My 5 Favorite Gadgets at CeBIT

Opinion: Here are some hidden gems I found at the show.

With more than 280,000 square meters of display space and more than 20 exhibition halls, one can easily drown in the information ocean that is CeBIT, the bi-annual communications, electronics, and IT conference and exposition. Here are some gadgets I found that others may have missed.

Mobility personified

Providing a seamless mobility experience for those with physical challenges, this variation of the Toyota NLSV concept vehicle incorporates a wheelchair in a quasi-symbiotic relationship. The electric wheelchair is the drivers seat when the vehicle is in motion, then is deployed on a powered robotic arm to the curb where wheels extend and provide the vehicle owner with sidewalk mobility. When the user returns, the arm picks the wheelchair back up and returns it, wheels retracted, to its role as the drivers seat.

Self-powered USB hub

Its very easy to have several USB devices that require power plugged into your computer at any given time, and non-power hubs always seem to come up short. A powered USB hub is the answer, but the accompanying wall-wart and cable are a pain to deal with. Enter the battery-powered 4-port USB hub from CyberPower Systems. This device is not only great for driving power-hungry USB devices like a Webcam, photo scanner, or external pocket drive, it also extends the battery life of your laptop when using simple things like an external mouse.

Intelligent 2-port charger

When I travel, in addition to my laptop supply I usually carry three to four other power supplies for my various gadgets. Some laptop chargers include an auxiliary power output for additional devices, but these usually provide only outlet relief as you still need a power adaptor for the device itself. The Vegavolt D-421 is an intelligent charger with two independent outputs that can power any two devices independently, providing the exact voltage and current required.

The charger actively queries the devices attached to it, showing the separate product IDs on its screen. This means that you only need one charger and a plug adapter for each device and can leave the rest of it at home. (Since it can accept 100~240 Vac or 12 Vdc, it can use the wall socket, car jack, or even that output port on your aftermarket laptop supply.)

Laptop PCMCIA-card mouse

I hate using the "eraserhead" in the middle of a laptop keyboard, and touchpads are only a slightly better compromise. Using Bluetooth to communicate with your computer, the MoGo card mouse fits in its PCMCIA slot for charging, stored away until needed. A USB "wart" will soon be available to allow you to use the mouse with non-Bluetooth computers without compromising the MoGo mouses space-saving advantages.


SanDisk laptop solid-state drive

Intended to replace platter-based hard drives in laptops, a 2GB 2.5-inch Serial ATA solid-state drive by SanDisk makes the durability, speed, and low power consumption of solid-state flash memory available now to notebook computers. A drop-in replacement for the standard 2.5-inch drive in current laptops, the drive can also be retrofitted into existing computers. In addition to a power consumption of less than a watt in operation, no moving parts, and a random read rate of 7,000 IOPS for a 513-byte transfer (boot Vista in 30 seconds!), the solid-state drive is also completely silent.

Alix Paultre is a journalist and futurist. You can read more by him at


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