It is not uncommon for CES to take some time to ramp up. In the past few years, surprises have been rare and products that grabbed our attention have been few and far between. That isn’t the case this year since, just minutes after checking into the Gear Diary suite here at the MGM Signature in Las Vegas, we had the chance to sit down with Brian Holmes, VP and General Manager of MiPow.
We walked away impressed.
Not familiar with MiPow? You will be, since the four-year old company is making its US debut here at CES 2013. We, in fact, had the first CES meeting with Brian — a meeting we expected to last a half hour but ended two hours later — and only because we had a commitment we had to keep in another hotel. That’s how interesting Brian, MiPow and the company’s products were.
In this initial post we’ll take a look at the company itself. For while Brian did show us some specific products, some announced, some being announced over the next few days, the company and its approach is worthy of its own focus post. (We’ll be getting our hands on many of the new products tomorrow and will take a closer look at them once they are in hand.)
In the meantime here are some pictures of a few of the devices that Brian, who literally just drove in from Chicago this afternoon, had on him.
MiPow is a four-year old company that is already in over 40 countries and whose products have been warmly received. And while many would describe the company as an “accessory company” Brian emphasized the fact that they are a mobility company. The more he shared with us the more it became clear that this is indeed the case. Brian himself has 27 years of experience in the field of mobility that includes significant time with Motorola and NEC. He joined the MiPow team last September because of the integrated approach the company takes. He, along with the other key players in the company have a long history of wanting to create well-designed, refined, usable items for the mobile market. That is exactly what MiPow is doing.
MiPow takes an integrated approach to their products. By that, Brian means the company is looking to create products that bring consumers both the design and performance for which they, as the engineering team behind those products, can be proud. For example, the company has a sleek line of external batteries for mobile devices (we can’t wait to get our hands on review samples tomorrow), for which MiPow designs and manufactures their own cells. They are building Bluetooth 4.0 into as many of their products as possible, and then are taking the time — extensive time, as Brian described to us — to tune the headsets so as to create products with outstanding audio quality. We didn’t get to use their Bluetooth headset yet, but we did try on a headset; we found that the build quality, design features and comfort were top-notch. As Brian put it, “We manufacture whatever we can.” This gives them a degree of control that is all too rare in the marketplace today.
Here’s just one of the many examples Brian gave us. Not only does MiPow manufacture their own cells for the external batteries they offer, but they also cycle each battery numerous times to guarantee it lives up to the standards they have set for their products. We’ve covered different external batteries, and we have never encountered a company that did this. This helps guarantee that, for example, batteries listed as 5500mAh batteries are certain to be 5500 mAh batteries. In addition, each battery has multiple circuit protections in place to guarantee the devices they charge are protected during the process. Indicator lights on the batteries and the cable don’t hurt either.
MiPow’s portfolio includes headsets, Bluetooth audio devices, external batteries and much more. They are new to the US, but will also be announcing a number of new worldwide offerings tomorrow. The products are targeted toward mobile professionals as well as style conscious folks who value aesthetics and functionality.
We weren’t sure what to expect when we walked into the meeting with Brian and MiPow, but both Judie and I came away impressed and excited. The technology and aesthetics they build into their products are clear. It is also clear that, in the US as they have done elsewhere, the company is targeting their products to be premium offerings that aren’t exclusive; we like that, too. We’re excited to get some hands on time with their batteries, headsets and the new category of device they will be announcing tomorrow so stay tuned.