CES 2013 Part 1 – Rugged Gadgets

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It’s that time of year again, where manufacturers try and strut their stuff in an attempt to woo geeks and non-geeks alike at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).  Newer, better, faster… that’s typically the name of the game.

The party has just begun, but already we’ve seen a lot to whet the appetites of travelers.  Let’s get to it.

Rugged Tablets, Cameras, and More

The Best Tablet to Drop

Panasonic has been known for making some of the toughest laptops around, but now they are using that ToughBook prowess for tablets as well.  The ToughPad FZ-G1 running Windows 8 Pro is rated for drops of 4 feet (1.2m), and has an all-weather design that can withstand temperatures well below freezing.  They are calling it the “World’s Thinnest and Lightest Rugged Windows 8 Tablet” even though it weighs 2.4lbs (1.1kg).  Just goes to show you don’t have much to choose from in this space.

The 10” tablet will run you a cool $2899 when it goes on sale in Feb 2013.

Rugged Cameras Go Cheap

lumix-zs30-tmaOnce relegated to only the higher end of the pricing scale, waterproof / weather-resistant cameras can now be had on a budget.  The Sony Cyber-Shot TF1 and Olympus Stylus Tough TG-630 will both sell for $199 in the next month or two.

Higher end options such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS30 add premium features such as a 20x optical zoom, WiFi and NFC support for $399.

For something a little more compact, Olympus’ newest flagship Stylus Touch Tough TG-2 is waterproof to 50ft (15m) and includes a fast f2.0 Olympus lens.  Handy for those active travelers, it has built in GPS and elevation recording.  If you want to get even deeper, an underwater housing that lets you take it down to 135ft (45m) will also be available.

Even Speakers Go Rugged

brv-1-tma

If money is no object, and weather is, Braven has the answer for you.  The Braven BRV-1 is a bluetooth speaker covered in rubber, including protected ports in the back.  It is drop-proof and water resistant (class IPX5), and will get you 10 hours of playback on a single charge.  That’s a lot of dancing in the rain.

The Braven BRV-1 will set you back $169 in March.

Finally a Smartphone That Can Take a Dip

xperiaz-tmaNothing produces a wince like a smartphone getting dropped in a puddle.  Although there has been talk for years about providing better protection against the elements, Sony has stepped up to the plate to not only fill the gap, but do it in a sleek, high-end handset.

The Sony Xperia Z is a very slick Android smartphone with a 5” screen, quad-core processor, and a 13MP camera in a slim 7.9mm body.  It’s also been made to comply with IP55 and IP57 specs for water & dust resistance.  I bet you’re wondering what that even means.

Provided that all ports and covers are firmly closed, the phone is (i) protected against low pressure jets of water from all practicable directions in compliance with IP 55; and/or (ii) can be kept under 1 meter of freshwater for up to 30 minutes in compliance with IP 57.

So that should mean no more dust getting under the screen, and more Instagram photos in the rain.  No word on whether it will stop people from dropping their phones in the toilet / outhouse / shallow hole in the forest.  I guess they have to leave a feature out to add in next year…

We’ll have more of what’s to come from CES in the next few weeks.

 

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