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CTIA: Sometimes the Appetizers Are Better Than the Main Course (Photos)

There was some interesting gadgets on display at this year's MobileFocus show running concurrently with the CTIA conference.

The common theme from the oh-so-jaded reporters and bloggers covering this week's CTIA conference in San Francisco, it's that the show is a little ho-hum this year. It's my first time, so it seemed plenty exciting to me. There's the CEO jokingly 'cursing' at the federal government, another CEO announcing his carrier's imminent 4G LTE rollouts, and still another CEO rolling out half-a-dozen Android smartphones in a bid to re-grab some of his company's recent past glory. But I must admit that last night's MobileFocus show - a longtime adjunct to CTIA - offered a fun mix of wine, good food and new gadgets. Here's what caught my eye:

Tablet maker Archos had its full fleet of recently-announced Android tablets on display. I played around with the Archos 10. The UI lacks the speed and smoothness of the iPad. But it wasn't startlingly heavy like the iPad (the Archos is less than a pound). And you can't beat the price.

Mobile case maker Dexim showed me this ivory-colored iPhone 4 case with a slim 2000 mAh battery inside. That's almost 50% bigger than the iPhone 4's built-in 1420 mAh battery. For $59, not a bad deal for on-the-go types who are constantly running out of juice by lunch time.

No, this man isn't wearing some funky hearing aid. It's the $199 Looxcie wearable camcorder, which promises to solve the problem of how to "live life" while, short of hiring a personal cameraman, also capturing it on video. It has an Android app for easy texting to pals or uploading to Facebook.

Wireless chargers always seemed to me like the classic solution in search of a problem. Especially since most wireless chargers are likely to waste more energy during the charging process than plug ones - a bad thing in these green times. But the Energizer rep here insisted that its new charging station is just as efficient as plug-in ones. Moreover, the new station is the first she claimed to be compatible with the Qi wireless charging standard.

X1 was long the only alternative to Windows XP's slow built-in desktop search. Despite what you might think, the free Google Desktop hasn't killed X1. Its reps said there are about 1 million active users. Moreover, X1 is still innovating. It is launching a $9.99 desktop e-mail search app for the iPhone. This could be useful if, for instance, you are forced by your stingy Exchange storage quota to keep a lot of old Outlook e-mail and attachments stored locally on your work PC.

Buffalo Technologies has improved its lineup of Network-Attached Storage (think: smart hard disks for your videos). Its newest models boast a 1.6 GHz Marvell processor to drive what it says is the industry's fastest sustained throughput - 76 Mbps. Buffalo has also come out with an iPhone/iPad app that lets users download or stream their video files from their mobile device over 3G or Wi-Fi.

There's no shortage number of ways to watch TV on your smartphone these days. Here's another one: Bitbop, which launched in June (sorry, no pic). Think of the service, a subsidiary of News Corp. (owners of 20th Century Fox), as a Hulu Plus for the mobile phone: 27 networks, no commercials, $9.99 a month. Viewers can stream the video or download it onto their phones for hiccup-free vewing. The latter is something most services such as Hulu and Netflix don't offer. On the other hand, Bitbop video only comes in standard-definition, and is only available for BlackBerry and Android today.


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