Though new phones rightfully get all the attention at CTIA, the accessories section of the show floor is well worth your attention. There you will find cases and phones purses of all sorts, plastic jewelry that flashes when you get a call, and other obscure products that you never knew existed. Much of it is silly, but once in a while you'll come across truly absurd.
For your consideration I offer the Cell-Mate. After I passed the display while hurrying to a meeting, I actually had to double back to make sure I really saw a row of mannequin heads wearing what looked like a headband. After all, I was at a tech trade show and not in a drag queen's closet so I had to see what was going on.
The Cell-Mate fits over your head much like a receptionist's headset. But instead of having a microphone and earpiece on one end of the wired frame, it has just a circular Velcro pad. See, you're supposed to take one side of the Velcro and attach it to your cell or cordless phone using the adhesive backing. Then, after you affix the Velcro and phone to the Cell-Mate and slip it on your head, you can work or drive hands-free while talking on the phone. Sure, you look completely ludicrous, but that's progress!
Now I know what you're thinking. You're wondering why you'd need the Cell-Mate when you can just get a Bluetooth headset. Well, as is the case with any infomercial-worthy product, Cell-Mate's manufacturer invents problems that you don't have. On the Cell-Mate's packaging, Laser Products promises that "you no longer have to deal with pairing your phone!" and there's "no more charging of your headset!" All right, I admit that the exclamation points are mine, but it was dramatic nonetheless. And I can just imagine an infomercial that features the Cell-Mate. It would open in black and white as a frustrated user can't handle his Bluetooth headset. Then, after our poor technologically tortured soul would fine Cell-Mate, the picture would switch to color as his life would dramatically improve.
The Cell-Mate is $14.99 and should work with any cell phone. At CTIA it was only $5 so I just had to get one. I tried it on and my CNET colleague Maggie Reardon just pointed and laughed. Not only is it ugly, but it's also quite uncomfortable. Granted, I have a large head so it was a tight fit, but my phone pressed against my ear to the point of being painful. And seriously, do you think it's really safe to have a cell phone that close to your head?
And the weird
Spring Wireless' cell phone holder is odd, but I actually see it serving a purpose for some people. When you fit it between your phone charger and wall outlet, it provides a small shelf for resting your handset while it's being powered. It's made of bendable plastic, and is light and compact so you can carry it around.
Though this product also addresses a problem that I never knew I had, I could see myself using it. I sometimes use electrical outlets that aren't near a table or counter so it would save me from resting my phone on the floor. But even that isn't a big deal. You also can wrap your charging cord around the holder's base so you don't trip on any excess wire. The product isn't commercially available yet, so I don't have pricing information.
CTIA Super Mobility Week
reading•The weird and ridiculous at CTIA
Sep 16•This 'smart' wheelchair knows to send repair notices, health alerts
Sep 16•A smart wheelchair means you're never disconnected (pictures)
Sep 15•How Verizon's Go90 ended up as a mobile-only video service
Sep 14•AT&T Mobility chief: Don't get too excited about superfast 5G wireless yet