CES 2012: The Good, The Bad, The Dubious

Avi Rosenthal muses about Motorola 4Home, strange cloud thermostats, faux tubes on Samsung's "tube amp" and more from CES 2012.

Allure Energy's proximity-enabled cloud-based thermostat. Hmmm.
Julie Jacobson · January 15, 2012

If you want to know about the most interesting things at CES 2012, talk to someone smarter than you. Which is what I did.

Avi Rosenthal is a former integrator and CE Pro contributor who now works with Evolve, a manufacturer of control systems for the residential and hospitality markets.

He knows this technology stuff way better than I. Here’s what resonated with him:

The Awesome

Motorola MOTOACTV Exercise Music Player
Avi was totally digging the MOTOACTV smart music player from Motorola. Available in a harness, wrist band and other form factors, the device measures your distance, speed and heart rate, playing your music accordingly.

imageThe free Android app evaluates your music and matches your cadence or pushes you harder with faster songs. It learns your workout habits and adjusts accordingly. It can figure out which songs motivate you best.

Motorola 4Home Automation with Smart Actions
Avi also got a demo of the Motorola Smart Actions with 4Home home automation system—thanks to our story on the subject. 4Home founder Jim Hunter showed Avi a Razr phone programmed so that pressing the power button turned on the lights and then turned off the lights when pressed again.

Avi says the response was “instantaneous, demonstrating the power of the platform.” He gushes about the capability to link WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS awareness with home-control capabilities via Smart Actions. Holding up his iPhone, Avi says, “This becomes your RFID tag.”

And the endorsement of the century? “It’s so cool I want to drop my iPhone and go with Android,” Avi says.

Currently, he explains, the configuration is done through some if-then-else programming, but Motorola is sure to put a consumer-friendly face on it.

Cheap PCs
Over in the OEM zone, Chinese manufacturers are peddling 21.5-inch PC touchscreens with the Windows 7 Home – nice Intel Atom processor and all – for around $350. Avi bought a few “samples.”

The Dubious

Dish Hopper DVR
Dish Network Hopper DVRAvi is a serious TV buff. He subscribes to everything. He watches everything. So he was intrigued by the Hopper whole-house DVR from Dish. With its six tuners, the unit can automatically record primetime shows on every major network, creating a virtual video-on-demand TV service.

Dish has a deal with the majors networks, but not the cable networks. That’s the deal breaker for Avi, who says, “I actually contemplated shifting to Dish, but it’s not as cool as it sounds.”

He adds, “It would have been really cool 10 years ago when everyone was watching network TV.”

imageSamsung DA-E750 iPod Dock
Samsung’s trying to be trendy with its new DA-E750 “tube amplifier” iPod dock with all that fancy wood and two awesome-looking tubes that might look enticing to an audiophile (Image from TechCrunch, thank you).

Avi, who says the tubes last only a year or so, asks the Samsung rep how long the tubes last. The Samsung rep says a good 10 years.

Turns out, they’re only on the inputs, and then audio is digitized for the output. Avi says Samsung is touting the speakers for folks who want “mellow, tube-like sound.”

  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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