CES 2014: My favorite gadgets and services from the show

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CES 2014 is essentially over. While iFans didn’t offer live coverage of the event this year, I was watching as various other technology sites explored what the show had to offer. I’ve picked my top three gadgets from the show.

The first is the Pebble Steel. The first mainstream smartwatch is now, arguably, the best-designed smartwatch. Read on!

Pebble Steel

Pebble made waves last year when it launched its smartwatch. In many ways — including battery life and simplicity of use — Pebble’s product remains the best of its category. At CES 2014, the company took to the stage to announce the Pebble Steel.

The Steel features an attractive, metallic design that sheds the previous model’s awkward plastic shell. The internals remain the same, but the device is definitely a step up in most ways. The software of the device will also see an update later this month with the release of Pebble OS 2.0. In that update, Pebble will also unveil its own first-party App Store for the watch.

The Pebble Steel will be available for $249 come January 28th.

PlayStation Now

I’ve got a confession to make: I’m something of a PlayStation fanboy. One of my favorite features of the (original) PS3 was its ability to play PlayStation 2 games. I was upset when the PlayStation 4 was announced without the ability to play any of my PlayStation 3 games — after all, games likeĀ Uncharted andĀ The Last of Us don’t deserve to sit on a shelf after a console generation ends.

PlayStation Now looks like it may become the Netflix of gaming. Based on the Gaikai streaming technology, it makes PlayStation games available on a host of Sony-approved devices, including the PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and even certain Bravia TVs. What’s even more impressive is that the service appears to work, and work almost flawlessly.

Look for the service to roll out this summer.

Steam Machines

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Continuing with the gaming streak — I promise, CES isn’t a game show, but it seems like some of the best announcements are related to games — Valve made some impressive strides with its Steam Machine initiative. I’m still not entirely convinced on this concept, but the fact that it continues to pick up traction among the industry is promising.

The Steam Machine concept is a challenge to both traditional gaming PCs and the entrenched consoles. With any luck, we’ll see increased competition thanks to Valve’s rollout.

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