Author: Hienrich Jager
Editor: Howard Ha
Publish Date: Thursday, January 19th, 2012
Originally Published on Neoseeker (http://www.neoseeker.com)
Article Link: http://www.neoseeker.com/Articles/Hardware/Reviews/CES_2012_DAY_4/
Copyright Neo Era Media, Inc. - please do not redistribute or use for commercial purposes.
At least we hit our Day 4 coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show 2012! Time to turn back time and hit the floor again.
Yoga Electronics is a full-range audio production company based out of China that has made quality karaoke and PC microphones, drum and instrument mic kits, and various pieces of equipment for studios. By 2004, Yoga Electronics had fully developed their headphone clean-rooms and production lines and began to market their headsets in Hong Kong and China. Based on the business principle of "adjustability and persistence", their goal has to been produce a wide array of audio headsets ranging in quality from PC tower speakers to studio quality ear monitors.
There was a wide range of products on display at their booth for CES 2012, but unfortunately all of them were behind Plexiglas windows and boxes and thus reporters couldn't actually pick them up for a test-drive. Their main display was the CD-990 Hi-Fi stereo headphones. These headphones utilize a 42 mm neodymium driver to produce a respectable 98dB/mW over a 10Hz to 26kHz frequency range. As with all of the higher-end headphones offered by Yoga, the cables connecting these headphones to the audio source are removable as shown in the picture above. The CD-990's are not actually wireless as the picture seems to imply.
Right next to the CD-990 display were the CD-880 headphones. There did not seem to be any hardware difference between these two products, at least according to the display card next to them, as they seem to share all the same basic stats. However, the CD-880s were rated as capable of producing 100dB/mW of sound energy. The main difference between these two headphones seemed to be styling, which in fact makes up a large portion of the differing products that Yoga offers. Similar to SkullCandy, they have focused most of their creative energy into physical appearance and stylistic considerations.
Yoga Electronics were also featuring a new product line that they just started this past design season. The CD-2100 shown on the left and the CD-1100 on the right are both fully collapsible headphones that come in both black and white colors. The CD-2100 headphones utilize a 50mm diameter neodymium driver in both ear-muffs that is rated at producing 100dB of sound energy measured at 1kHz. Meanwhile, the CD-1100 headphones use a smaller neodymium driver that measures 40 mm in diameter yet still manages to put out 100dB at 1kHz.
For the hard-core communications people out there, Yoga also produces a line of single-muff headsets with a powerful microphone located at the end of a flexible boom. This headset has a long coiled cable that connects to your audio source and there are both 1/4" and 1/8's standard audio jacks at the other end to fit a wide variety of systems. This headset features a medium sized driver measuring 50 mm in diameter that is capable of producing 96dB / mW. The dynamic microphone is rated at -80dB sensitivity and will provide a frequency response from 100Hz to 12kHz.
There was also an entire wall of their booth devoted to showcasing the wide range of microphones and recording equipment that Yoga Electronics also produces, though sadly they did not have any product literature for these devices or little signs next to each one identifying what they were and their capabilities.
Another little booth that was tucked away from the main crowd of larger and flashier display booths was the small 9'x9' space rented out by a new company called Cideko. So new that they don't even have a Wikipedia page yet, this product developer from Taiwan is offering a unique series of wireless interface devices that I have not seen before. Focusing on three main areas of innovation, convenience, and uniqueness, they have developed a line of wireless keyboards that are about the size of an overlarge phone with a full keyboard.
Operating on Bluetooth technologies, this keyboard design has an effective range of roughly 15 meters, less if transmitting through a wall, and runs on two AA batteries with more than 50 hours of battery life. The Air Keyboard (AVK02) shown above also comes with mouse control capabilities that operate off the motion of the entire unit, utilizing an internal gyroscope. This level of control gives a whole new meaning to home theater PCs, as you no longer have to deal with a clunky remote or an unwieldy mouse and keyboard setup, allowing for seamless integration of your PC with that amazing new HD TV that you just got.
Cideko's more advanced Air Keyboard, the Chatting AK05, has additional features such as headphone and microphone jacks built into the bottom of the unit's chassis. This combined with an internal rechargeable Lithium-ion battery enables the user to chat over instant messenger while using VOIP capabilities from the comfort of anywhere the 10 meter wireless range allows you to go. In my opinion, the best feature about either of these two air keyboards is that the Bluetooth dongle does not require any software to be installed on the host machine, meaning that these devices are usable on any computer regardless of whether is it running Windows, Mac OS, or Linux flavor. This makes it extremely useful to users of XBMC or other PC based home theater interfaces that normal remotes do not interface well with.
Cideko has also come out with an innovative solution for all you iPad gamers out there. By enabling the user to seamlessly mount their iPad onto the Air Racer, complete with a power plug and audio/video ports out, any gamer can enjoy their favorite racing or flying game from nearly anywhere. The Air Racer has a ball-joint connection mounted under the wheel itself that allows for movement in all three directions and enables the control of such functions like throttle, steering, and tight cornering. The Air Racer also has built-in WiFi transmission and receiver functionality so that you can stream the images on your tablet to any television or computer that receives an HDMI interface. Currently there are only mounting options and connections to support Apple's iPad, but the company representative said that they are developing the capabilities to interface with several other big name tablet manufacturers. She would not mention which exactly they were, unfortunately.
Finally, Cideko had on display a custom controller that they developed specifically for its gaming and chatting capabilities. Shown above with a PS3, this controller also interfaces with a computer so the user can play their favorite games while instant messaging a friend, or enemy, seamlessly. For the gamers who cannot stand the mouse and keyboard interface, I imagine that the PlayStation layout of the buttons on this gamepad would prove quite welcome. This gamepad also features a fully operational mouse interface as well, controlled by a built-in gyroscope. Operating on rechargeable Lithium-ion batteries, this device will give you more than twenty hours of use from anywhere you want as long as it is ten meters from the receiver that is plugged into your PS3 or PC. There weren't examples of how this device wirelessly communicates, but I imagine that it is also Bluetooth capable. The one shown in the picture above is connected to the PS3 by an optional USB cable just so that it would not run out of battery over the course of the 12 hour day on the CES floor.
SkullCandy is audio company that has taken a stand against the self-diagnosed problem of unfashionable headphone products in the marketplace today. Founded in 2003, leader Rick Alden has developed a brand name that reflects the collision of the music, fashion and action sports lifestyles. Operating in over 70 different countries across the globe, SkullCandy products can often be found decorating the shelves of sports outfitters and specialty retailers.
On display at their booth this year were their Mix Master and Aviator series that came in a wide variety of different colors and patterns to match whatever your lifestyle is. The headphones shown in the left picture above are from the Mix Master series and are designed for the serious DJ. Tested and endorsed by Mix Master Mike, the company representative told me that these are the only headphones that he uses in all of his shows. Sporting a 50 mm diameter Mylar cone attached to a neodymium driver these headphones will definitely deliver the 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency range that the company claims. In the right side picture are the new Aviator series of headphones that were designed in collaboration with Aviator sunglasses. This series will be SkullCandy's premier offering for this upcoming year and after getting the chance to try on a pair I do not doubt that claim. Their audio quality was akin to the $1,500.00 Sennheiser's that I had tried on a few booths back and you can hardly tell that you are wearing them because they are so light.
There was also a large display cabinet containing SkullCandy's HESH series of headphones. Designed for the party rocker, these headphones come in an amazing variety of colors and designs from your favorite collegiate team to far out psychedelic color swathes. Driven by a unique Neodymium Iron-Boride magnet, the 50 mm diameter Mylar cones will deliver an impressive 110 dB of sound energy across the 20 to 20kHz frequency range that they are rated for.
SkullCandy had a large booth this year that also featured several new designs of ear buds, but sadly I was not able to get any non-blurry images of their products as the crush was so terrible that I felt like I was in a Beijing subway and my elbows were constantly being jostled. Regardless, keep an eye out for their upcoming releases as they promise to be just as excellent as their reputation implies.
Asus has evolved since its inception during the stone age of consumer-level computer products, sometime around 1990 basically, into a world-class name brand in the computer industry. As you will know, Asus offers products ranging from laptops, fully built desktops to all levels of PC components such as graphics cards, motherboards, networking, and TV tuners. They have global coverage that ensures that their products can be found just about anywhere... except the CES convention floor. For all of the products that ASUSTeK manufactures and has their name on, I was expecting a huge booth set up at this year's CES. However, as I found out, they had instead opted to rent out some convention space in one of the casino's on the strip and all their new and upcoming products were showcased in an invite-only party.
On the convention floor they had purchased one of the tiny 9' by 9' booths and had a few of their award winning products on display under glass enclosures. The two motherboards they were showcasing were the X79 based Rampage IV Extreme and the P9X79 Pro. These two boards had received the Design and Engineering Showcase Awards for CES 2012 and were proudly displayed.
The same award was also given to their NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580x2 based card, the MARS II. This beast of a graphics card is a three-slot graphics solution and has two 120 mm fans built-in to keep it cool while driving up to four monitors and delivering a maximum 5120x3200 desktop resolution.
Asus was also showcasing one of their ultra-portable EEE laptops, as well as a new OLED screen that they had developed that utilized the super tough and durable Gorilla glass developed by Corning Ceramics.
Ice Dragon Cooling
There was a little booth set up next to the ASUS booth in a cubicle around the same size. A company calling itself Ice Dragon was demonstrating a new kind of cooling fluid that dramatically increased the thermal exchange of your water cooling set up by almost 20% over standard water. This increase in efficiency was developed by two doctoral students from the University of South Carolina's Mechanical Engineering department, where they devised a specific type of nano-particle that would increase the thermal transfer coefficient of normal de-ionized water.
After extensive testing and proving their technology to the US Air Force who ended up as one of their financial backers for the research, these two students got together and formed their own company to sell this new nano-fluid. In the pictures above, the setup on the left is a mock demonstration of a cooling loop to show that even with the nano-particles added, there is no loss in transparency or coloration of the liquid, thus it can be added to any existing system and not destroy the color coordination that you currently have set up. Unfortunately I was not able to get both items in the same picture, but the custom PC case shown in the right picture is operating at 89.2 degrees Fahrenheit measured from the Core i7 processor that is buried in somewhere in that big blue dragon. It will be interesting to see how this company develops and matures over the coming year. These individuals manning their own booth and both were extremely excited about showcasing their product. This will be one of the companies to keep an eye on as they could revolutionize the cooling market with this technology.
Intel Corporation is a name that hardly needs any introduction to anyone into computers. Intel is one of the biggest names in computing and they have a history longer than most any other computer component manufacturer out there in the market.
Surprisingly, at this year's CES their focus was exclusively on mobile computing with the Ultrabook and laptop product lines through a wide array of third party manufacturers such as Lenovo, Asus, Razer, IBM, HP and a variety of others. I guess Intel has seen the trend that lies ahead with the prevalence of mobile computing coming into the spotlight, and they are doing all they can to showcase their technologies that power these devices.
Intel was also showcasing the graphic processing horsepower of their integrated Intel HD graphics chipset by offering to the public the opportunity to play Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 on laptops that were running their integrated graphic solutions. These games ran and looked great on these platforms and this demonstration made me start to wonder if Intel was going to try and make a serious bid at the enthusiast sector of the gaming market. Unfortunately the lighting in Intel's booth was really really blue and it played Hobb with my camera settings.
Intel also had a display set up featuring Intel's new Anti-Theft Technology. Using an Ultrabook containing this hardware means that if your device gets stolen, you can lock it down from anywhere so that the thieves cannot physically use it to, say, nab your personal information. Additionally, these Ultrabooks feature Intel's Identity Protection Technology which helps guard against identity theft online by making sure your favorite web sites know that it is actually you logging in or visiting them. This feature is interesting, but I will admit that it evokes Big-Brother fears in my head. This will bear watching. closely.
Giada Technologies made a name for themselves back in 2008 and 2009 with their nettop series of mini-computers. These machines were stylish and completely enclosed so they would fit nearly anywhere. Since then, the nettop form factor has grown in popularity and demand. At CES 2012, Giada was not only featuring the products that put their name on the map, but were also showcasing an entire line-up of motherboards and graphics cards that they are releasing in the coming year.
Giada has also made an effort to break into the graphic card market with their own branded offerings of NVIDIA based silicon featuring custom heatsinks. There were no actively working models on the show floor so I unfortunately have no idea what their cooling performance was. Hopefully some of these will turn up on our desk soon so that comparison reviews can be published. Perhaps they will be the next big thing in third-party graphics card providers.
I hope that you enjoyed my coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show this year and I know that all of us are waiting for these awesome products to hit store shelves. As we wrap up our coverage for this event, I would like to share a few of the random photos from the show floor that didn't really fit into any category.
And now for some smoking hot Booth Babes!
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