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

One seriously good bargain on a mammoth tablet, plus two handy gadgets for travelers. I'll open my wallet for all three.

The Archos FamilyPad has a 13.3-inch screen and a list price of $299.
The Archos FamilyPad has a 13.3-inch screen and a list price of $299.

LAS VEGAS--So I've pretty much wrapped up my visit to CES 2013, and you know what? I enjoyed it. Most of my fellow bloggers and journalists will tell you it's a crowded, noisy, soul-sucking waste of time with nothing good to see, but I discovered some pretty cool stuff this week.

Stuff I'd actually buy, in fact. And as most of you well know, it takes a lot for me to unshackle my credit card from my wallet. Here are three things I saw at CES that I'm looking forward to owning:

1. Archos FamilyPad
CES is a sea of tablets, most of them hard to distinguish from one another. The Android-powered Archos FamilyPad caught my eye with its ginormous 13.3-inch screen, which means it's not really intended to be conveniently portable, but rather to be something that lives on kitchen counters or sits in laps by the TV. (Heck, it could be the TV.)

I looked, I liked, and then I waited for the bad news. Surely a tablet of this size would cost $500-$600. But guess what? It's $299. That's less than the price of any iPad. Or a 10-inch Google Nexus. The display resolution is perhaps a bit anemic at 1,280x800 pixels, but it does appear to be an IPS screen, and to my eyes it looked pretty dazzling.

My colleague Dave thought I was nuts, but I was totally enamored of the idea of a big ol' "family" tablet, especially one with such an attractive price tag. $299! It ships in February.

Archos actually had a couple other winners on display, including the 8-inch Archos 80 Platinum tablet (also coming in February) for $199 and the 7-inch GamePad tablet for $169. I fiddled with the latter and found it really, really cool.

The ChargeCard is a USB sync cable that fits in your wallet. And it's awesome. ChargeCard

2. ChargeCard
You know how you never have a sync cable when you need one? The ChargeCard solves that problem: just stick it in your wallet.

Made mostly of rubber and almost exactly the size of a credit card, the ChargeCard (originally a Kickstarter project) sports either a Micro-USB connector or a 30-pin iDevice connector and a USB plug on a bendable rubber arm.

You can use it to charge or sync your device or both. The production sample I was given worked like a charm with my iPhone 4S, and rode around all day in my wallet without adding any noticeable bulk.

The ChargeCard is currently backordered for three to four weeks, but you can order one now for $25 -- and save $2 if you're willing to tweet about it.

I hate having to pack along cables everywhere I go. To me, owning a ChargeCard is a no-brainer. Sold.

Digital Innovations

3. Digital Innovations ChargeDr
Solving another iDevice problem, the ChargeDr dongle plugs into a laptop USB port and somehow boosts the amperage so you can charge your iPad (or other tablet).

That's kind of a big deal, as most USB ports can't do more than trickle-charge a tablet battery. I tested the ChargeDr with my iPad 3 and the sucker actually works. And according to Digital Innovations, it'll also speed up tablet charging when used with a wall or car charger. Works with phones, too.

Expect to pay $29.99 when the dongle ships in March.

I was also pretty blown away by Nvidia Grid, which was streaming the PC version of Call of Duty: Black Ops II to an Android tablet (and can do likewise to pretty much any platform), where it looked absolutely stunning. But it's not something you can actually buy at the moment. Could be a (sorry) game-changer down the road, though.

So, yeah, CES was pretty fun this year. Have you seen or read about any other new stuff you're dying to buy?

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