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January 14, 2017

2017 CES  

It's Not Low Tech..

..it's GO TECH !

           
 

by John Miller

images by Lee Lichtenstein

The 2017 CES ('Electronics Show') featured thousands of exhibitors showing off the latest in high-tech wares: virtual reality, quad-copters, self-driving cars---all cutting edge. ML1 Media looked not just at high-tech, but came away with some decidedly 'low' tech gear...or as we prefer, GO-TECH, for its value in portability and mobility.

In spite of the trends towards bigger--TV's, mobile phones, capacity of solid state storage-drives, even selfie-sticks, ML1 Media places a high value on small items that provide high versatility and usability. We're especially interested in gear that travels well ---spending a lot of time in cramped airplanes with the ever-shrinking carry-on bag allowances gives us an exceptional interest in all things portable. At CES 2017, we examined numerous portable/travel tech items -- the sort of gear we refer to as GO-tech.

This year we evaluated over a dozen different mobile keyboards and narrowed the choices down to two: a fantastically portable roll-up style and a 3-piece folding style (pictured at right). The roll-up earned excellent remarks for its keyboard feel and layout, and positively excelled at portability--its the size of a bratwurst when rolled up, but failed on a usability factor--no mouse/cursor control. The tri-fold keyboard is a clear winner for us. It's small, but functional, with good key feel, exceptional size when folded, and has a versatile touchpad for cursor control on Android, Windows, and Linux systems. Apple IOS does not support cursor control, but this keyboard does offer Apple specific keys for i- devices. In the week following CES, we've tested this keyboard on two Android tablets, a Windows 10 tablet, a Windows 10 laptop, and a Raspberry Pi3 system running Linux. The bluetooth connection was immediate on all systems and the key and cursor control accurate. The downside: absolutely none -- we ordered another 4 of them for staff use. They are available from numerous sources, and can be found online for as little as $25 each.   

Another GO-tech item we tested from CES: An inexpensive touchscreen stylus that doubles as a USB connector (pictures 1 & 2 at right) -- USB-C to USB-A -- the type of connection you might use to connect a tablet or smartphone to a PC or laptop (for data transfer or charging). We found this compelling for many reasons: It's a decent non-marring stylus, it has the USB connectors hidden 'inside' of it, it has a retainer clip that neatly plugs into the audio/earphone jack of most tablets, and (best of all) a retail price of approximately one dollar. Our Managing Editor gracious approved the purchase of 10!

Another GO-tech item we tested is the Gekkopod by zbam (pictured below). It's described as a flexible mount for phones and cameras. In truth, it's much more. It flexibility allows it to be used in all sorts of situations --a camera tripod, a clamp to unusual shaped surface---we clamped it to a car mirror, a tree branch, a stair rail, a ceiling fan--and it never broke loose. It even functions as a tablet stand when properly 'bent'. This will become a go-to travel item for us ---an all-in-one that can be used before, during, and after a  work assignment. The Gekkopod retails online for about $15 and comes in lots of cool colors.

One more item that isn't exactly low-tech, but we're are definitely finding to be GO-TECH is our new NuVison Windows 10 tablet (pictured below). This 8" tablet is running Windows 10, 64bit PRO and (so far), seems to offer about 90% of the functionality of our Windows 10 laptops, while weighing mere ounces instead of pounds.We liked it enough at CES to buy one outright for testing. It retails for under $100 at the Microsoft store. Combined with the folding keyboard (above) it's getting a lot of 'testing' this month.

Our last item of note from CES --- file this under GO...TECH, but its not portable. It may be an idea (and real product) that's ahead of its time. The SMART-toilet (pictured below-center) will not be a GO-to (too?) item for us--No one on the ML1 staff has yet had the courage to investigate it's (alleged) SMARTs.

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