The annual Consumer Electronics Show is coming up. I’ll probably add some new tips to my annual CES Tips list, but ultimately there’s a lot of same-old, same-old going on. Which, to people like me, is great. To a lot of people, it’s awful. I think the show could use some change (this year’s I-Stage event was definitely a step in the right direction), and I’ll post on that soon enough. But for those of you debating attending, here are 6 reasons why CES is Awesome, and 6 reasons why CES is Lame.
The Awesome List
- The CrazyNation Pavillions. Located every year in the Sands hotel, many countries purchase booths for local vendors to show up with their wares. Invariably these booths have some of the weirdest hybrid gadgets you’ll ever see, most of which will never, ever come to market, anywhere. But it’s “Days of Thunder” bad, in other words you hate it til you get sucked into it, because after all, it’s pure entertainment.
- Vegas. Anything more than 3 days in Vegas is too long, but if 2/3 of your time is spent at a big gadget show, that only really leaves ~1 day there. Which is perfect. And honestly, where else could they possibly put a show like this?
- Something New and Exciting. There’s always the chance for something new and fun at CES. I know already of two gadgets that will debut there, both of which are interesting and worth checking out. While the recent trends have shifted to independent launch events, I think this might be the perfect year to launch at CES.
- The Innovations Zone. Much like the International Zones above, the Innovations Pods (also in the Sands hotel) are a way for startups to bring their gadgets to the world for the right price. Keep in mind both Sling Media and Bug Labs first attended CES in the Innovations Pods (yup, I’m biased). Don’t forget – this year there are two Innovation Pods areas in the Sands, so make sure you get to both!
- Really Really Big Stuff. Huge. Just because nobody will ever buy a One-Hundred-And-Six-Inch Plasma doesn’t mean we don’t want to see it! Or $150,000 projectors. Or big crazy gaming rigs. It would be like going to a car show and not seeing Ferraris and Maybachs…
- Cheap Hotel Rooms. While I don’t agree with my friend Dan that CES will be a “dud”, there are definitely more hotel rooms available than in prior years. Which also means shorter taxi lines. No matter what, for those of us who do go, it’s a win.
The Lame List
- It’s still in early January. This is my 10th CES, of which only 3 did not have me there as a demonstrator (this year included). Which means for 7 of the past 10 years, my December is generally spent planning and executing on CES. This, in a word, sucks.
- Hooligans. Consider the above comment. Now pretend you work for a big firm that spends hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on the show every year. Now pretend you are doing demos for 8 hours a day with inadequate sleep. Now pretend some young whippersnapper comes along and screws with your demo. Funny (I guess) to anyone but the demoer, but just an unpleasant thing to do to someone.
- Nothing New and Exciting. While I have hopes for Something New and Exciting, the reality is there won’t be more than a handful of standout new products at the show. Which means literally thousands of gadgets you’ve seen before.
- Apple Doesn’t Want to Share With the Other Kids. Of all computer and consumer electronics companies, Apple unquestionably produces the most intrigue around new products. Considering they make the #1 selling MP3 player and also the current king of the hill iPhone, they’d fit quite well at CES. But they don’t come, and I think it’s a shame. Granted they have little to actually gain (considering they make great products, have all the PR they need, and own their own retail channel), but it would be nice to see them participate in such an industry-defining event.
- The CES Flu. It comes every year, it’s unpreventable, and unstoppable.
- It’s Too Damned Big. When the show expanded to the South Hall, we all thought it was too big. Expansion to the Sands helped CES as much as teams in Phoenix, Raleigh, and Tampa Bay helped hockey.
See y’all in Vegas!
Agreed on all counts. 🙂 But I’ll still be there!
CES has always sounded like a magical toy store for adults. I am glad to hear of the downsides. Still, I would love to go– especially since I went to Convergence this year and it did nothing to satisfy my convergence-in-gadgets hunger.
I need to add one more to the dud list, though I’m hoping that the economy thins the herd a bit this year: D-list bloggers. Ever since gizmodo and then engadget redefined tech news coverage, CES has had a tough time figuring out what to do with bloggers as distinct from accredited press. After first swinging too far in the direction of journalists, CES seems to have decided not to make any distinctions whatsoever; apparently, all you need to do to get a press pass at CES is get a free blog account and type in an entry about your cat. I was shut out from the SanDisk press conference at CES two years ago because bloggers discovered that little MP3 players were being given out, and a Long Island Wal~Mart -style rush ensued. I stopped one of the bloggers leaving early (most just wanted the freebie, not the info) and asked him what publication he worked for. It turned out (I’m not making this up) it was a family newsletter for a group of about 50 relatives in upstate NY.
Jeremy, are you doing MacWorld, too? See you in January…
Last year was my first, but working 20 to 30-hour “days” trying to cover the stupid thing didn’t leave nearly as much time for exploration as I would like. I heartily agree about the international/WTF pavilion, which is a must-visit. It’s like heading to the crapware stores in Chinatown, in NYC, but without the smell.
And if you’ve never had a ride in a tank chair, you’re missing out.
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“The CrazyNation Pavillions.”
I saw that at CES 2007 and loved it. So much crazy wacky neat cool stuff there.
I remember seeing tv’s that were better than HD. Really amazing.
I’ll be there this year…