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The 8 Coolest Things at CES For Music Fans

From what we saw at CES, here's eight cool new gadgets, apps and technology trends sure to be impacting music and entertainment in 2012.

The music industry was all over Las Vegas this week, from Will Smith and Kelly Clarkson at Sony’s presentation, Justin Timberlake’s cameo at MySpace’s TV announcement and Justin Bieber helping Tosy Robotics pitch a new dancing robot, to DJ sets from Will.i.am and Tiesto. From what we saw at CES, here’s eight cool new gadgets, apps and technology trends sure to be impacting music and entertainment in 2012.

1. Intel’s Ultrabook


Will.i.am calls it his new “ghetto blaster,” while Intel CEO Paul Otellini dubbed it “a redefinition of what can be done with the power of computing.” The extra-thin laptop has a super-fast processor and even 3D capabilities, thanks to a new 22 nanometer 3D transmitter Intel issued last year. As Intel’s director of creative innovation, Will.i.am will be taking his Ultrabook around the world with him, recording original songs and videos in 12 different cities in 12 different countries. Stay tuned to the Intel site for streaming updates.

2. Celebrity Headphones

With Beats by Dre set to end their partnership later this year, the celebrity turf war to steal share from the category leader is heating up. Both 50 Cent and Ludacris showed off their new lines at this year’s show, while RZA’s Chambers line also made a booth appearance on the showfloor. Let the games begin!

3. LG’s Smart Home Appliances

If Samsung’s Pandora-equipped refrigerator was the most non-traditional music player of 2011, could a washer-dryer with IHeartRadio be too far off? LG Electronics showcased a new suite of wi-fi appliances that can recommend recipes based on your health condition, send alerts based on food’s expiration date and even program your oven and washing machine from miles away on your LG phone.

4. Tablet Phones

It was bound to happen sooner or later — Samsung was the first major player to debut a combination tablet phone, the Galaxy Note, complete with giant bus ads that cruised all over town. It’s not earning many points for design — alternately smaller than most other tablets and too large to be a subtle phone, it’s the 2012 equivalent to the Zach Morris phone. But as a bellwether for future device consolidation, its long-term implications are substantial.

5. 3-D Music Videos

A nascent trend in 2011 (Foster The People, Ok Go, Jason Derulo and Blue Man Group all debuted 3-D clips for the Nintendo 3DS), 3-D and augmented-reality music videos may catch on in a bigger way in 2012. Several label execs who toured the floor this year were excited by technology from vendors like LG, TCL and Panasonic that could make 3-D video conversion faster and cheaper for the music industry to embrace.

6. Ford Sync AppLink

Move over, Siri. Voice activation is coming to the in-car media dashboard, courtesy of Ford’s new AppLink software that allows you to dial up your favorite Clear Channel station via IHeartRadio or NPR News program via voice command. So if you want to hear “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” during your morning drive, AppLink can find the nearest NPR station playing that week’s episode. Same with your favorite Clear Channel’s station’s call letters.

7. MySpace TV

Though MySpace is still a few months away from an official relaunch under creative director Justin Timberlake, new owners Tim and Chris Vanderhook at Specific Media unveiled a promising new TV app that further demonstrates MySpace’s desire to be a more integrated part of entertainment. Set to launch in Panasonic Viera TVs next month, MySpace TV lets you chat about and vote for music videos in real-time with friends and other users on your mobile device, as well as access exclusive artist material through a Shazam-like song-tagging function compatible with any TV network.

8. Wireless Boomboxes

Could the iPod dock soon go the way of the tape deck? That seemed to be the trend on the CES floor, with docks and auxiliary cords ditched in favor of Bluetooth-enabled wireless music players from Sony, Logitech, and most interestingly, TDK. The former mixtape mavens are banking on a fourth-quarter suite of wireless products to revive the flagging company and regain relevance, having already seeded their products to artists like Snoop Dogg, Matt & Kim and the Beastie Boys.