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Glance Into the Crystal Ball of CES: Our Top Picks for the Best Gadgets of 2011

Your fancy iPod case, your Palm Pre, even your fantastic GPS-enabled directional unit: it all originated here. This is the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where every tech company worth its salt comes to show off its wares, and where tech writers, for the most part, question the validity of their jobs. In the past, we at Switched have been pretty right on: we still think 3-D TV is a fad, tablets are here to stay, and those rechargeable, reheatable gloves are simply ridiculous. So, even though we are a mere day into the USB-fueled, jargon-laden and hype-infested CESpool of the show, we've come to find some things we are actually pretty thrilled about. Our picks are innovative and interesting products that we are proud to stand by -- and, dare we say it, the types of things you'll be craving to find under your Christmas tree at the end of 2011. (If you even want to think about next year's holiday in January, but alas... )



TDK Life on Record Turntable

Exquisitely simple and sleek, and meant for a vinyl aficionado (not a turntablist), TDK's Life on Record line shows audiophiles that the classic sound company is neither down nor out. We practically froze when we saw the touch-enabled belt-drive table, an incredibly sleek and simplistic piece of design gold. Though the internal RPM monitoring system is lovely, the price ($299 for the turntable, $399 for the USB turntable) sent chills down our vinyl-loving spines.


Samsung Notebook 9 Series

When Samsung debuted this, our hearts started immediately palpitating over the absurdly thin, gorgeously designed 'Duralumin' body. Duralumin, you say? Yes, it's flexible, light (under three pounds) and is set to give the MacBook Air a proper whooping. Oh, and for being nearly eating-disorder skinny, it's fully loaded.


iRobot Scooba 230

First, we squealed at its teensy-weensy cuteness. Then we saw that having a smart, round and tiny robotic body made it a rather sensible choice for mopping up flat, tile and hardwood floors. The mini-Scooba never faltered and it cleaned relentlessly, not even pausing when it hit the edge of its tiny test space.


Casio Tryx

Point-and-shoot cameras, at this point, are a dime a dozen. Oh, a bajillion megapixels? Wi-Fi connectivity? Sounds lovely, but we still want them to take frozen, effortless tripod-style pics. The Tryx's folding and hanging body is not just convenient, but also proves that Casio is unafraid to think outside of the rectangle... er, box.


Samsung D8000

We don't want to boost anyone's body dysmorphia, but Samsung's line of D8000 TVs prove that thin is beautiful. (At least for displays -- not people.) Anyone care for a 0.2-inch bezel? Yes, please.


Uno III

We give new forms of transport a lot of heat because, well, most of them look like a pile of suck. The Uno III has challenged our snootiness, though, with its high-design Segway-to-scooter transformation.


Parrot DIA Digital Photo Frame

Parrot never does design nerds wrong, and its new digital photo frame -- that's right, a photo frame -- is one of the sexiest home accessories we've seen so far. The lightbox-styled display gives a translucent look to your photos, while the hollow design allows for shadow play.


Sifteo Modular Gaming Blocks

We're not entirely sure what to make of Sifteo's modular gaming blocks, but that's only because we haven't been given several hours to twist, turn and tumble the little displays like our inner 6-year-olds desire. Tiny cubes that communicate as you game? Sign us up.


Parrot Asteroid

Parrot's new car-based Asteroid media console runs Android -- just like everything cool these days -- while playing music and giving you location services, like traffic info and local maps. Pair it with a swank Bluetooth headset to answer calls hands-free, and you'll be the sleekest driver on the asphalt.


Motorola Xoom

Motorola has worked some of its Droid magic on the Xoom. The Honeycomb-based tablet is packing some serious hardware in a rather handsome package. In addition to its speedy dual-core processor and HD screen, later this year it'll get an upgrade for Verizon's speedy LTE network. The PR rep almost had to call security to get it back after we got our hands on it.


Droid Bionic

The Bionic is the latest jumbo-screen Droid phone from Motorola. But the Bionic is rounder and friendlier than its predecessor, the Droid X. (Whether or not that's a good thing is a matter of taste.) But the Bionic bumps up the resolution to a stunning 960x540, packs a powerful dual-core processor, and will hum along on Verizon's LTE network. Suddenly, our iPhone 4s and Galaxy Ss look a little long in the tooth.


Galaxy Tab Wi-Fi

Samsung had been promising a Wi-Fi version of the Galaxy Tab for a while, and used CES as an opportunity to promise us it would be arriving soon. Is the Galaxy Tab new? No, but it's still a damn solid tablet, and, with a forthcoming cheaper version that doesn't require signing your soul over to a cellular provider, it just got that much better.


Google Honeycomb

Information on Google's newest mobile operating system has been scarce for months, so we were blown away to see a detailed demo video and the OS actually running on tablets. What's most notable is the fact that Android has been exclusively redesigned for tablets, with iPad-esque dual-pane apps and a completely new look and feel.


Withings Blood Pressure Monitor

When you spend as much time on the Internet as we do, it's wise to check the ol' heart every few days to make sure it's still chugging along. Granted, the Withings Blood Pressure Monitor won't tell you if you're in the Matrix, but it will let you measure and track your blood pressure via any iOS device.


Motorola Atrix 4G

AT&T's powerful Motorola Atrix 4G would've been unthinkable a year ago. The phone packs a dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, and the display pumps out Moto's new, higher resolution qHD (960x540 pixels). In other words, this is one of the most powerful phones on the market, and it's got a crisp, beautifully vibrant display.


Fling Joystick

While 'Angry Birds,' 'Solipskier' and countless other games are easy to precisely control on an iPad, many more require the use of clunky virtual controls that are a far cry from your well-loved Xbox controller. Ten One Design's solution, The Fling, gives you that old-school gaming feel with the aid of suction cups and joysticks.



Tags: Atrix4g, BloodPressureMonitor, casio, CasioTryx, ces 2011, Ces2011, DigitalPhotoFrame, droid, droid bionic, DroidBionic, fling, GalaxyTabWifi, google, honeycomb, HoneycombTablet, irobot, motorola, parrot, ParrotAsteroid, samsung, SamsungD8000, SamsungNotebook9, Scooba230, sifteo, tdk, TDKLifeOnRecord, top, UnoIII, withings, xoom

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