Lunch at Piero’s is always a great event during CES that we always try to attend. Piero’s Italian Restaurant is located within walking distance from the Convention Center and each year they have a 2 day luncheon for media. During this luncheon they invite companies to show off new products and technologies. We really like this event because we get a 1 on 1 with companies in a more relaxed atmosphere. Let’s see some of the cool things we saw this year at Lunch at Piero’s.
D-Link was once focused on just networking products. In the past few years, it has greatly expanded its product line, focusing on what D-Link Media Relations Manager Les Goldberg calls “digital home accessories.” These products focus on four areas: entertainment, storage, security, and, obviously, connectivity.
D-Link’s most impressive showing of CES, and winner of an award for its design, was the Boxee Box. Boxee is a multiplatform media player application with all kinds of plugins, playback sources, and support. It has a great interface and can access a ton of online services for playback on a television via a computer. Until now, only those savvy enough to connect a computer to a television have been able to enjoy Boxee to the fullest. Now, the Boxee Box remedies that.
The Boxee Box is quite literally a tiny computer which runs nothing but Boxee. Powered by a dual ARM A8 processors with Nvidia’s Tegra 2 graphics chipset, the Boxee Box runs a stripped-done Linux installation with just enough installed to run Boxee and run it perfectly. It has two USB ports, an SD slot, wired and wireless Ethernet for networking, and a wireless keyboard the size of a remote. The keyboard is actually held not unlike a Wiimote on its side. Here’s the cool thing: because it’s Boxee, it needs Flash to play back a lot of Internet-based content. Guess what? It has it: Adobe Flash 10.1 is on the device.
There are a ton of applications and shared content available, with Twitter connectivity, and much much more. It will be available in the second quarter for $200. I won’t hesitate to say that it’s a game changer for media player devices.
Check out the interview and demo with Boxee VP of Marketing Andrew Kippen at Lunch @ Piero’s.
D-Link also showed the Pebble, a basic media player available soon for $100, but with no bells and whistles. D-Link was not demonstrating it at all.
D-Link wants to bring connected security devices to the consumer level, too. It started with a line of connected video cameras, but this year expands greater to a series of door sensors, window sensors, and motion censors. All of it will be able to be monitored through a D-Link router or NAS.
An example workflow is this: a D-Link Doorbell triggers a picture camera, which then takes a picture and sends it to the homeowner’s mobile phone. The homeowner can connect remotely and disable the lock and the security system to let in the visitor, or use their phone to call the police for a potential unwanted, aggressive intruder.
The company will also soon introduce a home energy monitoring starter kit. The monitors look like extension cords with a bulge in the middle. This bulge contains the monitoring system which will wirelessly update. It will be “reasonably priced” when released.
The D-Link Touch is a wireless router with a touch interface on it. Many folks are not to be trusted with web interfaces for control or system-side setup programs, so D-Link saw fit to equip this devices with a control panel on the front. With the touch interface. It seems like overkill, but folks who mess around with router settings frequently but don’t want to use a web interface to do so will likely love the D-Link Touch. Technically, it will sport a 3×3 antenna and be capable of 450 Mbps (whereas most devices on the market are 300 Mbps). It will be available in the second or third quarter. No pricing is current available.
D-Link will release this year a portable NAS with no hard drive included. It can take a single 2.5″ device and connect via wired Ethernet. Pricing and availability where unavailable.
Colin Dean has been a writer for ThinkComputers since 2006.