10 quirky, useful new products you’ll soon wish you owned

Gadget Show Samsung
Attendees watch a presentation at the Samsung booth at the International CES, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2015, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Photograph by Jae C. Hong — AP

There’s a lot of cool stuff at CES.

Mind you, there’s a lot of garbage, too – but the scales generally tend to tip toward cool. That can make it hard to narrow down a list of the most interesting and intriguing products at the show. For example, do you only focus on items with imminent release dates? If one TV is slightly better than the other, do you ignore the runner up?

In the end, any list of this sort is subjective, so we went with the products that ultimately left us the most excited – for any reason.

1. Sling TV

Roger Lynch, CEO of Sling TV, announces the new Sling Television streaming service by Dish during the Dish news conference at the International Consumer Electronics show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada January 5, 2015.

Dish Network has always been ahead of the curve as it figures out what consumers want – a talent that has also gotten it in trouble with some of its broadcast partners. Sling TV – its streaming service for cord cutters -- could be a breakthrough product, though. It’s priced right – at $20 per month, significantly less than a cable (or Dish) subscription. And it has a wide variety of channels people actually watch (including ESPN, CNN and Food Network). It’s the sort of service many expected from Apple a while ago, which might be the highest compliment possible.

2. Mercedes-Benz F 015 electric self-driving car

Attendees sit in the self-driving Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept car at the Mercedes-Benz booth at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas.

This concept car is a long way from reality, but we can’t wait to take a ride. It’s a self-driving vehicle that lets passengers face each other, thanks to four rotating chairs. The windows can double as display screens. It’s so luxurious it even comes with hardwood floors.

3. Gogoro Smart Scooter

Electric vehicles are great. Waiting for them to charge? Less great. Founded by former HTC employees, Gogoro is a startup making a cloud-connected electronic scooter. When the charge runs out, though, owners will be able to quickly (6 seconds is the goal) and easily swap out the batteries at kiosks around the city – and the scooter will tell you how to find one. It’s a lofty ambition, but the team has enough successes under its belt that it’s worth watching.

4. Samsung SUHD

No matter where you stand on whether curved TVs are better than flat ones, there’s no denying that the image quality of Samsung’s (SSNLF) new flagship set is jaw dropping. The company claims SUHDs are 2.5 times brighter than conventional TVs – and have 64 times the color expression, whatever that means. All we know is that it would look perfect in our living room – though we suspect the sticker shock on these as-yet unpriced sets will be significant.

5. LG Twin Wash

LG Electronic's David VanderWall introduces the LG front loading washing machine with the new Twin Load System allowing the consumer to do two separate washing loads at the same time, at the LG press conference at 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Nevada January 5, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Washing clothes is never fun – but what if you could get the job done twice as fast. As the name implies, the Twin Wash is basically a washing machine within a washing machine. The top one can handle a full-sized load, while the lower can handle a smaller load of delicates or other items that require separate wash settings. Now, if only they could come up with a dryer that folded the clothes.


The 2015 LG Electronics Inc. OLED television is released during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. This year's CES will be packed with a wide array of gadgets such as drones, connected cars, a range of smart home technology designed to make everyday life more convenient and quantum dot televisions, which promise better color and lower electricity use in giant screens. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Yes, we just listed Samsung’s flagship TV, but the race between the SUHD and LG’s 4K OLED was so close that both are worthy of mention. Images on OLED sets are incredibly sharp and offer black levels that are vastly better than typical LED sets – even high end ones. The addition of ultra-crisp 4K/UHD content only makes those images better.

7. Energous WattUp

Wireless routers are a dime a dozen. What makes this one stand out is it also wirelessly charges your devices. Using Bluetooth, RF and its own technology, the WattUp can charge devices without wires within a 15-foot range. Better still, the router prioritizes devices that are low on battery power. The only hiccup is that the device itself must integrate WattUp’s technology, so today’s phones and tablets won’t be able to take advantage of the system – but Energous is already talking with manufacturers about future products.

8. Oculus Rift

Tristan de Viaris uses an Oculus virtual reality headset in the Nu Reality Desert Home at the Nikon booth at the International CES, on January 8, 2015, in Las Vegas.

While Oculus has shown off the Rift at CES a few times, each iteration gets better and better. The Crescent Bay demo on display this year is roughly on par with what we can expect when the consumer version of the Rift finally ships, say officials. And it’s a terrific ride, with newly incorporated surround sound and visual effects that fool your brain into thinking you really are part of the animated action around you.

9. Samsung Portable SSD

Tim Baxter, President of Samsung Electronics America, presents the portable SSD T1, an external 1.8" SSD with up-to-date flash memory technology, during a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, USA, 05 January 2015. The fair officially runs from 06 until 09 January 2015. Photo by: Britta Pedersen/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

SSDs are the fastest hard drives around, but they’ve so far been confined to the inside of a PC. Samsung’s setting them free, letting people store up to 1 TB of information on the device and take it anywhere. The speed of SSD and the included USB 3.0 connection will offer immediate access to programs and more – rather than the slower transfers you’re used to from portable hard drives. As small and light as a credit card, it’s perfect for business travelers.

10. Quell

For people with fibromyalgia or other chronic pain conditions, any form of relief is welcome. Quell is a drug-free, wearable device that might offer that by stimulating nerves below the knee, which trick the brain into releasing chemicals that relieve that pain. It’s a consumer version of an existing prescription device (by the same company) – and it’s FDA cleared to be worn at night. Due later this year, it hopes to help people suffering from these conditions to turn down the volume on their pain.

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