Stop! It's Gadget Time!


We are right at the start of CES, the consumer electronics show, where all the big and small manufacturers of tech toys trot out some of the stuff they are working on in order to get the tech press all excited. Being that this is a tech blog and that I do have a keen fondness for electronic whiz-bangs, I felt I should at least make a mention that the show is going on and point out a few of the cool things that have been unveiled thus far.

First up, my personal favorite non-Apple computer manufacturer: Lenovo. They have been very busy developing a couple of new tablets, a smartphone and, get this, an Android 4.0 Smart TV. How cool is that? It’s a whopper at 55 inches. The Idea Tab S2 10 10-inch tablet is very light and thin at 1.1 pounds and docks with a keyboard, making it look a bit like a MacBook Air.

My favorite camera manufacturer right now, Fuji, has an exciting new addition to its Finepix X- line – the X-Pro1, which apparently is mirrorless, but sports the same cool retro looks as the X-10 and X-100.

And the affordable tablet for kids, targeted at poorer communities around the world, is finally making its tangible debut. The OLPC XO 3.0 tablet will be $100. It’s rugged and can be charged with a hand crank or a solar panel. One minute of cranking gives you ten minutes of run time. I would love that on my iPad! But you won’t be able to buy one: the XO 3.0, like the XO laptops, won’t be sold directly to consumers or parents. OLPC will sell the tablets in bulk to countries who want to ensure their children have computers, and won’t produce units until orders come in.

Along the same green power lines is a solar powered Kindle cover called SolarKindle. Seems an obvious must have for beach reading. And, it even gives you a built in book light!

Many of these products are available now (in other countries) or coming soon, so hopefully the wait won’t be too long. And there is still more CES to go, so who knows what fun stuff is yet to be revealed. I’ll be watching for the shiny.


Google Shared Spaces (Or Ride The Wave, Again)

O.k., it really isn’t Google Wave, but have you checked out Google Shared Spaces yet? Google describes its new Lab’s service as follows:

Google Shared Spaces allows you to easily create a space with a collaborative gadget and a chat box in it. The gadgets are based on the Wave gadgets technology, so there are already more than 50 gadgets across different categories, like games, productivity, and event planning. Anybody can create a new space by going to the gallery and clicking on one of the featured gadgets. Spaces can easily be shared by just pasting the URL into a chat window, an email or a content sharing platform like Google Buzz or Twitter. And if you know a little Javascript, it is easy to get started building your own real-time, collaborative gadgets and create new spaces based on those.

In many ways, Shared Spaces looks like Wave stripped down to a box for chatting and gadgets to decorate it with. Sharing is super simple and the boxes can be used in an almost disposable way – got something to discuss or want to play a quick game with friends? Navigate to Spaces, open a chat box with your chosen gadget and invite friends via URL. Available gadgets include a “yes/no/maybe” gadget, map gadget, draw board gadget, a waffle gadget that facilitates event set-up, shared sudoko game, map cluster, travel with me gadget, colcrop game, listy gadget, browse Amazon gadget, and a Concept Wave mindmapping gadget. Get notified of new gadgets by subscribing to the Shared Spaces feed. You can log into it using your Google account, Twitter or your Yahoo account.

Check out the slide deck on Shared Spaces here. Would love to hear what you think?

Google Shared Spaces