More and more imaging manufacturers are discovering the tremendous opportunities the annual CEA LineShows event in New York holds for them as a midyear stage for their latest and greatest gadgets and gizmos. At the 2011 show, held last month in Manhattan, several imaging companies used the crowded show floor to demo their various new hardware and software solutions.
A convenient midtown location at 7 West 34th Street provided the backdrop as more than 70 consumer electronic vendors grabbed booth space to present a wide range of “must have” gadgets and gizmos ranging from 3D TVs to solar-powered charging devices.
We’ll take a closer look at what made news from the digital imaging side of the equation in this space as accessories, storage, capture and output needs were all impressively addressed.
We’ll present what was on tap in the same order we stumbled upon them as we strolled the busy 2011 show floor.
Monitors and printers don’t always communicate very clearly with one another. This is particularly true when it comes to color management issues as that blue coat in the photo sometimes prints out as a purple coat. As a company, Datacolor’s main focus is on helping consumers consistently achieve the right color in their printed images, and their Spyder3 Express product automatically adjusts the color on the monitor so photos appear more accurately. It’s an $89 tool that takes the once complicated science of color calibration down to a level everyone can handle. datacolor.com
Seagate’s GoFlex family of portable hard drives now includes some nifty wireless capabilities, and for the tablet lovers among us who need more storage than their own internal memory provides, Seagate announced the GoFlex Satellite mobile wireless storage drive, a Wi-Fi-enabled hard drive meant to extend the storage capacity of iPads and other portable devices, including tablets and smartphones. Users can roam up to 30 feet away from the drive and still maintain their wireless signal.
The 500GB hard drive packs enough storage for large photo and HD video collections and comes with a battery good for five hours of life unplugged from any other power source. In addition to a regular AC adapter, the GoFlex Satellite includes a car charger, so you can power up on the road. Of course, it also connects to PCs and Macs too, via USB 3.0 or an optional FireWire 800 cable. $200. seagate.com
Tiffen showcased a nifty solution for all those mobile device owners out there, at least the ones that are having trouble recording steady video/photos with the units, as the company showed the new Smoothee for the Flip MinoHD and iPod Touch. Tiffen had upgraded the product earlier this year to handle the iPhone 3G and iPhone 4.
A superlight metal frame with quick-release grip to hold the phone itself, a rigid vertical handle and their Steadicam product’s usual stabilization technology that keeps the camera steady while moving it around are all a part of the new Smoothees. The iPhone grip also detaches for use as a desktop support, or it can be attached to a standard tripod. They have added additional models coming, including one that handles the new iGo camera.
Tiffen also announced the Dfx V3 software, an update to their award-winning digital effects solution that simulates many popular Tiffen glass filters, specialized lenses, optical lab processes, film grain, exacting color correction, plus natural light and photographic effects. Set to launch in Q3 of 2011, V3 delivers several updates to the Dfx suite, which already includes 2,000+ filters and effects. tiffen.com
At the 2011 CEA LineShows, Mimoco creator of Mimobot designer USB flash drives, unveiled their new Transformers x Mimobot character flash drive designs. Perfect for the younger demographic, this new collection features two iconic favorites from Transformers in classic Mimobot form: Megatron and Optimus Prime.
Mimoco also showcased their popular Hello Kitty, Star Wars, tokidoki and DC Comics Mimobot lines, including the recently released Green Lantern characters. Each Mimobot designer USB flash drive comes in a range of 2GB to 16GB memory capacities and is preloaded with MimoDesk character-specific content, such as wallpapers, avatars, screensavers and other digital extras. $22.95-$59.95. mimoco.com
ToCAD America rolled out their impressive Sunpak line of photo accessories, including the new Sunpak VL-LED video light series. These external camera/camcorder lights light up subjects for better color, contrast and clarity. With rows of high-powered LEDs, this compact lighting solution brings new depth to photos and videos.
The powerful LEDs can illuminate over 20 feet and the units include a dimmer control to adjust the amount of light. Powered by just two AA batteries in a compact housing, the line includes the VL-LED-09 (nine lights), VL-LED-12, VL-LED-30 and VL-LED-42. tocad.com
Along with their reliable USB flash drive lineup, PNY introduced their new Active High-Speed HDMI Micro cable that let users quickly and easily view their images and videos in HD on their large-screen TVs. The high-speed cables feature an innovative, ultrathin and flexible design and allow for easy and convenient access to videos, photos, presentations, Web browsing and e-books direct from a variety of portable devices (including digital cameras) right to a projector, monitor or HDTV. The lightweight and pliable design allows greater portability and flexibility for ease of use. PNY’s newest cable enables users to maximize the potential of their latest devices that feature an HDMI Micro port. 10 feet, $49.99. pny.com
Targus displayed their wide range of laptop computer cases and accessories at CEA LineShows, along with their new screen protector for the Apple iPad. The screen protector reduces fingerprints and smudges on the device’s screen maintaining clarity. “With the added features of antiglare treatment and specially formulated adhesive that prevents bubbles and peeling, it is the most comprehensive screen protector for your iPad available on the market today,” the company explained. Targus also manufactures universal screen protectors for digital cameras and video cameras. $19.99-$29.99. targus.com
Talk about a cool accessory to sell to your mobile-crazed customer base, Scosche unveiled a nifty dash-mount kit for the Apple iPad. Meant to take the place of a standard car radio, the iKit both charges the iPad through a USB port and enables audio usage of the device, while also sporting a rotating mounting system. It can be used to listen to satellite radio and Pandora, as well as the user’s own personal iPad library through iTunes. The system can also pivot the iPad toward the passenger, giving them access to Web and/or image surfing. $200-$250. scosche.com
Mack Camera has literally transformed a local company into one of the largest, independent consumer electronic repair facilities in the U.S. The company’s service and repair history turned out to be just the beginning of their impact on the camera industry.
They now offer Extended Service Contracts as well as international repair service and coverage. Originally designed, they explain, to extend the OEM warranty, their warranty program was later revamped with more contracts that offer a greater coverage scope, adding categories such as accidental damage, impact damage and unintentional abuse. mackcam.com
The big complaint from most iPhone owners is that there has been no convenient way for them to get prints from the images they are capturing. Seeing as the cameras in those devices are only going to get better, VuPoint’s Picture Cube would seem to be a pretty cool accessory for this ever-growing crowd. The device allows the user to view, print and charge their iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or Android phones. The printer features a docking station on the top of the unit that houses the smartphone and an easy interface that prints 4x6s, or you can partition up to four images to appear on one 4×6 print. $99. vupoint.com.
Imaging Industry by the Numbers
Both the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and TWICE released some interesting statistical data during CEA LineShows, all of which highlighted some good news for the category as we head into the second half of 2011.
CEA released numbers that illustrate the digital camera category continues to see growth despite the continued advancements being made in the imaging part of the equation in the smartphone category. Spending by U.S. consumers on digital cameras is expected to exceed $6.9 billion for 2011. This would represent a slight increase over the $6.8 billion spent on the category in 2010.
The digital camera category also faired well in a recent survey conducted by CEA on what CE items consumers plan to buy for the upcoming holiday 2011 selling, season as the category placed third overall.
Also at CEA LineShows TWICE, partnering with the Stevenson Company, released some interesting information specific to the imaging industry, including their announcement that the top 25 U.S. camera retailers saw a 6.5% gain in overall sales of cameras and camcorders in 2010. This group totaled $8.73 billion in total 2009 sales figures in those two categories combined, and that figure rose to $9.30 billion in 2010.
The TWICE Top 25 list of camera retailers includes Best Buy at number one, followed by Amazon.com at number two. Walmart was ranked third and Costco came in at number four. RadioShack, Target, B&H, Ritz and Sam’s Club rounded out the top 10.