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Best Gadgets From The Consumer Electronics Show 2017

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A Bed That Adjusts as You Sleep…the Best TV Ever…and Other Great New Gadgets

It’s a place where self-driving cars already fill parking lots…drones choke the skies…and virtual reality surrounds you. It’s the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual Las Vegas event where companies display thousands of their latest gadgets. Many of these gadgets won’t reach the market for years, such as the Honda motorcycle that won’t tip over at low speeds…or they are of questionable use, such as shoes that vacuum your floor as you walk and a robot that does nothing but clean your barbecue grill. But some actually are worth buying…and are already available. Among the best…

Health and Fitness

Medical exam you can take anywhere. TytoCare TytoHome is an easy-to-use handheld device that lets you gather key health information about yourself and send it digitally to your doctor. It can send video images of the inside of your ears or throat…let a medical professional listen to your lungs, heart or abdomen as he/she would with a stethoscope…provide a high-resolution look at a skin issue…and more. Take TytoHome on a trip, and if need be, you can consult with your own doctor from the other side of the globe. (Wi-Fi access and an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet are required.) Or use TytoHome from your home to save yourself a trip to your doctor’s office. It could save you money, too, if your insurance plan has a lower co-pay for a telehealth consultation than for an office visit. It currently is available for preorder at $299. Ask your doctors whether they offer telehealth consultations—and ask your insurance provider whether and how well these consultations are covered. TytoCare.com

Fitness tracker/wristwatch that never needs recharging. Matrix PowerWatch does everything you would expect a fitness tracker/wristwatch to do—it counts steps and calories burned…monitors your sleep…and, of course, tells the time. It’s also water-resistant to 50 meters. What makes PowerWatch special is that it is powered by your body heat, so it never needs to be recharged. It shifts to sleep mode to conserve power when you take it off your arm. The company claims that once charged, it will be able to remain in sleep mode for two years and still have enough power to immediately come back on when you put the watch back on. It likely will be available by July for a suggested retail price of $169.99. As of January, it was available on Indiegogo.com for an “early bird” preorder price of $139. MatrixIndustries.com

Bed that adjusts to you as you sleep. Sleep Number 360 Smart Bed does not just become softer or firmer at the touch of a button, like other Sleep Number models. It monitors your movements as you sleep and adjusts for you. Roll from your back to your side, and it might become a bit softer, for example—a soft mattress is easier on a side-sleeper’s shoulder and hip—while leaving your partner’s side alone. If you start snoring, it will tilt your side of the bed up slightly, which often stops snoring. If you get up to use the bathroom during the night, it will turn on a night-light for you. Sleep Number 360 even has a foot-warming feature. (Any of these features can be turned off when you don’t want them.) It is expected to reach the market by the end of 2017. Pricing likely will be in the neighborhood of $5,000 for a queen bed. SleepNumber.com/360

Audio/Video

Best television picture yet. LG W7 is a leap forward in picture quality—so bright, natural and sharp that you will notice a major difference if you set it side-by-side with any other HDTV, even another HDTV that features OLED ­(organic light-emitting diode) 4K HDR technology as the W7 does. The TV comes with a high-quality sound bar that connects to the screen with a single wire. It should reach stores soon, but at a steep price—$7,999.99 for the 65-inch model. (A 75-inch model will be offered later in the year.) Fortunately, cutting-edge TV prices tend to fall fast, so within three years it might be possible to buy a new W7 or an equal-quality TV for as little as $1,000. LG.com

Sound bar that sounds like a surround-sound system. LG SJ9 is a relatively compact sound bar—4 feet long, 2.3 inches high and 5.7 inches deep—that sounds remarkably similar to a pricey multicomponent surround-sound system. A pair of upward-pointing speakers inside the SJ9 bounce sound off the ceiling, tricking the ears into thinking that the sound is coming from all around. It’s expected to reach the market in late spring. Pricing has not yet been announced but likely will be in the $300-to-$400 range. LG.com

Smartphone that can record and play virtual reality and augmented reality. Asus ZenFone AR is an Android phone that supports Google’s Daydream VR (virtual reality) and Tango AR (augmented reality) platforms. Virtual reality lets you immerse yourself in what feels like the three-dimensional world—either a recorded image from the real world or a virtual-reality game—when the ­ZenFone AR is put in Google’s $49 Daydream View headset. Augmented reality lets you add three-dimensional objects to these images—if you spot a piece of furniture you like in a showroom, for example, you could see what it would look like in your own living room. The ZenFone AR incorporates a sophisticated three-camera system, a fast processor, a big 5.7-inch display, a massive 8GB of RAM (which helps speed) and an “advanced vapor cooling system” to keep all that tech from overheating. It’s expected to be available by midyear. Pricing is not yet available. Asus.com

Major Appliances

Washer/dryer that’s really two washers/dryers in one. Samsung FlexWash and FlexDry (sold separately) include a large-capacity, front-load washer and dryer…with compact washer and dryer compartments built in on the top of each for handling smaller loads. The two compartments can be used simultaneously on separate settings, so you could fill the main wash compartment with colors, for example, while washing a small load of whites in hot water at the same time. Pricing and availability have not been announced. Samsung.com

Just for Fun

Pocket-size music studio—no music training required. Roli Blocks are visually appealing, pocket-size “lightpad” blocks that translate finger taps and swipes into music when paired with the Roli Noise app. (The app is free but currently available only for iOS.) It can mimic more than 100 different instruments—everything from piano to pan flute. The sound is produced by your iOS device—an iPhone 6 or newer or an iPad Air or newer—or you can use headphones or speakers connected to your iOS device with an auxiliary ­cable. Unlike most digital music makers, Roli Blocks use lights to guide users to notes that fit the musical scale they’ve selected, making it possible to create music that sounds like music even if you don’t know a fermata from fortissimo. Roli Blocks already are available for $179.95 apiece. Combining multiple Roli Blocks will increase your musical options, but you can start with just one. Roli.com

Submarine drone. PowerVision ­PowerRay is this year’s stand-out drone—while most drones fly through the skies, this one swims through the seas. The PowerRay is a 7.7-pound submarine that can reach depths of 30 meters in either fresh or salt water. It’s equipped with a 4K video camera that streams live images to your iOS or Android phone. Pair PowerRay with ­PowerVision’s VR Goggle, and you can steer the sub by turning your head. You can pilot PowerRay just for fun—or for fishermen, use an optional sonar fish finder, use lights to lure fish closer and even release bait precisely where you want it. It can operate for around four hours on a charge. PowerRay will be available for preorder beginning February 27. Pricing was not announced as of mid-January, but reports suggest that it could be in the neighborhood of $2,000 to $3,000. PowerVision.me

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Source: Gary Kaye, founder and chief content officer of Tech50+, a website that covers consumer electronics–related topics. Based in Oxford, Connecticut, he has reported on technology for more than 30 years at various TV networks and other organizations. Tech50Plus.com Date: March 1, 2017 Publication: Bottom Line Personal