Don’t miss our Top 10 gadgets of 2014!
When asked to compile a Top 10 List of gadgets released in 2014, I was a little freaked out. 2014 has been a pretty slow year for gadgets and cool things, so to compile a list of ten things that were not just updates to last year’s hot tech toys just seemed virtually impossible. I had to set up some rules and criteria though, but this merely whittled the list down even further.
Rules and Criteria
- It had to be released within the 2014 calendar year.
- The product had to be readily available to consumers at some point during the year.
- It had to be successful or, at the very least, successful at inspiring ideas.
- The list has to be, above all else, unbiased.
- At the same time, the list has to be true and honest.
With rules and such out of the way, let’s get to it! In no particular order…
- Dell UltraSharp 27 Ultra HD 5K Monitor
This is the world’s first display with Ultra HD 5K resolution (5120 x 2880). Ultra HD 5K is equivalent to four times the resolution of QHD and seven times the resolution of Full HD, offering a revolutionary screen performance for professionals requiring the highest resolution available. Dell PremierColor and the anti-smudge / anti-reflective edge-to-edge glass design provide true-to-life color accuracy and pristine picture quality for color-critical work. It also delivers immersive acoustics with two 16W integrated Harman Kardon speakers. To optimize productivity, this highly innovative monitor offers six USB ports and one media card reader. You could spin this display vertically and get two separate 2,560 x 2,880 desktops atop each other.
- Oculus Rift Crescent Bay
Even though this product has not been officially released, it is available to the general public. The DK2, which was released in July 2014, brought so much to the table in regards to Virtual Reality. The newest version, code named “Crescent Bay” and introduced in September 2014, takes those advancements and doubles down. This version has greater resolution, a lower weight, built-in audio, and 360-degree tracking thanks to the presence of tracking LEDs in the back of the headset. I know a lot of us were scared when Facebook purchased Oculus back in March of this year, but the team at Oculus has made this product better and better with each version.
Since we are on the subject of VR, I will bring up another product from my previous article: the Cyberith. When coupled with the Oculus Rift, you will be fully engulfed in your game in a way that you’ve always dreamed of but never thought possible. Although you cannot “officially” purchase one right now, you will be able to very soon, I hope. Three hundred ninety-three Virtualizers were sold in their Kickstarter campaign, amounting to an impressive $361,452 raised, which means that the team is currently refining the product further (such as the recently added Bluetooth support) and preparing it for mass production. My guess is that the land of Destiny will never be the same and the Hive will not know what hit them. Just a guess though.
- Raspberry Pi A+
For those of you who are not familiar with the Raspberry Pi, it is basically an ARM GNU/Linux-based computer the size of a credit card, originally released in 2011. At that time, it cost a mere $25, and it did not take very long for hardware hackers to find interesting ways to use this device, from homemade robotics to home monitoring systems. With the newest member of the family, the A+, they have actually made the device smaller (65mm in length, versus 86mm), more expandable (GPIO header has grown to 40 pins), upgraded the micro-SD slot to support a more modern push-push mechanism, and added a dedicated low-noise power supply for the on-board audio circuit. The team made these improvements, plus dropped the price to $20! For those of you familiar with the Raspberry Pi family, you are probably wondering why I chose the Model A+ over the B+. They were released at the same time and the B+ has more memory, more USB2.0 ports, yada yada yada. I personally feel that most people, when buying their first Pi, will go for the cheaper A+ model. And as an intro to hardware hacking, I don’t think you can go wrong with that decision. Call it gateway hardware, if you so choose.
- iPhone 6
Easy one, right? We all know the new iPhone 6 is going to be on everyone’s lists this year. But my reasons for including it are pretty specific: security and Apple’s approach to it. No, it’s not their “tokenization” of your data. There’s nothing really new there. The web has been using “tokenization” for a long time. But by including a separate chip to handle all the encryption and decryption of the data, it takes a huge burden off the core processor. This is something that I think other manufacturers will have to take a look at for future models.
- Logitech K480 Bluetooth Keyboard
The K480 connects to several different platforms, minus Windows OS. And that is cool. But the fact that it can connect to them at the same time… That is big! Oh, did I forget to mention that this item is priced less than $50? Yes, the keyboard can be connected to a Win8.1 PC, via Bluetooth, while you have your iPad docked into the keyboard. There is a switch in the upper left of the device that allows you to switch between the different devices. All in all, pretty freaking cool!
- Creative Sound Blaster Roar SB20
The Roar SB20 may not be able to compete with its rival the Bose Soundlink Mini on overall sound quality, but with a price of $199.00 (during Cyber Monday sales it was listed for $129.00) and a feature list a mile long – it is a clear favorite. This portable speaker will do just about everything! Check it out for sure.
- Cube 3 by 3D Systems
The Cube 3D finally brings real 3D printing to the home! Starting at just under a grand for the base unit, you can make just about anything using ABS or compostable PLA plastic in up to two colors at a 70 micron thinness. Yes, each layer is 70 microns! The product comes with some designs built in, but you can also utilize their iOS and Android apps to get other designs. And yes, you can print from your phone or tablet when you find a design you like. If that’s not enough, they sell design software that will allow you to create anything you want.
- iSense by 3D Systems
Ok, so if you thought the Cube 3 was cool, sit down before reading any further. iSense turns your iPad into a 3D scanner. The product consists of two parts. First is a camera attachment that fits over the lens on your iPad. The second is the app you load on your iPad that captures the digital snapshots and pieces everything together into a 3D model. Once made into a model, you use the app to send the print job to your Cube 3 or other 3D Systems printer and boom! Check out the link above and look for the video… It will blow your mind, I promise. A bit pricey at $500, but hey – who said cool tech is cheap?
- Intel Core M Processor
Well, there is a lot we can cover about the Core M. A whole lot! To start, it is based on 14nm architecture. That’s really small and caused them all sorts of production fits. The chip was actually supposed to be launched in 2013, but due to these issues it was pushed back to 2014. Next, they are available from 2.0GHz to 2.9GHz, all running on dual cores. Most importantly, the chips run on a mere 4.5W (watts). Compared to a current generation Intel i5 which runs on a whopping 25W, the Core M can run much cooler, which means that it does not require a fan. The chip is also much thinner and has a smaller footprint, thanks to 14nm lithography. What this all means is that our tablets will soon be able to keep up with our desktops. Notice that I said soon? The first generation of the Core M has not been overly groundbreaking, although they do offer far better results than the most powerful mobile-based processors on the market today. It is a move in the right direction, and a big move at that.
As always – keep your sites clear, your code clean and your arrows sharp!
Have you heard the latest episode of The JustUs Geeks Podcast yet? WHY NOT?!? Listen to it here!
Here’s lots of other things you can also do: