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Rob Enderle’s favorite gadgets of CES 2011

CES is a huge toy show, and the only thing that saves my wallet is the fact that most of this stuff isn’t available yet. And some may not be available in the US. But, without further ado, here is my own personal list of the coolest stuff announced at CES.

Vizio 72” Really Smart TV

This TV caught my eye early on, and when it comes out later in the year, one will certainly have my name on it. Vizio makes a nice quality TV and sells it at an aggressive price, and they announced this whopping 72-inch monster and proceeded to explain that it had Wireless HD, so you could use it as a wireless screen for your PC, a ton of content partners like Netflix, and they were the first to announce OnLive console gaming support. It also has passive 3D, so can use the same inexpensive 3D glasses theaters use, not the $150 monsters that are more common. Cost is a very reasonable $3,500 list, and it will eventually be discounted from this because they sell through Costco. I may no longer have room for a window in my living room, but I’m getting one of these monsters.

AMD Wireless TV

I almost missed this because AMD was making a lot of noise about its new Brazos Fusion laptops. AMD Wireless TV is new software technology that will turn your PC into a low-latency streaming server, so you can broadcast your laptop screen to any TV with a Flash-enabled browser. That opens the door to use it with pretty much every smart TV being announced, including the above line of Vizio products. This means you can take your laptop over to a friend’s house that has one of these TVs and game off his big TV with an AMD laptop, or he could come over and show off on yours. Not having to deal with a video cable could be really cool. Free with a laptop is even cooler.

TARDIS Speakers

Speakal introduced two sets of iPod speakers: One that looked like either the helmet from Top Gear’s Stig (the US version of that show really sucks by the way), and one that looked like the the TARDIS from Dr. Who. I’ve been a huge Dr. Who fan most of my life, and having one of these time traveling police boxes on my desk (not that it isn’t already cluttered enough) would be a great deal of fun. Though, frankly I’m thinking of the helmet instead, because it likely would go with my décor better. Themed speakers are common at CES but I love both these shows and thought these to be the coolest of the bunch.

Dell Inspiron Duo

Actually, the coolest thing Dell actually had was a Hummer outside their hotel with a full military paint treatment and mounting points for gaming systems inside, on the back, and a massive three-screen gaming rig that mounted on the front. I bet if it rained that thing would blow every fuse in Vegas, but it was really cool. Of the PC tablets I liked the Inspiron Duo the best, because of its unique horizontal flipping screen. I also liked that they were carrying the same icon-based interface across their PC and tablet lines. This seemed to be one of the subtle trends of the show, because both Vizio (there they are again) and Samsung were doing similar things with their lines.

HP Photosmart eStation

OK, this was a tablet-printer combination, which I really thought was a cool “in your face Apple” product, given that one of the problems with the iPad, at least at first, was figuring out how to print off the darned thing. It’s kind of like HP saying, “our tablet not only prints, it comes with a friggen printer, so there!” This printer, later in the year, will come with a WebOS (Palm) tablet. Given how scared most vendors seem to be of Apple, it is fun to see a vendor do an in-your-face product line like this. It actually was one of the most interesting and attractively designed products of the show. You can buy this now for around $350, but the tablet is running Android 2.1, not WebOS (I’d wait for WebOS).