First Day of CES Roundup: iPad Speakers, Health Monitors, and Bluetooth Plant Monitors

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CES kicked off yesterday and instead of swamping you all with all the gadgets that are being announced, we’re going to hit you with periodic roundups of things we think are cool, interesting, and maybe a little off the wall. Of course, if there is something we think is particularly awesome, we’ll give it the attention it deserves.

CES is quite a spectacle. I haven’t made it to one yet—it’s on my list as a “someday” thing to do—but every year I’m both impressed with the cool things that are announced and astounded by the completely off the wall items that are showcased. Yesterday I was keeping an eye on what was coming out, I’d call these the early bird launches since today is the big day for most announcements, and there are some pretty interesting items to watch for in the coming months.

Everyone is expecting more iDevice accessories to be announced this week—with Lightning connections this time around—and first thing that caught my eye (and some rave reviews) is a speaker dock for the iPad from Belkin. The Thunderstorm Handheld Home Theater is supposed to give you amazing sound for movies and games. The Verge talks about the device having great sound and charging your device, something the Belkin press release doesn’t mention. The Verge doesn’t get into the sound quality, but 9to5Mac thinks its thin and tinny while Cult of Mac was blown away. The Verge talks about the device as being pretty bulky, something that CoM doesn’t get into either. For my money, I’d almost rather get a nice wireless set of speakers that I can use with more than just one device. This is also premium device coming in at about $200. I’m sure some folks will flock to it, but I think it’s a lot of money just to have good sound on my iPad alone.

simple.b-dis-png.hcd23e2ae6e0b62d7ec3d520d66ab0f60On the health front, Fitbit has a wearable wristband monitor to compete with Jawbone’s Up. Since Fitbit has done really well with the device you clip onto yourself, maybe they will succeed with a wristband device. Lots of challenges there for something you wear all the time though, but Fitbit does make it easier with using Bluetooth to transfer data to your device instead of the headphone port system Jawbone uses. The Fitbit flex will be $100 later this year. On the health tracker front, Withings has its own wearable device (clip on, so not wear all the time) that is small and discreet and offers lots of the same functionality as similar devices. The more of these devices I see, the more I’m tempted to pick one up. Though I have to say right now all they are going to tell me is that I need to get up and walk more (something I already know).

The Pebble watch is supposed to debut at CES, but stealing some early thunder is the COOKOO, which was also a Kickstarter project, that gives the wearer similar on-the-wrist functionality as the Pebble (or what we dream an iWatch might have). If there are two of these devices at CES, I expect we’ll see several more in the coming month—and at lower price tags—to heat up the space.

COOKOO video demo:

You might remember the Stick-n-find that we covered a while ago? Well they more than hit the mark with their Indiegogo goal, so the device will be launching in several colors and with a temperature sensor (odd, but cool). Can’t wait to see that one in stores. I’m sure that we’ll have tons of uses for the device once we get to use them for real.

flowerpowerdeviceFinally in the “wow that’s interesting” category, Parrot (you know the AR quad-copter folks) have come out with a device to help you keep track of your houseplants’ health over Bluetooth. No, I’m not making this up. The device looks like a stick and you put it into the plant’s pot. The sensors measure soil moisture and other things to give you reminders to water your plants and such. While serious overkill for most plants at home, on a large scale (like greenhouses) it could be really useful.

That’s what we’ve seen this thus far. We’ll keep you posted on what other interesting tidbits and gadgets we see today and throughout the week.