Nerds have a particularly good reason to welcome the new year: It means the arrival of CES, the annual, large and historically inconsistent consumer electronics show that shoves a magnificent percentage of fun gadget stuff into 50 football fields’ worth of prime Vegas real estate. It features both the most exciting tech coming down the pike in 2018, and zero women in keynote address positions! And since CES is an awful lot to take in at once — frankly, many of us here at The Loop could kill an afternoon playing with robot vacuums alone — we have thoughtfully assembled this list of gadgets you must purchase if you hope to give your life meaning in 2018, once, of course, you find a 13-year-old to help you turn them on.
"Quote-Fingers" Wireless Chargers That Charge Things With Wires: Thanks to the dawn of wireless charging on the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, CES is lousy with wireless chargers that are compatible with the Qi charging standard found on Apple, Samsung and LG phones, among others. Wireless charging, as we have discussed, is “wireless” in the sense that you place your phone on a pad that’s connected to a wire, but it looks way cooler, and the end of the cord doesn’t keep FALLING BEHIND THE GOD DAMN DESK EVERY TIME, so much so that you basically put a lamp on it to keep it in place. The new chargers look like appealing little discs, so the main story at CES is flat black pancakes that charge your phone.
The Robot Dog That Might Be Prohibitively Expensive But Makes Up For It By Being Also Horrifying: Wait, you’re saying, are we talking about that thing that was $150 at Radio Shack at the Southlake Mall in 1991, and you passed it on your way to Orange Julius wondering who in the hell would pay $150 for a robot dog, and who in the hell would spend $150 at a Radio Shack? Yes! That very thing! Sony’s Aibo dog, which basically looks like a replicant Snoopy with excess fat rolls, is equipped with an “artificial intelligence boost.” This is a good idea as my former actual dog, with her actual natural intelligence, once looked at a box of 12 full-sized chocolate Santas and thought, “Now there’s something I need to eat.” Aibo can recognize and respond to multiple family members, and is connected to The Cloud, which means the Russians can spy on you from a slightly lower vantage point. It’s $1,700 to buy, but only costs $25 per month to operate.
The Slightly Less Creepy Yet Incontrovertibly Cheaper Cat Version: Put off by a nearly $2,000 price tag for a dog that looks like a Stormtrooper and isn’t an actual dog? Try the Qoobo, which is the same idea, except it’s a cat and everyone sounds stupid saying it out loud. (If Scrabble ever makes that an accepted word though, look out, world.) Qoobo is only $100, and it purrs and wags it tail when petted, much like an actual free cat at the Humane Society, which would really like you to come visit today.
Helmet-Free Virtual Alien Battles: I have literally angled my screen so my sons can’t see what I’m typing, because Merge VR introduced a Nerf-like toy gun that is used as part of a sort-of VR alien-battle game. It’s called the Merge 6DoF Blaster, and it contains a slot into which you slide an iPhone, fire up an app and promptly begin battling evil aliens — without VR goggles. It’s immersive without needing a helmet, and part of a new-ish nerd term called “six degrees of freedom,” which basically means you play a VR game while still being able to move and look around you. I would make a joke here, but I need to advance-order this thing.
The Wine Opener That Costs $999.61 More Than Your Current One: Behold the Coravin Wine Preservation Opener, a device which can free wine from a bottle WITHOUT REMOVING THE CORK. (Previously, wine aficionados were only able to do this by smashing the bottle against a marble countertop, which negatively impacted the presentation and generally cut off some fingers.) The most expensivest edition costs $999, though it does offer a Bluetooth function that will tell you how much wine you have consumed, and how much is left in a bottle. Alternately, you can open a bottle with a 39-cent corkscrew you find at the Walgreens next to the Mounds bars, and you can tell how much wine is left in a bottle by using your eyes.
The Fanciest Peeing on Earth: Kohler’s Numi toilet is connected to the Internet. It will flush for you, lift the seat for you, and arrange your preferred spray-bidet configuration for you. It also plays music, so you can hum along to Toad the Wet Sprocket while congratulating yourself on paying $5,625 to poop fancy.
A Buddy With Whom You Can Not Have to Bother With Real Emotional Connections: Buddy is a robot who is cute, and obviously no robots who are cute can be bad. Buddy the Cute Robot buddy is basically Alexa or Siri but with a face, a cute face, a big-eyed face, a face that says “I am here to tell you the weather and remind you to buy butter and definitely not send your purchasing habits back to some enormous data-gathering server in the Ukraine.” Buddy is connected to Google Assistant and basically walks around the house with you, playing music, answering questions, performing math calculations and dancing on command. It’s touted as the entry-step into the Robot Revolution, a way to match smart-home technology with our apparently boundless need to require cute faces and names for everything. Frankly, it looks like it’s secretly plotting to murder you in your sleep. On the plus side, maybe it’ll take out the Aibo.