Six eye-catching things from CTIA 2013

We round up our favorite tech news and toys to come out of this week's all-mobile show.

Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez launched a mobile phone store that caters specifically to Latinos. Marguerite Reardon/CNET

LAS VEGAS -- When it comes to emerging tech, crazy accessories, and carrier news, you can always count on a mobile conference to deliver.

CTIA 2013 was a much quieter show than in years past, with the biggest carriers and manufacturers largely opting out to focus on their own launch events.

While this confab felt the brunt of companies' shifting strategies, the absence of the brightest stars meant that we had time to scope out other finds that would usually be drowned out in the din.

Future shows are expected to regain CTIA's breakneck pace and vigor. A move to a fall "supershow" in 2014 promises to bring back the mobile product-palooza just in time for the holidays. Fall 2014 is a long way off, so in the meantime, we present you with the most interesting products and announcements from this week's all-mobile get-together.


1. Viva Movil cell phone stores
We all hoped Verizon would announce its version of the HTC One during its CTIA press event. Instead, the carrier shocked by announcing an initiative with superstar Jennifer Lopez: Viva Movil .

Essentially a chain of mobile retail stores aimed at the U.S.' Spanish-speaking demographic, Viva Movil stores will exclusively sell Verizon phones and service. Lopez, who is Viva Movil's chief creative officer, also holds the majority stake.

Read more about Viva Movil . Catch CNET's interview with Jennifer Lopez .

Jennifer Lopez and Verizon Wireless team up for Viva Movil, launching this June in New York. CNET/Kent German


2. Kevo electronic door lock
It's hard to overstate the cool factor of Kwikset's Kevo electronic locks for your home's front door. The power of Bluetooth stands behind the nearly keyless entry, which requires just a smartphone app and the touch of your finger to secure and gain entry to your residence.

Military-grade security layers help manage the app's security, and immediately wipe and deny entry in the event of a misplaced or stolen phone.

Read more about the Kevo electronic lock here .

Kwikset Kevo
As soon as this summer, locking your front door when you leave the house could happen in a tap. Jessica Dolcourt/CNET


3. Damson Audio Pearl speakers
We've seen countless wireless Bluetooth speakers over the years, but none quite like the Damson Audio Pearl .

For $199, the Pearl produces quite a bit of volume despite its small size. The gadget uses unique down-firing woofers to reflect sound off of tables and other hard surfaces. A silicone pad coats the speaker's foot to ensure that the device stays put.

Even more interesting is that the Pearl consists of two separate units that handle left and right channels for wireless stereo. The product also can function as a speakerphone when connected to handsets and pairs easily using NFC technology.

Read more about Damson Audio's Pearl speakers here .

Damson Audio Pearl
Damson's Bluetooth Pearl speakers stand out from the crowd. Brian Bennett/CNET


4. Ericsson's 'smart window'
Ericsson has taken the saying "window of opportunity" to new levels. At CTIA, the company highlighted two novel approaches to integrating mobile technology into your everyday window pane.

One demonstration embeds a cellular antenna inside a glass, which can increase reception inside buildings and trains -- potentially turning a dull offline morning commute into a more productive trip. Ericsson also decked out a window with IR sensors around its edges. With these sensors, users can swipe and tap the window to carry out tasks like switching on a light bulb or turning down music.

Though these "smart windows" won't come to market anytime soon, Ericsson is scoping out companies to license out this useful, future-thinking technology.

Read more about smart windows here .

Ericsson's "smart window" has a transparent antenna built in, which conveys superior indoor coverage. Roger Cheng/CNET


5. Kyocera Hydro XTRM
Kyocera doubled down on its successful waterproof smartphone from last year, and announced the Hydro XTRM . ("Extreme," get it?)

Available through U.S. Cellular, the XTRM features a welcome boost in specs compared with the original Hydro . Not only does the XTRM ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, it also features a 5-megapixel camera and Smart Sonic Receiver .

Yet the XTRM's main draw is its shockproof durability, and the fact that it can stay underwater at a meter's depth for up to 30 minutes.

Read more about the Kyocera Hydro XTRM .

Kyocera Hydro XTRM (U.S. Cellular)
Kyocera's waterproof Hydro XTRM for Sprint can handle a major dunking. Lynn La/CNET


6. ZAGGkeys iPad Mini keyboard cases
Case maker ZAGG announced a pair of impressive enclosures for the iPad Mini. Like their counterparts for the full-size iPad , the ZAGGkeys Cover and Folio add a physical keyboard to Apple's popular tiny tablet.

Both priced at $99.99, the Folio accepts the iPad Mini by clicking into a hinge, while the Cover actually encloses the tablet for greater protection. Another interesting twist is that the keyboard is backlit and offers seven lighting options to choose from. Although ZAGG is just shrinking its existing design for the smaller iPad, it's a relatively affordable and usable design for a mass-market product.

ZAGGkeys
Zagg introduced finger-friendly keyboard cases for the iPad Mini. Brian Bennett/CNET

Catch all the latest news from CTIA 2013.

Read the full CNET Review

Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth Door Lock

The Bottom Line: If you've got a compatible smartphone, you'll enjoy this smart lock, but if you're looking for high security, look elsewhere. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Kyocera Hydro XTRM

The Bottom Line: If waterproof capabilities are an absolute must, consider the Kyocera Hydro XTRM. If not, skip this for some better alternatives. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

ZAGG ZAGGkeys PROfolio+ - keyboard and folio case

The Bottom Line: The backlit keyboard on the ProFolio+ might be worth the investment for some frequent travelers who've been feeling left in the dark. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Damson Pearl

For the first time in the U.S., the new Damson Pearl and Oyster wireless speakers wash ashore on American soil at CTIA 2013. The Pearl is especially compact, but boy does it pack an audio punch. / Read full review

About the author

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.

Brian Bennett is senior editor for mobile phones at CNET and reviews a wide range of mobile communication products. These include smartphones and their myriad accessories. He has more than 12 years of experience in technology journalism and has put practically anything fun with a micro chip through its paces at some point.

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.

 

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