CES 2010: Picks and Pans

From 3D home-theater gear to tablets, tablets, everywhere, here's what we loved and hated at this year's show.

TV, Meet PC

Boxee Gets Boxed--and Better: D-Link is the first vendor to come out with a dedicated piece of hardware for the lauded Boxee home media management software. The box is oddly shaped, but it won't take up much space when it sits next to a TV. It streams Internet video and connects wirelessly to your computer, so it can play back media files, such as music, photos, and video, on your TV. You get Boxee's cool user interface, as well as a long list of supported file formats; you can play virtually any kind of video on it. The Boxee Box will be available for $199 in the second quarter of this year. --Mark Sullivan

Cutting the Cord Gets Easier Each CES: Intel's Wireless Display is exactly what it sounds like--a laptop equipped with the technology to connect to your TV at the push of a button, giving you much more screen real estate without the need to futz with wires. But there's no magic here, since the laptop is actually streaming to an adapter connected to your TV. One caveat: Streaming is unprotected, so it doesn't yet support protected content such as Blu-rays and DVDs. Dell, Sony, and Toshiba will be releasing laptops featuring the technology on January 17. --Nate Ralph

Cue the Jaws Soundtrack: Imation's yet-unnamed Wireless USB shark fin plugs into your LCD television via HDMI, grabbing audio and video from your computer at 15MB per second. Just plug in the included USB dongle, and you'll be flying with 720p video from up to 30 feet away. The price will be less than $199 in March. I like it, but I'd like it a lot more if TV makers would bundle or integrate it. --Jared Newman

A Media Streamer in Zen Clothing: It's called the Pebble and it looks like a polished rock, but its heritage is pure geek. D-Link's newest media streamer lets you play video, still photos, and music from your home network or connected devices--and it can even show feeds from a networked security camera. It's due out by midyear, with a suggested retail price of $120. --Yardena Arar

A Set-top Box That Pops: Syabas, makers of the Popcorn Hour network video player, recently unveiled the Popbox. This new home media player features 20 media partners, including Blip.TV (for video content), Twitter (for social viewing), and Clicker (for locating premium video from all over the Internet). Lots of these network video players are showing up now, but Popbox seems to have perfected the interface: It's nice to look at, intuitive, and easily searchable, which is more than I can say for some other entrants in this market. Popbox is expected to be available in March for $129. --Mark Sullivan

Moxi Deserves a Better Mate: Moxi's newly unveiled Moxi Mate is a small HD home media player that can work alone or in concert with the larger Moxi HD DVR. The Moxi Mate can connect directly to the Internet (via ethernet) and access Web video from a number of providers (including Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube) through the PlayOn software that's baked into the device. For what it is, the Moxi Mate seems a bit on the pricey side at $299--especially since the user interface isn't much to write home about, and the device has no video storage space. Also, the fact that the device requires a wired connection to connect with the Internet or to the HD DVR seems to be somewhat backward. --Mark Sullivan

Big-Screen Skype: LG and Panasonic both announced Skype support for their connected HDTVs (equipped with Webcam accessories). We can look forward to video chat with our loved ones in big-screen 1080p, which could mean the end of calling in underwear and PJs. --Yardena Arar

Potent Portables

Putting the Lap Back in Laptops: Logitech's Speaker Lapdesk N700 solves two common notebook problems--overheating and crappy audio. Just set a notebook on this heat-dissipating pad and connect the two via USB to power a fan that blows cool air through the pad's ventilated surface; the same cable also channels audio output to the N700's built-in speakers. It's due next month, priced at $80. --Yardena Arar

A Mighty Mini: The business-oriented HP Mini 5102 builds on the company's netbook lineup by adding a capacitive-multitouch display that makes flipping though documents or managing images more intuitive on such a small PC. It comes in AMD and Intel versions starting at $399, and offers options for 3G and WiMax connectivity as well. --Robert Strohmeyer

Double Vision: Multitouch displays emerged on all sorts of devices at CES this year, but MSI raised the bar by putting multiple multitouch screens on one netbook. MSI's dual-display Windows 7-based netbook prototype isn't yet in production, and no possible release dates or prices have been announced. But with 7-inch and 10-inch versions letting you drag, swipe, and tap across two screens at once, these keyboardless folding tablets are a killer combination of compact portability and large-screen usability. --Robert Strohmeyer

(For a slideshow summary of these Picks and Pans, see "The Best of CES 2010" and "The Biggest Bummers of CES 2010.")

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