You probably won't buy this stuff, but it's just so damn cool.
Our team comes out to the Consumer Electronics Show every year in search of the things that happen next. We meet with companies eager to show us what they're planning to announce, oftentimes months before the announcement actually happens.
It's a great place to get a feel for what the industry is going to do over the next year, and what trends we should prepare for. It's important stuff for us to do, but represents an impossibly tiny fraction of the sheer volume of things to see and touch at this event.
While we may all have different opinions on what the "best" things are from CES this year, this is a quick look at the things we stumbled upon that were just plain cool.
Game Boy Resurrected
My nephew opened a new Nintendo 3DS for Christmas this year, and it reminded me of opening my first Nintendo Game Boy. Because I did this reminiscing out loud, my kids took the opportunity to make me feel old by not even knowing what a Game Boy was. Fortunately for me, Retrobit not only remembers but is making a new one for me to enjoy.
Super Retro Boy is a color Game Boy that can play Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advanced cartridges for $80. It's the kind of thing that punches you in the nostalgia and is wildly more functional than Nintendo's new NES by virtue of its design. We'll see more of this Super Retro Boy this summer, and I'm pretty sure at least a couple of you will be debating over the Order button.
Astro-Photography for noobs
If you have $500 and a night sky nearby, TinyMOS wants to sell you a camera that will make you look like an expert space photographer the next time you feel the need to brag about something like that. This may seem unnecessary to those who haven't tried to take a photo of the Milky Way from the park down the street, but those who know the struggle will look at this camera and be impressed.
It's relatively inexpensive, incredibly compact, and has the coolest Sky Map software onboard. The software on the camera will guide your hand to the best place to take the photo, and includes presets for capturing different shots of the sky. Tiny1 can turn just about anyone into a decent astro-photographer, and every person thinking about taking a photo of the sky is a person refusing to believe the Earth is flat.
Nine Inked Nails
An event of increasing frequency in my house is a gathering of pre-teens watching fingernail art videos on YouTube, and even I have to admit some of these creations are basically works of art. That having been said, there's a reason you don't see every woman with crazy awesome nails. It's not easy to go from idea to execution, even with tutorial videos. Now, if you could go from idea to sticking your finger in a special printer to execute on your vision, that'd be something different altogether.
The Mobile Nail Printer takes any idea you've whipped up in the included app and paints that design on your nails for you. All you need to do is hold your finger still on the printer, which isn't always as easy as it sounds. You get custom, identical nail designs without accidentally spilling a bottle all over the kitchen table. What could be better?
Game Cave Evolved
Razer has quickly become known for wild prototypes that change shape and become actual products after receiving some feedback. It's one of the reasons they are considered done of the most innovative PC manufacturers out there today, and this CES they came out swinging. Strapping more displays on a laptop doesn't excite me so much as leave me concerned for the poor soul sitting next to the owner of that machine on an airplane, but crazy lighting setups are something altogether different.
Project Ariana immerses you in your game without needing a VR headset, all thanks to smart lighting and projectors. The current demo extends the display onto your walls in a unique way, and uses special lighting to fill the room with accent colors from the game you are playing. It's still pretty far from a real thing, and in its current form won't work everywhere, but a setup like this will guarantee envy from everyone you know and that's worth it no matter the cost.
All the bacon and eggs you have
Our final entry this year is not a product. It's Nick Offerman, who you undoubtedly recognize from existing as the living breathing form of the Overly Manly Man meme more commonly known as Ron Swanson during Parks and Recreation. Nick is at CES this week showing off the latest in greeting card technology thanks to an arrangement with American Greetings, and he did a masterful job delivering quality entertainment in the process.
Anyone at CES fortunate enough to have caught Mr. Offerman delivering one of his presentations left with a smile on their face and possibly some deep concern about why they were at this massive event in the first place. This was far from the only celebrity sighting at CES, but watching that man deliver a dead serious explanation for why his greeting cards were superior was easily one of the coolest parts of CES.