Days into the annual Consumer Electronics Show--where companies show off their latest and greatest gizmos--we now have signs of what bloggers think are the show's must-have and must-skip gadgets. Reviews have mostly focused on the trendy devices, so here's a slightly skewed list of five products, which for better or worse, are being widely discussed. Note: We're purposely leaving out the highest-profile device of all--did you know it's the year of the tablet? For now, at least, the topic's exhausted: Been there (Apple tablet). Done that (Microsoft tablet).
- The Que E-reader As The Independent reports, E-readers are "on the lips and minds" of techies the world over and one of the most-hyped and much-discussed readers is the Que, which has partnered with a handful of major newspapers and Barnes & Noble. As far as PC World's Harry McCracken is concerned, the Que stands out from the very large crowd of competing e-readers: "Que looks like it has the potential to be the slickest and most versatile e-reading device to date, it's full of interesting technology and touches, and its emphasis on corporate use is smart; it's anything but a Kindle wannabe."
- The AR.Drone Helicopter The iPhone-controlled AR.Drone helicopter is the coolest toy CNET's Rafe Needleman says he has ever seen. It's $500 and a one-hour charge gives you 15 minutes of flight time. There's even a game you can play on the iPhone in which you avoid virtual enemies on your while the real helicopter mirrors your moves. Sounds like a geek dream come true. Right now, it tops CNET's user poll of the most exciting things about CES so far (about 800 total votes at the time of this writing), although Lady Gaga's appearance early on is a not-too distant second.
- Light Blue Optic's Light Touch Remember that scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise uses his hands to manipulate computer projections? Well, apparently we're moving a step in that direction. Equipped with a portable projector and motion sensor, the Light Touch can almost turn any flat surface into a touch screen. Tech Digest's Gerald Lynch is a fan: "There's limitless potential here; restaurant menus, tube maps, etc etc. Consider us officially very excited." For some photos of how it could be used in real life, check out this Walyou.com (yeah, we've never heard of them either) post or this CNET post.
- Vuzix WRAP 920AR. Reviews of these augmented reality glasses--which can display digital content overlaid on real scenes--are mostly neutral, but many posters agree that there's a lot of potential. "I'm not so sure you would want to be seen wearing these glasses outside in public, but they are pretty cool," writes SlashGear's Shane McGlaun. Most posters like the idea, but the problem is the look. But, as Engadget's Nilay Patel snarkily puts it, "what's one layer of virtualized abstraction between friends who don't mock each other for wearing ridiculous $800 video glasses?" (James Cascio argued against augmented reality products in November's issue of The Atlantic for making it too easy to filter things and people we don't like: "You want to block out any indication of viewpoints other than your own? Done.")
- The Phubby Engadget highlights the phubby as one of two "crapgadgets" so far this year. It's a piece of fabric that wraps around the wrist and has a marsupial-like pounch (that's an official phubby description) for your cell phone. Engadget's Jacob Schulman highlights its dual uses: "It's advertised as a cubby for your wrist, but it doubles as an opposite-sex repellent." (For the curious: the other "crapgadget" is a TV inside a fake stuffed polar bear.)