Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular 2021
Article by Angie Kibiloski
This last year and a half has seen many event companies, who normally hold in-person exhibitions, have to transition to a virtual venue to continue holding them. Pepcom is one such company who has excelled in making that pivot, while still bringing together a wide variety of tech companies to showcase their newest products, all in a user-friendly online environment. Their latest event was held today, Holiday Spectacular 2021, which featured 30 companies across many tech lanes. I’ll be highlighting 10 products in this article, twice the amount I usually do with an event this size, briefly introducing you to each, with the hope of bringing you full reviews in the future.
We’ll start out with Philips, and their great looking Fidelio L3 Over-Ear Active Noise Canceling Headphones ($349.99). These EISA award winners feature stunning, high-performance audio, fantastic active noise cancellation, and passive noise isolation, along with luxury materials and a comfortable fit for extended wear. This headset has Bluetooth 5.0, touch controls, and voice control via Google Assistant. The battery life is great, with 30-35 hours of playtime, and a very quick 15-minute partial charge time, if you need a small 6-hour top-up. Phillips also showcased a similar model, the H9505 Over-Ear ANC Headphones ($249.99), which have a slightly shorter battery life, at 27 hours, with lighter build materials than it’s higher-end cousin. Both models will satisfy, giving you that great Philips audio quality, and attractive design that you’ve come to expect from the company.
Let’s stay in the audio realm with Shure, and their MV7X Podcast Microphone ($179). This is a paired-down version of the MV7 ($249) that came out last year, which is itself a descendant of the super-popular SM7B ($399), used by audio professionals worldwide. The lower price point makes the MV7X perfect for the podcaster, streamer, or musician on a budget, especially if you’re needing a multi-mic set-up. It’s an XLR-connected dynamic microphone, with cardioid pick-up and voice isolation. The voice isolation feature means that you can clearly record sound in your bedroom or home office, without needing to be worried about the lawnmower outside drowning out your voice. Being designed to focus on you voice instead of room noise, you’ll be able to get a clean recording whether you’re speaking to a guest on a podcast, or belting out a tune for your next track. You will need an audio interface, because unlike the MV7, it doesn’t have USB connectivity, so if you don’t own one of those already, you might consider going ahead and stepping up to the MV7.
From audio to video, let’s check out Jabra, and their new PanaCast 20, an AI-enable personal video conferencing camera. This is a 13 MP camera, with 30 fps, producing a sharp, 4K Ultra-HD image, with powerful processors for low latency. The AI-driven intelligent zoom can follow your movements, to keep you centered in the frame, allowing you to move around naturally, instead of being rooted to one spot. The intelligent lighting optimization automatically adjusts the video exposure, so no matter how your environmental light changes, you’ll maintain high image quality. It has a privacy cover, to easily switch the video feed off and on, and can integrate seamlessly with other Jabra products, like their audio lines of speakers and headsets. Setting it up is easy, by simply clipping it to the top of your computer screen (or onto a tripod if you prefer), plugging it in via USB, and turning it on. This product is coming soon, so no price point yet to share.
Let’s side-step a little bit to data storage, with OWC and their Envoy Pro Elektron, a CES 2021 Innovation Awards Honoree. It’s a small, USB-C bus-powered, portable SSD, with a transfer rate of up to 1011MB/sec, and works with Mac, PC, iPad, Chromebook, and Android tablets. This palm-sized device will efficiently, and securely, backup and store all of your data, at home or on-the-go. The device, which is about half the size of your standard smartphone, is housed in aircraft-grade aluminum, making it both cool-running, and durable for travelling, and IP67-rated, so it can withstand even dusty or wet environments. Don’t worry about the security of your data, this device is compatible with both MacOS and Windows encryption. There are a range of storage capacities and prices, from the smallest 240 GB ($99) to the largest 2 TB ($399), to suit the needs of any casual consumer or audio-visual professional. There are a lot of portable SSD solutions out there on the market, but OWC is a trusted name, and won’t steer you wrong.
How about another desktop accessory? Epson showcased the next generation of their huge line of EcoTank Cartridge-Free Printers, available in a wide variety of models to suit all of your home and office printing needs. Each of their models features their major selling point, which is the elimination of expensive, landfill-clogging cartridges, and replacing them with a supply of liquid ink in easy-to-use squirt bottles, which you just stick into the top of the ink-reservoirs, and fill as needed. Buying ink this way will save you about 90% off traditional cartridges, and is much better for the environment. The ink replacement method is not the only thing that makes these printer worth the purchase, however. They also feature heat-free printhead technology, which produces sharp text and precise color, high-res flatbed scanners, voice-activated printing, wireless connectivity, and a convenient mobile app for printing from your phone or tablet. The various models range in prices, starting with the EcoTank ET-2800 ($249.99) up to the EcoTank ET-4850 ($499.99).
We’ve got your desk all sorted out, now what about the rest of the house? Neato Robotics has launched their newest line of robotic home vacuums, that are easy to setup, durable, and suited to all home sizes and layouts. The Neato D8, D9, or D10, along with the companion MyNeato app, will be your new best friend for keeping your floors free of dust and debris. They retain the D shape that Neato is know for, allowing them to get right into the corners of your room, a wide, powerful, rotating brush to pick up dirt from all types of surfaces, and a large dust reservoir, so they can suck up more debris before needing to be emptied. The differences in the models seem to be battery life and the type and level of filtration. The Neato D8 has a 100-minute runtime between charges, and will return to its docking station to recharge before venturing out again if it has more work to be done. It has a high-performance filter to trap up to 99% of allergens. The D9 has up to 120 minutes of runtime, and an Ultra-Performance HEPA-style filter, to capture 99.5% of dust and allergens. The D10 has a huge 150-minute runtime, with a True HEPA filter, capturing 99.7% of allergens down to as small as 0.3 microns. You can get the D8 today for $399.99, and the other 2 models will hit retail later this Fall.
Allergens aren’t the only contaminant we need to look out for in our homes, there’s also carbon monoxide. The new SMART Smoke + Carbon Monoxide Alarm, from Kidde, will help you keep your family protected from these dangers. This 2-in-1 alarm is Wi-Fi enabled, and integrated into the Kidde app, for easy monitoring, notification, and control. The device can also work with your other Kidde devices, for a fully interconnected home. It can be voice controlled, and set to use voice messages as alarms, like “Fire” or “Warning” instead of simply a tone like other smoke detectors. The connected app will notify you when a device’s battery needs to be replaced, if smoke or carbon monoxide are detected in your home, and can alert your friends and family as well, if you choose that feature. This new SMART model doesn’t seem to be on their website yet, but while you’re waiting for it to be released, you can check out their previous models of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
If you’re looking for protection in the outdoor areas of your home, check out Thermacell‘s LIV Smart Mosquito Repellent System. Are you sick of burning candles and tiki torches that could get knocked over, or covering yourself with sticky, toxic bug sprays? Thermacell frees you from those, while providing you with long-lasting protection for your whole outdoor space. Each set of devices comes with a smart hub, repeller devices, mounts, power cables, and ground stakes, with a variety of sets containing different numbers of each, depending on the square footage of your outdoor area. Each repeller device covers a 315 sq. ft. space. Each heat-activated repeller unit contains a formula cartridge that is scent-free and safe for kids and animals, and will last for 100 hours before needing to be replaced. The repellers connect remotely to the smart hub, which is controlled through the LIV+ app. In the app, you can set a schedule for the devices to activate, set alerts for when the repellant cartridge is getting low, and set up voice control through Alexa or Google Home. The starter kit with 3 each of the repeller devices and other hardware is $699, the next step up with 4 of each item is $799, and for extra large outdoor spaces, the kit with 5 of each item is $899. These won’t be on the wide market until February 2022, but you can pre-order now, and check out the previous mosquito repelling devices that Thermacell has to offer in the meantime.
Let’s get out of the house for a bit, and look at the new Cat S62, from CAT Phones, a rugged smartphone for people who work in extreme environments, and need their mobile devices to withstand quite a bit more than the average consumer. This ultra durable device has passed military standards with its ability to withstand extreme temperatures, vibration, and drops up to 6 ft., with its non-slip, rubberized TPU back, and 5.7″ Gorilla Glass screen. It’s resistant to sand, dust, dirt, bleach, and alcohol, fully water resistant, and submersible in up to 5 ft. of water for 35 minutes. This means you can wash it with soap and water when you come home, for easy sanitation. The screen is super bright, ideal for outdoor work environments, and can be used even with wet or gloved hands. The S62 doesn’t skimp on the tech inside, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Octacore 2.2GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM, 128 GB of expandable storage, a 48 MP rear camera, 8 MP front camera, a 4,000 mAh battery compatible with wireless charging, and Android 10, with an upgrade to Android 11 coming soon. The S62 is available for $498, exclusively to T-Mobile customers.
Finally, when you’re out and about, you always want to protect your eyes with some stylish shades. What could be better than sunglasses that were smart as well as stylish? Ampere exhibited their 1st smart sunglasses, the new Dusk ($295) and Dusk Lite ($195) frames. They have app-controlled electrochromic lenses, allowing you to adjust the tint, so you’ll be ready for all light levels. You can even set preferences for different settings, and when away from your phone, you can still switch between 3 tint levels with touch control on the frame itself. The polarized lenses block 100% of UVA/UVB rays, and the waterproof, matte-black frames are light-weight and stylish. The frames have even more tech, with hidden built-in speakers and microphone, for making calls, listening to music, or using your voice assistant. They come with a rechargeable carrying case, with a compartment for the Apple AirTag, in case your glasses go missing and you need to track them down. If you do not need the audio features, the Dusk Lite frames are a less expensive option, with the same app controlled lenses. You can pick these up on pre-sale now, with a shipping date sometime in November.
As you can see, there was a lot of cool technology to discover at Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular 2021! I enjoyed learning about these products, and I hope to bring you full reviews of many of them, once I can get my hands on them in person. If any of them sounded interesting you, follow the links within each product’s paragraph to learn more, and maybe even make a purchase.