Jan. 10, 2013 at 8:35 PM ET
The latest gadgets always have the newest components and specs, but there's no guarantee they'll be pleasant to look at. Yet every once in a while you come across something that's not only a cool device, but is downright handsome. Here are some we came across at CES.
That odd-looking grill above is actually a new external hard drive called the Blade Runner, designed by Philippe Starck for LaCie. From the front (if that is the front) it looks a bit like a radiator, but from the other angles you see that the drive is encased in a strangely shaped blog embedded in the slats. It sounds weird, and it is, but it also looks great. And at $300 for 4 terabytes, it's expensive but well within reason for that kind of storage.
Another big name in design, Yves Behar, helped put together the Scanadu Scout, a pocketable device that can be used to detect one's temperature, pulse, blood oxygenation and other vitals in just a few seconds. We reported on it earlier in the show, and were struck by its elegance. Fitting so many basic diagnostics into such a tiny package is only possible because of the clever placement (and concealment) of its sensors.
These colorful blobs, shaped like a small loaf of French bread and perforated all over, are some of the Bluetooth speakers we dubbed CES 2013's "gadget spam." Even so, the bright but tasteful color selection and bold, chunky buttons of the Urchin, from Boom, really grabbed our attention.
It's water-resistant, and the speaker can attach to your wall or bag in a number of ways via its little loop. It comes in a number of other slightly shocking colors for $149.
With all the brightly colored silicone and plastic at the show, Lapka's understated design was a welcome break for the eyeballs. These tiny sensors plug into your iOS devices and report radiation, humidity, and other invisible information. But they do so while looking more like jewelry than lab equipment.
The app that collects the data was also well-designed — even Lapka's modest booth at CES was pleasant and woody. You can pick up a set for $220, but be on the lookout for limited editions with other materials.
Lapka's devices were originally going to be made from ceramic, which is designer Joey Roth's medium of choice, at least for these unique and lovely speakers — no plastic used at all. The speakers themselves came out a good while back, but the subwoofer is brand new. It's gorgeous, but hold onto your wallets: The full system will set you back $1,095.
Joey wasn't exhibiting on the show floor, but was showing off the speakers privately. If you're set for audio gear, keep an eye on his site for some upcoming projects that may be more up your alley (and price range).
The Good Night Lamp is still just a Kickstarter project for now, but the creators' prototype was too cute to pass up. The big house can be used normally as a lamp (you turn it on and off with the chimney), but whenever it's turned on, the small houses do, too — even if they're thousands of miles away. They're connected over the Internet, and you can have as many little lamps as you want.
Put the big lamp in your office or at home and let the kids or your spouse see when you're at work or have arrived at home. It's simple, elegant and the little felt "house coats" are adorable. The London-based Good Night Lamp Team is aiming to raise over half-million dollars on Kickstarter, so head over there if you want to help the effort along.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.