Last Thursday saw the return of Pepcom NYC, a press event for the consumer technology industry. We took a trip to Manhattan to meet with manufacturers like Worx, Seagate, and TCL so they could show us some of their latest gadgets and upcoming products.. While this year was a little smaller than previous shows due to COVID, there is still a lot to see. Here’s the most innovative equipment on offer with features and aesthetics that stand out from competitors in their respective categories.
Intelligent lawn mower robot
We’re no strangers to lawn mowers, so we were excited to see Worx’s Landroid’s latest model pack some cool features. With microblades that cut to the edge of your garden perimeter and adjustable blade height (1.5 to 3.6 inches), Landroids ensure even, deep pruning. The entry-level Landroid Model S is ideal for smaller spaces ⅛ with a 2.0Ah battery. The premium Landroid L triples the battery and goes the distance up to 6.0Ah and ½ acre.
Programming the bots is as simple as using a smartphone app or the built-in LCD screen. And when the battery runs low or it starts raining heavily, Landroids automatically return to their base station. If you’re concerned about the robots working over sticks, rocks, or the occasional throw of grass, the floating blade system automatically adjusts the cutting clearance height to avoid snags. Worx also included a neat festive trick: you can take out the Landroid’s battery and replace it with over 35 models of the brand’s power tools.
Wireless vinyl turntable
A portable vinyl record player wasn’t on our Pepcom bingo card this year, but Victrola surprised us with Revolution GO – the world’s first portable, rechargeable, Bluetooth-enabled record player. I had a lot of reservations about the table from a design and audio standpoint due to portability, but I walked away impressed by the full stereo sound of the built-in speakers and passive bass cooler. You can even stream a vinyl record to other external Bluetooth headphones via GO. While we wish the foldable handle had a more rounded shape for the grip, it’s comfortable, and there’s a shoulder strap to distribute the weight evenly across your body.
Look closely at the dust cap in the photo above and you can see the grooves inside, which act as record holders for up to five albums. Victrola claims that GO provides 12 hours of battery life, but without a visible battery indicator, we were unable to calculate the estimated battery drain rate during the three hour event. If you love the way vinyl captures every note, GO is the best vinyl player choice to bring that sound with you. I don’t know if I would necessarily bring GO to the beach, like the Victrola reps on the show who kept using her as an example. But for gathering friends or just moving a music setting between rooms, this is a really useful device.
Smart home devices with comprehensive integration and control
GE appliances have been a staple in American homes for over 116 years. With a relatively recent leap into the smart home space with the Cync range, GE appliances offer plenty of control and integration options at an affordable price. Currently, the complete system consists of the indoor smart camera, the flood light and the external smart socket. The Cync app integrates seamlessly with Google and Alexa smart hubs, allows for some in-depth customization and control, and features features like TrueImage capture, which overlays lighting color selections on your space for real-time preview. The smart indoor camera offers a privacy shutter, a built-in SD card for local storage, and a 1080p resolution. It looks clear on the phone screen, and local card storage makes it easy to save recordings without a subscription.
An external smart plug allows advanced programming capabilities based on time of day or custom scheduling, two-socket independent control, and scene control. While GE brought the capabilities of the plug to life with a timely holiday light demo, I can see that this is really useful for outdoor TVs or speaker systems in warmer climates. I wish I could throw some water on the plug while holding it, as GE claims the device is all-weather safe for exposure to rain, dirt, and snow.
Affordable 8K TV for the best picture quality
Front and center at the entrance to the event stood TCL’s new 8K 6-Series TV. With a higher color gamut and sharper resolution than 4K TVs can produce, original 8K content looked noticeably sharper on screen. We already have this model in our tests lab now, and we’ve found that even 4K content upgraded to 8K looks better, with AI preventing any distortions or distortions in the sharper image. The biggest pull out of performance is the $1,999 price tag for the 65-inch model. That’s way less than the best 65-inch 4K TVs out there with the performance and 8K capabilities that make more bang for your buck.
There are two HDMI 2.1 ports for connecting the latest gaming consoles and streaming devices to display 120Hz 4K and 60Hz 8K content. The speakers are good enough, but audiophiles will definitely want to migrate an existing sound system or upgrade for the best home theater or gaming setup.
Studio-quality portable recorder that doubles as a USB microphone
Small enough to slip into the palm of your hand or pocket, this portable recorder doubles as a USB condenser microphone for professional audio. This means you can record podcasts or music and make calls using the microphone for up to 12 hours on battery or connected via USB for a stable power supply. Despite the noise of the crowded Pepcom venue hall, my audio test recordings had minimal background chatter, and my voice sounded full, without any distortion.
To achieve rich sound from direct sound sources and the ambient environment, the Tula microphone uses cardioid and multiple microphones. Cardioid microphones face the front of the device to clearly capture interviews or personal recordings from one direction. Omnidirectional ECM capsules that point in different directions pick up ambient sound – better for live performances or group chats. The technology that achieves this combination of portability and sound quality is great but it takes up space – I wish the device would allow for more than eight gigabytes of internal storage. If you want to connect a lavalier microphone, the headphone jack also doubles as an input for audio pickup.
Combines smart lock and video doorbell
The Lockly Vision smart lock includes a built-in video camera and fingerprint scanner. You can see who is at your door with a glance from the app and unlock your door with a passcode, fingerprint, app, voice control, or with your original keys. During the demo, I was unable to identify the entered code on the keyboard screen from a distance of three feet thanks to Lockly’s PIN Genie. Designed to prevent peak access, the keypad screen moves around the position of the passcode numbers so that taps cannot be simulated.
The lock includes a Wi-Fi bridge, so you can connect it to the smart home ecosystem of your choice and lock the door remotely or talk to visitors from anywhere with an internet connection. For the side doors, the Lockly Flex (coming later this year) cuts back on features set to fingerprint lock and Bluetooth enabled, making it more affordable for a third of the price of the Vision.
Plug and Play SSD Drive for Xbox Series X | S.
While Seagate’s drives are fast and reliable across PCs and game consoles, the Xbox SSD proved to be our favorite drive of the show. With PS5 or PC, you need to put in a stick-like SSD properly, which takes some time and skill. The Xbox Drive is a plug-and-play cartridge-based system that clicks directly into the console. I still get Fast read and write speeds for an internal solid state drive, only with a better design, now up to 2TB.
Beskar Ingot drives offer high-performance versions of Firecuda PCIe Gen4 NVMe SSD and SATA drives in a stylish look straight from Mandalorian. Although these drives won’t be available until later in the season, they’re great for any fan or collector who wants to spice up the look of their PC’s interior.
Flashlight that starts your car battery
By combining a jump starter, phone charger and flashlight in one device, the Scosche PowerUp 600 Torch can simplify your emergency kit. Bulb jumps 600-amp motors up to eight liters and diesel engines up to two liters three times from a full charge. You won’t be able to look across a dark field with a 300 lumen bulb, but the flashlight will provide illumination to the nearby area in a jiffy.
In the scenarios where you simply need to power your phone or laptop with juice, the 2000mAh battery acts as a portable power bank. The torch comes fully charged, and the battery will hold that charge for up to six months. The grip felt very strong and withstood a few blasts on a table and five-foot drops without any dents or dings.
Virtually indestructible flip smartphone
The rugged Cat S22 touchscreen phone is rugged, packs Android 11 OS, and has antique physical touch keys. The rubberized TPU exterior is fully adherent, and the hinge provides a satisfying click-open and snap when closed. Running the phone on T-Mobile 4G LTE, demo web pages loaded within seconds, and Google Assistant support was fast.
With an IP68 rating and MIL SPEC 810H certification, the phone is water-resistant, chemical-resistant, survives drops, and can withstand harsh weather changes. If you work in a place that might not be smartphone friendly, like commerce or construction, the CAT S22 is easy to use and built to last, with the full feature set of an Android smartphone.
Child safe mobile phone and smart watch with GPS tracking
Gabb Kids phones aren’t as tough as the CAT S22 above, but they’ll stand up to plenty of everyday abuse while still offering enough functionality. Parents can track their kids using GPS, while kids can call and text (most importantly) they can’t access the internet. The Z2’s flashy physical design competes with any Android smartphone today without any slickness, so you don’t have to worry about your offspring accessing sites and apps they shouldn’t.
Gabb Watch is the perfect smartphone watch for young children. Little ones can make calls, send preset texts or voice messages, and count their steps with an easy-to-use watch. The optional virtual pet app built into the device requires walking, washing and feeding to teach care and responsibility skills. It’s cute and took me back to my tamagotchi childhood days.
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