The Coolest and Weirdest Gadgets of January
It seems like just yesterday that we were decking the halls and then stumbling through them after long nights partying on New Year’s Eve. But it’s somehow now February already, and if January feels like a complete blur, we’ve rounded up the most interesting and most curious gadgets of the past month so you can catch up.
From CES reveals to E Ink goggles to several different ways to address the Switch’s ongoing Joy-Con drift issues, January brought with its lots of gadget news, and a look ahead about how you’ll be blowing your budget moving into 2023.
Yawman Arrow Flight Sim Controller
Flight simulators are best enjoyed with a desk covered in joysticks, pedals, throttle controllers, and other accessories that can make virtual flying a pricy hobby. The Yawman Flight is an attempt to boil down all that hardware into a single controller with exotic-looking buttons and levers that’s more affordable and more portable. But we won’t know the actual price until pre-orders officially start in the Spring.
GuliKit Hall-Sensing Joystick Upgrade Kit for Switch
Decades from now, the Nintendo Switch will be as remembered for games like Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Breath of the Wild as it will be for “Joy-Con drift.” If you’re still experiencing frustrating hardware failures, GuliKit is now selling a $30 upgrade kit that replaces the stock joysticks on Switch Joy-Cons with magnetic hall effect joysticks that should never fail or drift.
Nova H1 Wireless Earbuds
If you stop and think about how often you’ve got a pair of wireless buds in your ears during the day, the Nova H1 start to make a little more sense. They’re wireless earbuds disguised as pearl earrings, with real pearls, and a speaker design that sits just outside the ear so you can still hear conversations and ambient noise while wearing them. They balance form and function, but at $640 for the silver version and $750 for the gold one, they’re far from cheap.
Atari Gamestation Plus
There have been several attempts to revive the classic Atari console so modern gamers can enjoy its library of retro games, but most of them have been fraught with delays and drama. The Gamestation Plus could have a better shot at finding its way into living rooms, as it’s being developed by My Arcade, a company with a solid track record of resurrecting extinct gaming hardware. Our only concern with the beautiful hardware that’s been teased is how much it will cost, and if it will include paddle controls, too, which many of the Atari’s most memorable games rely on.
For those who struggle to hold an e-reader up long enough to read a book comes the Sol Reader: an e-reader you can wear on your face in the form of glasses equipped with E Ink displays. They weigh less than 100 grams, so they should be comfortable to wear, and will include a wireless handheld remote for page turns so users don’t have to keep reaching up to the glasses. The limited resolution of E Ink displays has us worried about how pixelated text is going to look through these, as does the Sol Reader’s price tag, which is expected to be around $350.
Detroit Bikes DB-E Ebike
It’s usually easy to spot someone riding an electric bike. Their speed doesn’t match their pedalling, and the bike itself will either have a chonky frame or a beefy battery strapped to the down tube. That’s not the case with the Detroit Bikes DB-E. Its 250-watt electric motor and battery are hidden in the hub of the rear wheel and can push the bike to a top speed of 15.5 MPH with a range of up to 35 miles on power-saving mode (or closer to 20 miles at full power).
Custom Raspberry Pi Retro TV Gaming Console
If you’re going to turn a Raspberry Pi into a retro gaming machine, why not do it in style? That’s what Reddit’s mr_deelee has done with a custom-designed 3D-printed enclosure for a tiny 3.5-inch LCD screen and a Raspberry Pi 3b that makes the final product look like a miniature Toshiba Blackstripe TV. It can even connect to a wireless gamepad over Bluetooth, although for maximum authenticity, a wired controller you can accidentally trip over is the better way to go.
Kano Stem Projector
After things went south with Ye, the artist formerly known as Kanye West, we assumed that Kano would be trying to bury its $200 Stem Player, which was once the only way to buy Ye’s Donda 2 album. But not only is Kano pushing ahead with the device, which now includes music from the Wu-Tang Clan’s Ghostface Killah, the company is also releasing a new $600 interactive Stem Projector with 256GB of built-in storage and just 150 ANSI lumens of brightness.
NYXI Wizard Wireless Joy-pad
January actually brought us several different ways to deal with the Nintendo Switch’s ‘Joy-Con drift’, including the NYXI Wizard. It can either be used as a standalone wireless controller or connected directly to the Switch itself to replace a pair of faulty Joy-Cons. There are two big reasons to choose the $69 NYXI Wizard over other solutions: its joysticks use magnetic Hall Effect sensors so they’ll never experience drift, and it features a button design and layout borrowed from the revered GameCube controller.
The World’s Fastest RC Battery-Powered Drone
Blink and you’ll miss Ryan Lademann’s custom built XLR V3 drone whizzing by. Lademann now holds the Guinness World Record for “Fastest ground speed by a battery-powered remote-controlled (RC) quadcopter” by piloting their XLR V3 drone over the deserts of Arizona across two runs averaged together for an official top speed of 224 MPH. In the right conditions, the drone has actually managed to hit a top speed of an incredible 235.68 MPH, but it’s not officially recognized by Guinness.
Canon Single-Shot HDR Sensor
Although Sony seems to be the dominant name in digital imaging now, Canon proves the company can still innovate with a reveal of a radical new sensor that makes capturing high-dynamic range images an easy one-shot affair. Instead of combining multiple images captured with different exposures, this one-inch, 12.6MP sensor is broken up into 736 different regions, which can each be programmed with a custom exposure so everything in frame comes out perfectly lit. It was initially designed for use in more industrial applications like security cameras, but it’s an innovation that would help make photography even more accessible to the average consumer.
Doom-Playing Spinning Holographic Christmas Tree
Sean Hodgins both wowed and terrified us over the holidays by building a spinning persistence-of-vision LED Christmas tree, but instead of tossing it to the curb afterwards, as is the fate with many trees, he re-purposed it as yet another weird way to play the classic first-person shooter, Doom.
January also brought with it a strong return for the annual Consumer Electronics Show, and we were there in person, experiencing all of the latest and greatest devices revealed by thousands of company at the show. If you missed our coverage (New Year’s Eve can take quite the toll on some people) you can find our best of CES 2023 roundup right here.
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