What I'd actually buy at CES

(MoneyWatch) The Consumer Electronics Show is over; vendors, media, and exhibitors alike have packed up and gone home. I spent all of last week at the show, taking in everything from tablets to robots to Bluetooth-enabled eating utensils. Unfortunately, most of the stuff at any CES -- this year is included -- is less about transformative innovation and more about hype. And some of the "coolest" stuff (like 4K televisions) will be well outside the price range of ordinary folk for years to come. The proof? Ask a journalist: Of all the stuff they see and write about at CES, what would they actually buy with their own money?

Putting my (hypothetical) money where my mouth is, here are the handful of things I saw at CES 2013 that were sufficiently compelling that I'd actually buy with my own cash:

Pebble. This one is a no-brainer, since I've already pre-ordered it with my very own credit card. Pebble is a Bluetooth-enabled smart watch that puts your iPhone's capabilities on your wrist; it displays incoming calls, text messages, and other data on its display. It also lets you control your iPhone's music. And best of all, it runs its own apps, like Runkeeper, making it an excellent physical fitness tool. Pebble was a runaway hit on Kickstarter last year, and the Pebble folks announced at CES that production had finally begun. With luck, I'll have mine in a few weeks. $150.

Liquipel. If you could spend $60 to waterproof your phone -- so even dropping it in the sink wouldn't cause one iota of damage -- you'd do it, right? I certainly would, which is why I am planning to treat my iPhone with Liquipel's almost magical finish. Your phone can survive being completely submerged; even the ports and speaker are unaffected. And the finish is invisible, so it doesn't mar the appearance of your phone.

Stick-n-Find. It has a goofy name, but each $50 Stick-n-Find package contains a pair of small coin-sized Bluetooth transceivers. Stick them on your car keys, TV remote, or pet collar and then use a radar-like display on your smartphone to find your misplaced item. You can also configure Stick-n-Find to alarm you if your item goes outside the 100-foot range, or enters the 100-foot range from elsewhere.

YubiKey. I'm a big fan of two-factor authentication (in which you need to prove who you are with a second authentication, such as a one-time key from your phone, for online security. YubiKey brings that level of confidence to all of your online transactions via a USB device that plugs into your PC. It's only $25, though there's also a $50 version that works with NFC phones.

iSmartAlarm. I've been considering signing up for a home monitoring and alarm service, but I don't like the idea of spending $30 or $40 for the privilege. iSMartAlarm lets you do the monitoring yourself, so there's no monthly fee. Buy the basic kit for $250 and your house will notify you via your phone if an intruder triggers the motion detectors or door alarms. It'll even email you a picture from the wireless camera, so you have photographic evidence of the perp to share with the police.

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