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Last Gadget Standing: Where trade show meets 'Survivor'

CES showdown puts innovative products in the limelight

There were a lot of things to see at the International Consumer Electronics Show this year. Tablets and mobile devices tended to be quite numerous, but there seems to have been at least one of everything. Heck, Ford even unveiled the first electric automobile ever to be shown at CES — the Ford Focus Electric. It truly has become the show with everything.

But one of my longtime favorite events at CES has been the Last Gadget Standing. Essentially, the show accepts nominations for the product most likely to change the face of technology. This year, it received 108 submissions and narrowed it down to 10 finalists.

The companies that own the finalists then have about five minutes each to present their products. The lighting and sound for some of the presentations rivaled that of a rock concert or Broadway show. One of them even included — I kid you not — a lightsaber duel (thank you, oh so much, Motorola Droid). But some just came out and showed their product, and in some cases, they ended up being more impressive.


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The time limit was strictly enforced. When it was up, show officials flashed the lights and played “Hit the Road, Jack.” Better than an actual hook, I suppose.

The products ranged pretty far afield. No electric cars, although there was a robotic vacuum cleaner (the Neato) for the first time in five years. But the majority had to do with mobile computing, such as the Sony Dash Personal Internet Viewer, the Acer Aspire 5738D (a 3-D netbook) and the Que ProReader from Plastic Logic. It seems the trend now is to make larger and more specialized devices for different purposes, as opposed to the drive to cram everything into one phone-sized device, as had been the norm.

After the presentations, the voting occurred. The show had online voting again this year for those not able to attend, but people in the room got to vote with their applause. Every year, a sound meter tracks the noise the audience makes for each product.

The online winner was Microvision’s SHOWWX Laser Pico Projector, which is pocket-sized LED projector. The winner by means of applause (although in my opinion, it was very close) was ruled to be the Boxee Box, a plug-and-play Internet connection device by D-Link. Because it had a clip from “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” one of my favorite Adult Swim shows, I guess I will agree, although they were all pretty awesome products and make me hopeful about technology in the coming year.

If you didn’t get a chance to visit the show this year, you can watch this event online.

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