Home Tech — Hot New Gadgets

From a bed that monitors snoring to a weather-predicting umbrella, the latest gadgets on display at the 2008 Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas are multi-tasking marvels

 


The Beer Tender

Cool Brew
Beer lovers rejoice. A sleek new tabletop beer dispenser by Krups in conjunction with Heineken, the BeerTender ($400) keeps a specially sized four-liter keg fresh for 30 days, maintaining optimal temperature and tracking how much beer has been consumed. The product will debut at Williams-Sonoma and other specialty outlets this spring; it currently only offers Heineken, but consumers can expect to see sister labels such as Amstel and Amstel Light available in the near future. www.beertenderusa.com>.

Never Too Rich or Too Thin
Hitachi Corp.’s new Ultra Thin 1.5 series televisions boast slimmer than ever inch-and-a-half-thick frames. They will debut in the States this spring in three sizes: 32-inch, 37-inch and 42-inch. The sets are also truly lightweight; the 32-inch model weighs only 24 pounds. www.hitachi.us.

Rain or Shine
Ambient Technology’s smart (and smart-looking!) weather-forecasting umbrella conceals a data radio in its handle that receives a continuous signal from AccuWeather. If rain is predicted during the next 12 hours in the area, the end of the handle glows with blinking blue lights. Ambient was also touting its Weather Watcher at CES. This handy little touch-screen device displays a five-day forecast and can sit on a desktop or mount on the fridge. www.ambientdevices.com.

Caller ID
GE’S new PhotoPhone ($140) can display the image of a caller on a seven-inch LCD screen located on its base station. The screen, which also doubles as a digital picture frame, can be programmed to match a preset image of a caller to an incoming phone number. If there is no photo match, you can set it to automatically cycle through thousands of photos stored on a memory card plugged into its flash card slot while you chat. www.ge.com.

Food For Thought
Whirlpool’s new centralpark connection fridge ($1,999) is a 270-pound, side-by-side beauty with a door-front docking station that lets you alternately snap in a digital picture frame, an MP3 player or even a tablet computer. While some might view the concept of a fridge-front computer as a bit excessive, Whirlpool cites research that 30 percent of home computer users do their heaviest Internet searching and emailing in the kitchen. And several technology companies are already flocking to centralpark with fresh ideas. Brand Motion sells a compatible iPod speaker system ($149) and Data Evolution’s Clio Vu touch screen wireless Internet tablet computer ($799) also snaps into the fridge. www.whirlpool.com.

Down to the WireIf you are overwhelmed with all the wires required to charge your gadgets, WildCharge has a solution. Its WildCharge ($60) is a pad that can charge devices such as cell phones and MP3 players sans wires. Users simply attach a thin adapter ($35) to the back of each device and toss the device onto the pad. Adapters are currently available for Motorola Razr phones and are coming soon for iPod, iPhone and some Blackberry models. www.wildcharge.com.

Hard-Driving Security
As homeowners increasingly store more data on their computers, SentrySafe offers a new level of security against data loss. Its new fire-safe/waterproof hard drives—which come in 80GB and 160GB varieties—are encased in an enclosure that will secure the drive for up to a half-hour in 1,550-degree temperatures, and up to 24 hours submersed in water. www.sentrysafe.com.

Strange Bedfellows
For those who really can’t unwind at the end of the day, Legget & Platt introduces the Starry Night Sleep Technology bed. While it may look like a basic platform bed, this new creation packs wireless Internet connectivity, surround-sound speakers, an iPod docking station, an LCD projector, dual temperature controls and digital video recording capabilities. Should the owner actually be able to fall asleep amid all this technology, hidden diagnostic tools monitor the body’s movements and temperature, and react with functions like the “anti-snore” mode, which elevates the head seven inches to ease breathing patterns. The price tag, depending on desired features, ranges from $20,000 to $50,000. www.starrynightbed.com.


Hitachi’s Ultra Thin 1.5 series


Weather-Forecasting umbrella


PhotoPhone


CentralPark Connection fridge


WildCharge


SentrySafe


Starry Night Sleep Technology Bed