projector-water-display-misty-touchscreen_n_2443290.html">You can read more abou Displair here</a>; it will cost around $10,000 when it goes on sale later this year.
Invented by an MIT pediatrician, the Gecko Cap is a rubber sensor that you put on top of your child's inhaler. When he or she needs to use the inhaler, a light on the cap starts to flash and doesn't stop until the inhaler has been used. It also syncs with a smartphone app so that a parent can see when the child has used the inhaler from afar. <a href="http://www.geckocap.com/">You can visit the Gecko Cap website here</a>; no pricing or release date information yet, but you can expect a Kickstarter launch very soon, according to the founder.
Curved TVs From Samsung And LG
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/curved-televisions-by-samsung-lg_n_2434123.html">LG and Samsung raced to unveil</a> the world's first televisions with curved glass displays. No release date or price point for these bad boys; I'd guess "not soon" and "a lot of money."
Samsung's Wi-Fi Enabled Refrigerator
Yes, you read that correctly: Samsung's refrigerator can connect to your home Wi-Fi. This year, Samsung added the Evernote app to the LCD display right above the ice dispenser, so that you can jot down your grocery list on the fridge and then check it on your smartphone when you're at the store. It also comes with Twitter, a recipe app, Pandora radio and weather and news information. If you see your husband standing in front of the freezer for two hours, that's (probably) why. <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/07/samsung-debuts-t9000-refrigerator-with-lcd-and-evernote-integrat/">Read more about Samsung's latest Wi-Fi fridge here; it will cost $4,000 when it is released this spring, per Engadget</a>.
Eton Rukus Solar
Maybe I'm just dreaming of the summer weather, but I love both the design and the concept behind Eton's Rukus Solar, a stylish, solar-powered Bluetooth speaker. Beach season is so, so close. <a href="http://techcrunch.com/2012/07/23/review-the-eton-rukus-solar-is-the-perfect-outdoor-music-companion/">Read the TechCrunch review of the Rukus Solar here</a>; <a href="http://www.etoncorp.com/en/productdisplay/rukus-solar-1">the speaker costs $149 and you can order it right here</a>.
Be intrigued by this innovative concept smartphone, you will: The YotaPhone (no, not YodaPhone) features your typical LCD screen on the front, running Android; on the back, though, is an e-ink screen, like you would find on some Amazon Kindles, that can mirror the LCD display or run any smartphone app. E-ink displays, though nowhere near as crisp or responsive as LCD displays, require far less battery to be powered; so if you're out on the town and your battery is running low, but you still need a map, or your voicemail, or your text messaging, just switch over to the e-ink side and power down the front. Approve, we do. <a href="http://techland.time.com/2013/01/09/hands-on-with-russias-yotaphone-finally-something-different/">You can read more about the YotaPhone here</a>; no price or release date information just yet. <a href="http://www.yotaphone.com/">Visit the YotaPhone website here</a>.
Parrot Flower Power
Ensure that you never kill your plants again with Parrot's Flower Power, a smart sensor that you place in the soil of your potted plant and that beams relevant data -- amount of fertilizer, pH levels, sunlight, humidity and temperature -- to an app on your smartphone. <a href="http://www.parrot.com/flower-power/">The Flower Power is slated for a spring 2013 release</a>; until then, you'll have to manage not to keep your plants a live without the benefit of computerized data analytics. The price has yet to be released, but <a href="http://www.parrot.com/flower-power/">you can sign up to be notified on Parrot's website</a>.
A small battery-powered tracker (with cell reception!) that you place in your luggage, so that if it gets lost in transit you can find its location on a smartphone app. Why didn't the airlines think of this years ago? <a href="http://mashable.com/2013/01/06/trakdot/">You can read more about Trakdot here</a>; the luggage tracker will cost $50, plus $9 activation and a $13 annual service fee.