It’s just the first day of the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show and it already feels like I’ve been here a week. After an arduous eight hour trip from New York to Las Vegas, I know one thing is for sure. Business travel goes a lot easier if you’ve got the right tools. Obviously, I’m not alone in that sentiment, because a good majority of the products featured last night at CES: Unveiled, were the accessories one needs when their working remotely.
From gadgets that boost smartphone battery life and gizmos that help you monitor your car’s diagnostics, to devices that turn your smartphone into a satellite communicator, many of the highlights of the CES press unveiling were geared towards assisting those traveling business people, who like to take their show on the road. Here are the products that stood out to me so far. —Marcia Wade Talbert
THE ONSTAR MIRROR BY ONSTAR
For many years, OnStar has led the industry in providing safety, security, and GPS features. But if you didn’t own a GM car, it was unlikely that you could take advantage of the service. Last night, OnStar announced that it will introduce a retail rear view mirror that can be mounted on most U.S. vehicles, both used and new, beginning in Spring 2011.
Currently, the OnStar mirror is certified to work on 99% of the top 20 selling non-GM vehicles from the last 10 years, or approximately 55 million cars and trucks, with more certifications on the way. The mirror will offer the same key features that OnStar has become known for, including automatic crash response, stolen vehicle location assistance, turn-by-turn navigation, and hands-free calling, among others.
It will cost $299, plus installation, which is expected to cost between $75 and $100 at BestBuy and other selected consumer electronics retailers. A range of service plans will be available, starting at $18.95 a month or $199 a year.
POWERPACK XT & BATTERY BOOST BY TECHNOCEL
The best things in life never last long; and battery life is no exception. As usual, my HTC EVO was dead by 4pm. Lucky for me, THOUGH, the guys and gals at Technocel were right on time in offering me the PowerPak XT travel charger with a built in internal lithium ion battery, which provides four and a half additional hours of talk time.
If your phone charges with a USB port it’s really simple to use, but even if you don’t the PowerPak comes with eight different connectors, and can be used with Apple sync cables (not included). The battery will hold a charge for up to one year. This product won a CES Design and Engineering Showcase Honor for 2010.
A sister product, the Battery Boost (not shown), won the same award this year. The Battery Boost, which doubles as a microSD card reader, will charge your handset, Bluetooth headset, mobile hotspot, mp3 player, and other micro USB devices. It provides up to one hour of additional talk time.
iRADAR BY COBRA
The iRadar is a Bluetooth device and app that provides protection from radar and laser guns. While tethered to the iPhone, it warns drivers with audio alerts through the car speaker system and visual alerts on the mobile’s screen about photo enforced traffic lights, infrared and laser guns, and known speed traps or caution areas. The system database, Cobra Aura, is updated constantly to include new red light and speed cameras. In addition to this researched and verified list, iRadar customers can update and maintain their own database.
SPOT CONNECT by SPOT LLC While flying over Nevada on my way to CES, I saw mountains that stretched on for miles. In the midst of those mountains I’d see one lonely car. I started to wonder what I’d do if I was stranded on a road like that without cellular service. Well, Spot Connect, another CES design and engineering showcase honoree, helps make sure situations like that don’t turn dire.
Via a Bluetooth connection, SPOT Connect links smartphones to satellites thereby turning the phones into personal one-way satellite communicators capable of sending messages from remote areas beyond cellular coverage. With it you can send messages containing GPS position to personal contacts, twitter, facebook, or in the case of an emergency, it will send an SOS to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center. The SpotConnect App is compatible with Android 2.0 platform phones or higher.
MAVIA BY MAVIZON TECHNOLOGIES
When plugged into your car’s diagnostic port, this device keeps you connected to your car in more ways than you thought were possible. Mavia lets you monitor your vehicle from your smartphone or laptop and explain what the “check engine light” means, so you will know in plain English what’s wrong with your car and when it needs to be serviced.
Plus, whether you want to know why your employees are racking up so much mileage on the company car or you’ve simply lost the car in the parking lot, Mavia will help you stay aware of your automobile’s location. It will also map locations of your clients based on their social media check-ins. Finally, if you’ve been in an accident, and your airbags deploy, Mavia will alert 9-1-1 and predetermined family or contacts with the vehicle’s GPS location.
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