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Weird and cool gadgets on show at CES 2009

Mobile TV goggles anyone?

A number of cool and weird items will be on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) next month (January 8-11, 2009) in Las Vegas, including a money-saving surge protector and a pair of goggles that double as a mobile TV.

Also on display: Silicon Mountain's Allio high-definition LCD TV, which doubles up as an all-in-one PC, and Meade's ETX-LS, a smart telescope that takes novice star-gazers on an audio-visual tour of the night sky.

Here's a snapshot of some of the cool gadgets and electronics that you'll be able to check out on the CES show floor.

Save money on power
Finding a way to save on energy bills? Monster Cable is showing the GreenPower MDP 900 surge protector, which automatically cuts off energy supply to electronics like PCs and peripherals when they're not in use. Users can keep devices plugged into the power, but not worry about wasting kilowatts whenever they go into sleep mode.

The surge protector is particularly effective for PCs. If a PC is shut off or goes to sleep, the surge protectors cuts power supply to connected PC peripherals like printers and monitors. When a PC is switched on, the power supply to peripherals is activated. The power strip isn't visually pretty, but it can pay for itself if you use a lot of consumer electronics.

Depending on the connected equipment, using the GreenPower MDP 900 can return as much as $100 to $130 annually, a Monster Cable spokesperson said. That's pretty close to its $129.95 pricetag.

Mobile TV goggles
If your cell phone doesn't play TV, why not try a pair of goggles? Siano Mobile Silicon and Hongshi have fancied a pair of goggles that can receive live TV signals, enabling users to watch TV on the go. The goggles can display TV images on a screen, and TV broadcasts are processed by a tiny box that connects to the goggles through wires. Headphones are attached to the side of the goggles. Users simply have to slip on the goggles and choose the TV channel they want to watch. No cellular networks or cables are required, the company said.

Hongshi Siano TV goggles

The goggles, made by Hongshi, uses Siano chips to receive and process television signals. They currently support only the CMMB (China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting) broadcast standard used in China, but may work with other broadcasting technologies in the future, a Siano spokeswoman said.

The smart telescope
If you can't get the Hubble telescope, try gazing at stars with Meade's ETX-LS smart telescope, which will be shown at CES. The telescope simplifies deep space exploration and takes novice users on an audio-visual tour of the night sky by automatically mapping out objects. This eliminates the complexities of traditional telescopes, which can't identify stars or break down constellations.

The telescope has a built-in audio and video encyclopedia, which provides the data for the tour. The device has a built-in speaker and video-out jack for the tour, and a built-in camera can take pictures of the sky. The ETX-LS creates a map by measuring light output of objects like stars.

The company was not available for comment, but Oceanside Photo and Telescope lists the device for $1,299.

TV and PC unite
One device I look forward to seeing at CES is Silicon Mountain's Allio high-definition LCD TV that is also an all-in-one PC. The device is unique because it brings all forms of entertainment - music, video and images - from multiple sources into one box. That could be powerful for users looking to use the TV and Internet at the same time.

For example, split-screen capabilities on the TV could allow me to watch a baseball game in one screen, while chatting with Internet friends about the game in the other screen. Or I could watch a History Channel program in one screen and reference information related to the program from the Internet in the other. The device also allows Internet video to be played on the TV.

It is possible to watch TV and use a computer at the same time, but this hybrid device reduces the number of boxes and enables quicker access to information. Allio includes a digital video recorder and a Blu-ray player.

The TV comes in sizes of 32-inches to 42-inches with different PC configurations. It is priced between $1,599 and $2,799. For $1,599, a TV comes with a 32-inch screen, an Intel Pentium dual-core processor running at 2.5GHz, 250GB of storage, 2GB of RAM and Vista Home Premium OS.

Energizer keeps on going
Energizer plans to go beyond batteries at CES, showing technologies to charge devices wirelessly and through solar power. The company has lamps that can be wirelessly charged via a console, removing the troubles of wires around a home. It is also showing off the Energizer Rechargeable Solar Charger, a portable solar-powered recharger that powers batteries via sunlight.

Fuji's super green battery
Here's a new spin on batteries: green and "landfill safe" batteries. Fuji is showing off Enviromax, green batteries that the company claims are environmentally safe. Made at an environmentally friendly plant, the batteries do not include hazardous chemicals like lead, cadmium and mercury, and they offer a good shelf life, according to the company. So if you are environmentally conscious, this battery is for you.

The batteries come in AA and AAA sizes, and will become available in some portions of the US. Pricing information was not immediately available.

PC Advisor reporters will be covering every inch of the CES 2009 show floor, so keep coming back for the latest gadget and tech news.


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