Top 5 Affordable & Innovative Tech Gadgets at CES 2012

robot greets visitors at cesThe 2012 International CES (Consumer Electronics Show) hit the city of Las Vegas from January 10th through the 13th. This annual convention brings together more than 3,100 companies displaying their innovations spread across 1.85 million square feet at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Sands Exposition Center – that equates to more than 37 football fields worth of space.

With exhibitors that include Sony, Toshiba, Mercedes-Benz, and DMC Electric – who, in 2013, will be relaunching the DeLorean (made famous by the 1985 film “Back to the Future”) – one might think that CES offers little to the average, frugal consumer. However, if you look carefully, there are a number of products and tools that are not only affordable, but can help you save time and money in your everyday life.

5 Useful & Cheap Innovations at CES

1. SecurityMan SM-3803 Dummy Camera

The SM-3803 is a solar-powered security “camera” that can be used at your home or office. It does not, however, actually record anything. The camera is a decoy complete with a flashing LED light that only appears to be keeping watch over your property. A built-in solar panel uses both natural and artificial light as its energy source, which means that it’s a green way to keep your property safe and prevent home burglary.

The SM-3803 Dummy Camera retails for $29.99, and comes with wall mount brackets, screws, and a pair of security sign stickers.

dummy cameras

2. AboutOne Smartphone App

The AboutOne smartphone app, available for the iPhone, Android, and Windows phones, is a calendar-based online organizer. However, it is much more than just a digital date book – it is a comprehensive life-organizing management system.

This app manages to combine bank-level security with the ability to share information whenever you wish, ranging from medical history and scheduled appointments, to family photos and children’s artwork. AboutOne also features an online filing cabinet, which stores data ranging from your (or your children’s) blood type, immunization history, and even social security numbers.

AboutOne founder and developer Joanne Lang wanted to capitalize on her experience with cloud technology to help busy moms manage family life. However, the true inspiration behind AboutOne came about when one of her four young children suffered a life-threatening asthma attack.

As Lang explains, one of her sons had to be rushed to the hospital when his breathing nearly stopped. With only her keys and phone on her, she was unable to provide the paramedics with a list of medications – crucial information in a dire situation. With AboutOne, the user will always have such information in the palm of his or her hand. Furthermore, AboutOne allows the user to automatically create family newsletters, health summaries, babysitter instructions, and greeting cards that mail themselves.

AboutOne is currently in beta form. Request an invite at

aboutone app

3. NSD Power Spinner Auto Start

5% of the working population in the United States suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome. Surgery to correct this problem can cost upwards of $10,000, and can cause you to lose more than a month of work.

If you, like so many others, spend 40 or more hours per week at your keyboard, you are at high risk to develop such an injury. However, for 14 years, the NSD Power Spinner has been allowing athletes and folks at high risk of repetitive stress induced injuries to get a fun, simple workout that relieves stress, builds strength, and can help deter the possibility of becoming afflicted with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The NSD Power Spinner is a handheld gyro that consists of a rapidly spinning rotor encased in a solid plastic outer sphere. The faster you spin the Power Spinner, the more inertia the inner gyro generates, therefore increasing the resistance inflicted on your hand and wrist. It offers a unique, gentle, non-impact workout that can be used for preventative exercise or rehabilitation – all delivered by a little ball spinning at up to 15,000 RPM!

The Auto Start model, in particular, is fun and very easy to use. It retails for $49.95 (non-LCD screen model).


4. CarChip Pro

The benefits of the CarChip Pro are many. This simple tiny gadget installs instantly into your OBDII port and will allow you to record summary trips of every drive, including times, distances, and more. Additionally, it tracks maximum speeds and incidences of hard braking and “jackrabbit” starts, and monitors battery voltage, engine load, emissions status, and coolant temperature.

Your teenage children may not enjoy the fact that you have an exact record of every speed limit exceeded, but having such statistics on hand will help you teach your kids safe driving habits. Furthermore, the constant monitoring of multiple facets of the engine performance enables you to keep your car in peak running condition.

The CarChip Pro retails for $99. It’s a significant initial investment, but by allowing you to easily monitor your car’s performance and keep up to date on car maintenance, it may save you a lot of money in the long run by helping you to avoid costly repairs.


5. Schick Hydro 5 Power Select

The Schick Hydro 5 Power Select razor is a multi-speed vibrating razor that gives a close shave utilizing five blades, skin guards, and a hydrating gel reservoir to smooth your skin. Unlike many other multi-blade razors, the Hydro 5 Power Select comes with a trimmer on the top to allow you to precisely trim tough spots.

I was able to receive a “test shave” at Schick’s makeshift barbershop at CES. As someone with perpetual 5 o’clock shadow, I found the shave to be quite smooth, and the multiple blades to be quite powerful – though I’m not entirely convinced the vibration feature is a key component.

Regardless, you can’t go wrong with this razor. It will hit retailers in late January with a price of only $10.99.

schick hydro 5 power select

Final Word

If you were to visit every display of every retailer at CES, you would walk a whopping 15 miles! With so many innovators, inventors, distributors, and retailers, it is truly an overwhelming sensory experience. With each turn of the head, new, futuristic gadgets, appliances, and software programs draw you in and capture your imagination. In fact, Disney’s Epcot Center pales in comparison.

Unfortunately, the average consumer will not be able to ever own many of the items they see on the show floor. Many exhibited products will never be developed beyond the conceptual phase, and many more will simply cost too much. Fortunately, amid the sea of high-priced toys and prototypes are innovative and affordable items that can fit into just about any budget. Come out to Las Vegas in 2013 to see for yourself.

Have you ever visited CES in Las Vegas? What gadgets have you discovered that are great for everyday use?

(photo credit: Shahab Zargari, Jackson Ellis)

  • kc @ psychomoney

    I hate how they are always changing the razors, I think the only reason they do it is so we have to upgrade every year or so.

    • Anonymous

      That’s quite possible!

  • Alisama

    Wow! What a horribly written article! You suck! Suck! Retire already! LOOSER! j/k. Well written my handsome cousin:)

  • Rebecca

    I just requested an invite for AboutOne, I’m so excited to start using this app. It is just what I need!!

    • Anonymous

      As a parent of two young kids, I couldn’t agree more!