While CES 2014 doesn't officially kick off until Tuesday, we were able to get a sneak look at some of the latest tech products at the CES Unveiled pre-show event. Here's a few highlights that caught our eye.
Meizu is a Chinese company that has been making Android smartphones for about two years now. Its latest flagship smartphone, the MX3, will be Meizu's first attempt to push outside of its existing markets of China and Eastern Europe. The MX3 has a 5.1-inch 1800 x 1080 resolution display with 415 ppi and utilizes a quad-core 1.6GHz Cortex-A15 processor and a tri-core PowerVR SGX 544 GPU (both the same as Samsung's Galaxy S4). Like the S4, it also has 2GB RAM. The MX3 also boasts an 8MP camera with an f/2.0 aperture lens. Like compatriots Xiaomi, Meizu's main selling point is its affordable price, with the MX3 currently available in Hong Kong for about 3000HKD (S$490).
The MX3 is running a heavily skinned version of Android 4.2 Jellybean that Meizu calls Flyme OS, which looks somewhat like a cross between iOS and Android, with a clean minimalist aesthetic and a flat interface with no app drawer.
CAT B15 Rugged Smartphone
Caterpillar is known more for its tractors and other industrial machinery, but the company has also recently branched out into electronics as well, with the release of the CAT B15 Rugged smartphone, an IP67 rated dust and waterproof Android smartphone. The CAT B15 looks quite similar in design to one of Panasonic's toughpads, and includes rubberized bumpers and a metal frame that is capable of sustaining falls of up to 1.8m. The phone is currently available for US$350. A more affordable feature phone with a physical touchpad is expected to be launched later this year.
TREW Grip Keyboard
One of the more unusual products we spotted at CES Unveiled is the TREW Grip Keyboard, an attempt to bring desktop speed QWERTY typing to smartphones and tablets. The ergonomic keyboard is designed to be held in both hands, with a suction board holding your device in the middle. The rear of the device has two inward curves with full-sized mechanical keys located on the inside. The keys are actually laid out in a QWERTY pattern, but split in half and flipped upside down (thus TREW as opposed to qWERTy).
While it looks to have a steep learning curve, the keyboard is surprisingly easy to get used to, as the keys are located in such a way that you use the same fingers to hit them as you would a regular desktop keyboard. Visual indicators on the top of the device light up to show which key you hit. According to the product manager demoing the product, it takes about an hour of usage to get up to regular onscreen keyboard typing speeds (roughly 15wpm) and with practice, it's possible to get up to typing speeds of 130wpm.
Compared to a regular bluetooth keyboard, the TREW grip's main advantage seems to be its mechanical keys and its carrying handles that lets you walk around and type at the same time, although it is rather large, so it's not like you can just pull it out of your pocket when you need to type up a fast email on the go. It's also rather expensive, with availability scheduled for later this year with an expected price of US$299.
The Tobii EyeX is an eye tracking input device that is currently in development with plans for a consumer launch later this year. It utilizes an eye tracking sensor bar located below your desktop or notebook display to track an invisible reflective pattern on your eyes, which is then used to calculate your eyes' exact position and gaze point. The technology even works with glasses, but still requires another input device such as a trackpad or mouse to execute clicks and scrolls.
Tobii has partnered with Steelseries to further develop the EyeX for use in video games. We tried out the device with World of Warcraft, which honestly, is probably not the best game for it. While the eye tracking was very impressive, with laser-like accurate real time tracking, glancing around the screen caused your in game character to move about as well, which was unwanted most of the time. We could see it working better in an FPS, as looking at your opponents head and then pulling the trigger (or mouse button in this case) would be very satisfying and should be much easier and more accurate than aiming with a mouse.
Allure Energy Eversense Proximity Controlled Thermostat
Eversense is a Wi-Fi Touchscreen Thermostat that can be used to manage your air conditioning or heating unit via an iPhone or Android smartphone app. The device also has a unique Proximity Control setting that will monitor your location (based on your smartphone) and adjust the temperature in your house accordingly to ensure that by the time you reach home, your house will always be at your preset perfect temperature. It can even adjust accordingly for traffic and will turn off when the temperature has been reached to save you energy.
Mad Catz Titanfall Peripherals
While much anticipated upcoming FPS Titanfall may not be due until March this year, Mad Catz has already started producing some pretty awesome looking limited edition peripherals for the game. We spotted this sweet R.A.T. 3 mouse and S.T.R.I.K.E. 3 keyboard set.