The humble thermostat is getting a 21st-century makeover. And so is the boombox, thanks to a son of the late reggae legend Bob Marley.
The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show doesn't start in earnest until Monday, but at a gadget preview event Sunday, some electronics startups seemed determined to give redemption to ordinary appliances, and not just those from children of the Rastafarian movement.
In a packed hotel ballroom, companies demonstrated portable televisions, plastic guitars, stoves and solar-powered e-reader cases.
Here are five of the more intriguing gadgets we found:
For most of their existence, home thermostats have been mere functional accessories. White or beige, they blend into the wall and only get noticed when someone needs to change the temperature.
With an elegantly simple dial that turns blue when cooling and orange when heating, the new Nest digital thermostat seeks to change that. If it looks like something made by Apple, that's because it's designed by former Apple exec Tony Fadell, the man behind the look of the iPod.
"We're the iPhone of thermostats," said Nest Labs marketing spokeswoman Kristin Bickett, continuing the Apple theme. "It's the simplicity of the design."
The Nest saves energy with motion-tracking sensors that detect when people enter or leave a room and adjust temperatures accordingly. It also tracks your energy-use history and energy savings.
When it's connected to Wi-Fi, it downloads software updates automatically. And if you're lazy, you can control it wirelessly from your couch with your phone or tablet.
It sells for $249 and is available from heating- and cooling-system installers or at Nest.com, although the website is currently sold out.
Marley Bag of Rhythm
"We're bringing back the boombox from the '80s!" said House of Marley spokeswoman Karen Korponai cheerfully in what must surely be one of the stranger marketing pitches at a cutting-edge gadget show.
Indeed they are. The Bag of Rhythm is pretty much that -- a portable stereo with high-end components, a handsome birch wood face and an iPhone/iPod dock, nestled inside a canvas shoulder bag.
Take it to the beach, to the college quad or to your next Hacky Sack game. The rechargeable battery promises five to six hours of music for your dancing, air-guitaring or spacing-out pleasure.
The Bag of Rhythm will sell for $300 when it hits the market in February, Korponai said.
The House of Marley company, which also makes earbuds and headphones, operated under a partnership with the late Bob Marley's family. One of his sons, Rohan Marley, was at CES to help promote the product.
Dyle TV tuner
Why is it that your uncle's clunky old hand-held TV can pick up live channels, but our cutting-edge smartphones are left with 20-second cat videos?
A new device called Dyle can put live TV on an Android phone, iPhone or iPad. The cork-size plastic gizmo has a headphone jack at the end of a short wire, which houses an antenna that can pick up digital TV signals.