The Gadget Zone: Picks from the 2011 Electronics Show in Las Vegas

Here are three hot ideas to help you ward off the chill

By James Careless –

Welcome to the Gadget Zone, here in the midst of a Canadian winter. Here are three hot ideas to help you ward off the chill.

The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has just wrapped up in Las Vegas, and some exciting new products were unveiled. One of the more sexy computers that turned up was the Lenovo IdeaCentre B520. This is an all-in-one (AIO) computer with a built-in touchscreen for use as a workstation and home entertainment centre. The B520 has a 23 inch Full HD display (Nvidia 3D Vision is available as an option), SRS Premium Sound audio enhancement and an optional 3-in-1 mouse with motion-drive gaming and air-mouse functionality. Despite the fact that its hardware is packed into the monitor case, this computer is equipped with the latest 2nd Generation Intel Core  i7 processor. The IdeaCentre B520 is slated for commercial release later this year with a list price of $899. Watch for it at

If you ever wanted to draw something into your PC – or send a handwritten note by e-mail – then you should consider the SuperPen Graphics Tablet. This is a computer-connectable plastic surface with electronic pen that lets you write or draw whatever you want, and then have that data put directly into your PC. You can also use the pressure-sensitive pen to perform standard mouse functions, browse the Web, or open documents and folders. The pen is sensitive to 512 different levels of pressure, which makes it useful for artists. US$49.99 at

Finally, does your laptop computer have a scratched lid that you’d love to hide? Or perhaps it is fine, but you’d like to use the space for something more visually interesting, such as a family photo? In both cases, Schtickers can come to the rescue. Schtickers offers reusable laptop, iPod, iPad and phone ‘skins’ that you can put on and peel off as need be. They make these using a wide range of images — including classic paintings, photos, and urban art. Schtickers also offers wood veneer skins, or you can send in your own photo and have one custom-made to fit your device. (I immortalized our cat Tagger – icon of my wife’s swimsuit company – as he slept in a box of fabric remnants.) Prices vary; check for details.

James Careless is a veteran consumer tech reporter, whose stories have been seen in the National Post, Globe and Mail, and Toronto Star.