Three things I saw at CES 2014 I'd actually buy

You know the Cheapskate doesn't like to spend money on anything. For these products, I'll open my wallet.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
3 min read

LAS VEGAS -- Well, that's a wrap for me here at CES 2014. It's only because I miss Mrs. Cheapskate and the little Cheapskates that I'm willing to return to the frozen tundra that is Michigan. (Got that, family? I hope you're happy!)

A few quick takeaways: Curved TVs are a joke. 4K TVs may finally gain some traction in 2014, but they're hardly the sea change that was the transition from SD to HD. And product manufacturers want to cram Bluetooth into everything, from spoons to hearing aids to -- I kid you not -- toothbrushes. Make it stop.

Needless to say, I visit CES with an eye toward cheap (or at least affordable) stuff, and I found some interesting items I'm looking forward to seeing this year. (Chief among them: the JamStik, which isn't cheap but is very, very cool.)

With that in mind, I give you the three things I saw at CES that I'd actually buy:

1. Channel Master DVR+

After a few swings and misses, Channel Master finally mastered the over-the-air DVR. Stocked with two tuners and a very attractive UI, this slender box lets you record locally broadcast shows without paying a monthly fee. (You supply the antenna -- and the hard drive, which is partially a plus because you get to pick the size, capacity, and so on.)

This is a fantastic solution for people like my mother-in-law, who don't have cable but can watch live broadcasts just fine. I'm not wild about the box's $249.99 price tag (which includes only two hours' worth of storage, so you're also on the hook for the aforementioned hard drive), but there's no question this is currently the only antenna-powered DVR that gets it right.

The 3Doodler is arguably the most 3D fun you can have for $99.
The 3Doodler is arguably the most 3D fun you can have for $99. Dave Johnson

2. 3Doodler

Think 3D printers aren't affordable? Think again. Though not a printer in the traditional sense, the 3Doodler does let you create physical objects using colorful plastic "ink" sticks. It's like a hot-glue gun crossed with a soldering iron: the melted plastic emerges from the tip, allowing you to "draw" objects.

You can check out CNET's preview of the 3Doodler from its Kickstarter origin. In the meantime, you'll be happy to hear that it's shipping very soon, and for the impulse-buy price of just $99.

Duracell Powermat's wireless charging dongle will be available for under $10.
Duracell Powermat's wireless charging dongle will be available for under $10. Rick Broida/CNET

3. Duracell Powermat dongle

I love the concept of wireless charging, just not the execution: Typically it means holstering my phone in a special (often bulky) case, then relying on special (and pricey) charging pads.

Duracell is working with Starbucks to combine wireless power with your daily latte. Just connect a little ring-shaped dongle to your phone's power connector, then lay it down on one of the table-embedded charging stations at your local Starbucks.

Granted this doesn't fully solve the issues with wireless charging, but I love the simplicity and affordability of this solution. The dongle itself will cost only a few bucks, according to Duracell Powermat's head honcho. So I can see buying several and keeping them in my car, bag, pocket, etc. Read more about it in my CES report.

OK, gotta catch my flight. Back tomorrow with some real deals for your buying pleasure.

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