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 MULTIFORMAT FEATURE

CES 2012: The 10 best gadgets, tablets, phones, and gear

What happens in Vegas...
Product: CES 2012 | Format: Android, iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, Windows 8
 
CES 2012 Multiformat, thumbnail 1
This year's CES - that glitzy annual expo in Las Vegas for all things electronic - is finally wrapping up.

Gadget makers have taken to the show floor to showcase a TV that runs on Android, a tablet that can survive a dunk in the bath, a skateboard powered by Kinect, and more Ultrabooks than you could squeeze into an aeroplane hangar.

And that's a lot of Ultrabooks. Because they're very thin.

But, for those of us obsessed with mobile gaming, let's ignore the super-thin laptops and super-thin TVs and super-thin booth babes to get to the real gems: Android tablets, iPhone controllers, and Windows Phone 7 handsets.

Join us, then, as we round up the best of CES 2012 in one handy list. Peruse these ten upcoming gadgets and you'll know everything there is to know about this year's handheld gaming gear.

iCade Mobile, Core, and Jr.

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Did you know that the iCade Arcade Cabinet for iPad started off as an April Fool's Day gag? Like Tauntaun sleeping bags and canned unicorn meat, it was a practical joke that was so popular nerd chic shop ThinkGeek made it into a real product. Now, the iCade is such a huge seller that it's inspired a triplet of spin-offs.

The iCade Core is the cut-down version, which retains the joystick and buttons of the original iCade but ditches the bulky cabinet hood (and hopefully some of the price tag). The iCade Jr is a novelty toy-sized edition of the cabinet, fit for the dinky iPhone or iPod touch.

Finally, the iCade Mobile is a snap-on controller for the iPhone. Clip this dock to your smartphone and hook it up over Bluetooth, and your iPhone now has a set of physical buttons. It will cost $80 when it goes on sale later this year, and will work with around 100 games.

Parrot AR.Drone 2.0

ces-2012-parrot

Parrot's maiden iPhone-controlled quadrocopter was launched at CES 2010, so it's only right that its successor also gets shown off at the Las Vegas gadget mecca.

This new UAV has ultrasound sensors so it can see the ground and keep itself flat when in low altitudes. When its up high, though, pressure sensors kick in to keep it stable. The drone should be able to fly upwards of 50 metres, but it depends on the strength of your device's wireless signal.

Speaking of devices, the drone now works on practically every iOS and Android gadget under the sun, including tablets. Developers have had their hands on the API for some time now to make their own games based on the drone.

Toshiba Excite X10
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You may remember our list of iPad rivals from last year. The only interesting thing we could think to say about Toshiba's debut tablet - the Thrive - was that it was big, bulky, and heavy enough to bludgeon an adult man to death. That was its calling card: it was a fat tablet.

Turns out that our teasing was taken to heart. The Excite is now positively anorexic, slimming down to a ghostly 0.3-inch thick frame. And at half a kilogram, it's both thinner and lighter than the iPad 2.

Despite the slight frame, it's still a competent machine. Under those 10 inches of Gorilla Glass, you'll find a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and a gig of RAM. The magnesium alloy back, meanwhile, is dotted with ports, slots, and buttons: micro-SD, micro-USB, micro-HDMI, and physical volume buttons.

This particular Android tablet, which will ship with Ice Cream Sandwich, will be out early this year and cost $499.

Lenovo IdeaTab K2

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Chinese manufacturer Lenovo rocked up to the convention centre with a fierce look of determination in its eyes and about fifteen different laptops under its arm. It showed off TVs running on Android, tablets with snap-on keyboards, and the K2: one of the most powerful tablets around.

This thing rocks a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 chip for running graphically intensive games, and can spit out visuals in full 1080p HD with its 1920x1200 pixel resolution. It's also got impressive cameras - there's an 8-megapixel one on back - and a faintly ridiculous four-speaker surround system. If you want pure power, this is the slate for you.

Sadly, we're left wanting for more details. As it stands, only China has been confirmed as a launch market, and there's no hint of a price or release date. Lenovo hasn't ruled out a worldwide release, so keep your fingers crossed.

Gorilla Glass 2.0

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Gadgets are about to get thinner, lighter, and a whole lot stronger. Gorilla Glass - the super-tough alkali-aluminosilicate that's used in loads of phones (and is widely reportedly but never officially confirmed to be Apple's glass of choice) - is getting an upgrade.

At CES, manufacturer Corning revealed the second generation of Gorilla Glass. It's 20 per cent thinner than before, but has the same scratch resistance and endurance. According to Gizmodo, the new panels can withstand 121 pounds of pressure without cracking.

SteelSeries Ion Wireless Controller

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This year's expo was big on TVs, 3D, apps, tablets, and funky little controllers used to play games on touchscreen phones. The Ion Wireless Controller is one of the latter. Of course.

This cute and compact joypad (from headphone maker SteelSeries, under a licensing partnership with Zeemote Technology Inc.) works with PCs, but also uses Bluetooth to connect to phones and tablets. It can "be easily customised and configured through its own application on the device." App makers will still need to tweak their games to support the pad, though.

It's small (about the size of a deck of cards), and a lithium battery will provide up to 20 hours of wireless use. The controller rocks two mini-analogue sticks, a D-pad, two shoulder buttons, and six face buttons. It's out later this year, but no price has been announced yet.

Razer's Project Fiona
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This came out of left field, didn't it? It's a Windows 8 tablet that's powerful enough to play hardcore PC games, and it's flanked on either side by a pair of joysticks for control.

The tablet's got an Intel i7 Ivy Bridge processor under the hood, which means it will capably handle so-called "proper" games like Assassin's Creed and Minecraft. You can use the force feedback accelerometer, a multi-touch screen, and the unique controls to play, or simply hook up a keyboard and mouse.

Razer wants to get the Fiona out in 2012, and is confidently aiming for a price point of under $1,000 (which is about £645).

Nokia Lumia 900

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Nokia and Microsoft used CES to debut their flagship phone for North America: the sleek and colourful Lumia 900. Sadly, it won't reach British shores any time soon - mostly, because it packs a LTE chip for zippy 4G internet.

At this rate, we won't get anything faster than 3G until the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies careen into each other, in five billion years' time.

The Lumia 900 has a larger screen than the Lumia 800 (up to 4.3 inches from 3.7 inches), but sports the same Windows Phone-standard 480x800 pixel resolution. Other than that, the phones are identical - same 1.4GHz Qualcomm processor, same 512MB of RAM.

Asus EeePad MeMO

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Somehow, the MeMO manages to mix power with affordability. It's got a beefy quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor, sure, but it's only $249 (£160)! It runs the latest version of Android, sure, but it's only $249!

How Asus plans to hit that magic price tag will remain to be seen. The first cost-cutting measure is evident in the screen, which measures a dinky 7 inches. Will there be other compromises, or will it really be a quad-core tablet for almost half the cost of an iPad? We look forward to finding out.

It's out in the first half of 2012, Asus frontman Jerry Shen announced at CES.

Sony Xperia S

ces-2012-xperia

You might notice that there's a word missing from this phone's name. One word that always seems to follow "Sony" when it's announcing a new phone: Ericsson. Yes, this is the first device from the rebranded mobile arm of the business.

Anyhoo, it's a pretty typical Xperia unit, though it does pack some impressive specs. It's got a 4.3-inch screen with a huge 1280x720 resolution, while a massive 12-megapixel camera on the back uses a Sony Exmor R sensor to capture Cybershot-style photos and 1080p video.

It's also got a 1.5GHz dual-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Sounds good, and sounds like you don't need an Ericsson logo to make a hot Android phone.
 

Reviewer photo
Mark Brown 13 January 2012
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