CES 2008: January 2008 Archives
There were about 400 exhibitors (probably close to 300 uniques, since there some were at multiple events) at the multi-vendor press/analyst events I went to -- "CES Unveiled," Lunch@Piero's, Marty Winston's Cherry Picks, Pepcom Digital Experience, and ShowStopppers. (See my DERN @ CES Report #3, A Few Words (Well, Paragraphs) AboutThe Multi-Vendor Press/Analyst-Only Events".
I schmoozed with or otherwise looked, and took press materials from, at least a hundred of these several hundred exhibitors, including Diskeeper, D-Link, Lenovo, NetGear, Nikon, Olympus, Paragon Software, Sandisk, and Rebit, to rattle off a few from memory.
And there were over 2,700 exhibitors at CES 2008, with I-don't-know-how-many products. I saw probably a hundred, maybe two hundred of these -- many at the "Innovation Center" at the Sands/Venetian. (Fortunately, I'd already chatted with many of these folks, at the Pepcom, ShowStoppers, et c.
Here's brief notes on a sampling -- four dozen or so -- based mostly on the notes I typed into my trusty "pocket-sized" NEC MobilePro 780. (I've also got a one-foot stack of PR CDs, two dozen USB drives (totaling about 15GB) of press kits, and a modest two-inch stack of PR paper I brought back.) There were lots more interesting products, but I can't include them all (especially not in this forum, which I'm doing for free).
I'll do, and post to TechRevu.com, category-sorted summaries (including some stuff not noted in this report), and "Dern's Picks For CES2008." (And I'll go back and put links to them here.)
Yoggie's USB-stick Linux-based firewall and security apps -- not just software, but also a processor, rather than consume your computer's CPU resources. Less than $100, I'm curious to try one.
Sandisk is adding a auto-backup service to some of its Cruzer Titanium Plus flash drives, via BeInSync online backup using Amazon Web Services. The first six months of the service are free; $29.99 per year afterwards. Also, optional password protection and AES in-hardware encryption, and two years free BoomerangIt lost-and-found service. The 4GB flash drive should be available March 2008, MSRP $59.99.
NRG was showing a solar recharging dock -- technically, a solar panel, and a separate, also AC-powerable, dock -- to help keep mobile devices charged, and provide a way to recharge them during (daytime) power outages. (Too) expensive for most of us, IMHO; available March 2008.
Got data you want to protect from fire and other disasters, and aren't using an offsite data backup service? Or CD/DVDs and a few other things you want to (also) protect? Consider a fireproof drive or safe from Sentry Safe.
HTC Shift - Mobile 3G Cell Devices with Big-Enough Keyboard Another entry blurring the line between big Internet-enabled cell phones and small cellular-broadband enabled notebook computers, the HTC Shift includes Vista Business, a 7" display, 30GB (or bigger) hard drive, tri-band, quad-band, WiFI and Bluetooth, in a two-pound package.
Giving the finger(s) to handhelds and mobile devices: interface developer Synaptics Inc. is adding support for "pinch" and "momentum" finger gestures for touchscreens, in addition to its existing "ChiralMotion" scrolling gesture support.
Online PC service/support/training firm PlumChoice was at ShowStoppers, providing service via remote access. I don't (yet) know how much it costs, what exactly they do, etc., but I'm sure it beats being asked by family and friends to fix their computers.
Beceem has chipsets for mobile WiMAX, e.g. notebooks and handhelds with built-in WiMAX (or, for all I know, PCMCIA or other add-ons). Mobile WiMAX can be the metro alternative to cellco broadband, let's wish them luck!
Brother was showing its HL-2170W WiFi-enabled laser printer, MRSP $149. (Other printer vendors, like Lexmark, already offer WiFi-enabled printers -- see my eWeek news story, and add-on WiFi print servers are appx $40-$100.)
IoGear continues its foray into the pocket-sized mobile rechargeable power pack for cell phones and other handheld/mobile devices, with its GearJuice, MSRP $49.95 with six charging tips. Also shown: their smaller SlimCharger and Rescue Charger.
Wenger's best-known product line is Swiss Army Knives, but they also do other stuff, like their new Ibex computer backpack, MSRP $89. No wheels or handle, but very impressive padding against the back. (Victorinox makes a nice wheeled backpack, although I'm still quite happy with my Targus 15.4" Rolling Notebook Backpack.)
Energizer's moving beyond just-batteries to also offer Energizer Light on Demand-- lights plus rechargeable batteries, and a docking/mount, so they can act like normal use/emergency in-place or cordless mini-lights or removable flashlights.
Want VoIP at home, in your small office, or on the road, but having trouble telling whether it's working? Vonage's new V-Portal router, with two RJ-11 (POTS) phone jacks, plugging into any broadband. It's got an LCD for install, calling, and troubleshooting info, and is small enough to be part of your portable tech kit.
Clean gunk and germs from device screens with Monster Screen Clean.
Fujitsu has added Wide-Area Networking to its already sweet 1.5-pound ultra-ultra-light Lifebook u810 Mini-Notebook PC, MSRP around $1,000 (not counting WAN service). On the list of "Things I want to try."
Amiga fans, interesting (good?) news - Amiga, Inc. has added more multimedia and gaming features to version 2 of its AmigaAnywhere "run anywhere" platform that lets apps be run on a bunch of platforms. It's an environment, not an "OS," incorporating all sorts of personal and other config data.
Also for mobile recording-oriented audiophiles and dictationists: Olympus' LS-10 Linear PCM Audio Recording Device, MSRP $399.99.
Invisio was showing its consumer line of Bluetooth headsets -- small! I'm curious to see what they sound like (at both ends). The Invisio G5 includes a charging case that can recharge the headset five times before itself needing a recharge. The Invisio Q7 will use bone conduction technology.
Joby, the folks who brought us the GorillaPod flex-leg camera mini-tripod, was showing its Zivio Bluetooth headset, featuring a telescoping microphone boom intended for environments like high-noise public areas and moving automobiles which have traditionally tasked headsets to provide clear audio.
Ricoh announced half a dozen new single-pass laser color printer/multi-function devices (MFPs), from $399 to $849, intended for small offices and other lowish-end business users, with features including front-panel access and short-paper-path.
Via Technologies had several tables' worth of UMPCs and other products and prototypes at Lunch@Piero's, using their small-to-real-small motherboards, including MTube, the world's smallest x86-based computer.
In the sub-$500 sub-notebook range, Everex was at Lunch@Piero's with their CloudBook ultra-mobile PC -- 7.1" screen, same form factor and price zone ($400-ish) as the Asus EEE, but with 30GB hard drive instead of flash RAM, DVI output, camera, and media readers. It's running gOS Rocket, a Linux derivative. (I and others suggested they should also offer Windows, for Windows users willing to pay more to run in an environment they were more familiar with.)
Penton Overseas has ported their DVD-based foreign language learning programs to iPod versions.
Hughes Network Systems is up to 365,000 users of their satellite broadband service (for when you can't landline or metro wireless broadband), and has a number of new distributors.
New USB drives from Kingston include a 2GB Traveler that includes Migo software, and an 8GB HyperTraveller.
Internet-enable your pill bottles with GloCaps; they won't confirm that pills have been taken, but can do a light and sound alert on the bottle to remind the user it's time to take 'em.
Flir's new infrared video cameras are a good add-on for vehicles (BMW's mounting them below the headlights) to let you see obstacles you'd otherwise not detect in time, also for security applications.
ZPower's silver-zinc rechargeable batteries will be challenging LiON for use in notebook, cell phones and other portable electronics; the vendor claims they'll provide 40% more run time in the same factor as LiON cells.
In addition to cool mobile peripherals like their CardScan business card scanner, Newell Rubbermaid now offers postage-printing devices with features like no-monthly-fee, your graphics (e.g. pix) as stamps.
Paragon Software was showing Partition Manager 9.0, and Drive Backup 2008 Server Express; the higher-end version of Backup includes CDP and other additional features.
IBM is using virtual worlds ("intraverses") for a fascinating range of internal applications, including data center monitoring, bringing in retired (IBM) experts, working with multiple companies. Way cool!
Recognizing that some peripherals don't need to be on when the computer's off (and often don't have power switches), APC's adding "slaved" outlets that turn off when the device plugged into the "master" outlet is turned off or "goes to sleep, on devices including its MSRP $99 Back-UPS ES 750 (1 master + 3 "slaved" backup'ed outlets, plus 4 other power-backed and 2 surge-only outlets), and its Power-Saving Surge Arrest, MSRP $39, 1 master outlet, 3 "slaved," 3 additional.
Speaking of power monitoring and saving, PC International had both their MSRP $49 KillAWatt EZ single-out power monitor, their KillAWatt PS Power Strip (MSRP $99), which displays how much power is going through them. And they will be introducing a wireless monitoring unit that can send its information to a display (which will monitor up to 8 remote units).
Xantrex, now working with/through Duracell, has nifty mobile chargers and power devices, ranging from the smallest third-party power "brick" for notebooks, through their $99 PowerPack 300 lead-acid-based home/auto 12Ah 300-watt battery/inverter and air compressor combo suitable for, among other things, jump-starting a car.
- Their Pocket Inverter 100 and 175 convert 12V automobile power into standard AC out.
- The XPower PowerSource Mobile Mini is a rechargeable pocket power pack with a USB port and a swing-out mini-USB 'arm.'
- The XPower PowerSource Mobile 100 has a small battery -- and an AC outlet so you don't need adapter "tips"...plus two USB charging/power ports.
Sandisk's new Sansa TakeTV PC to TV Video Player lets you, like the name implies, moved video from a computer and play it directly on your TV (using the connector cradle). Convenient. The $99 model holds 5 hours, the $149 holds 10 hours.
RiData's new Yego Y-shaped USB drive has two USB ports, so you gain, rather than lose, a USB port when plugging the drive in.
D-Link's new DLife.com service will autoconfigure your (DLink) equipment, making it easier to set up a home network, including peripherals.
Norazza had two interesting products: its Pocket RAID for portable RAIDed disk storage (sample pricing, $499 for 2x80GB), and its Hard Drive Destroyer, which punches holes in a hard drive's platters, rending them unreadable. At $8K, the disk destroyer's not for (most) end users, but maybe you'd pay a buck or two for walk-in access?
What do you get when you cross roller skates with a Segue? Answer: iShoes -- rechargeable battery-powered wheeled twelve-pound pair of shoe accessories. A charge takes you two to three miles, at up to 13.5 miles/hour. About $599.
Medis soon won't the only company with disposable fuel-cell-like pocket power for mobile devices. PowerAir's ThinkZinc portable power pack packs 40WaH -- about 40 AA cell's worth -- of power into an easily-pocketable shell -- $30 including cable and USB adapters, additional adapters $2.99 each. ZincAir refill packs are $20 each. Scheduled to start shipping October 2008.
CallPod's mobile accessories include their ChargePod -- think a six-outlet charger for mobile devices (pricey, but maybe worth it in space/weight savings) -- and their longer-range -- up to 300+ feet -- Dragon Bluetooth headsets.
Techsonics was showing a interesting bunch of rechargeable GoGo PowerPack mobile chargers, including its $49 PowerPack and $24.99 PowerBurst.
The $9.95 CamGrip, like the name suggests, is a hand-sized grip that screws into your camera or camcorder's tripod socket, to hold it more steadily -- particularly helpful with the smaller cameras available today.
The Data Locker external USB hard drive includes a touchscreen PIN pad, which adds password protection to the drive's boot sector -- i.e., removing the drive from the case won't bypass the password protection. $99 for barebones case, $129 with 80GB drive up through $299 with 250GB drive.
Want 802.11n speeds on your local WiFI -- without replacing your router? Or add WiFi to your wired router? Try TrendNet's $49 300Mbps Wireless Easy-N-Upgrader,
WIth Com One's $249 Phoenix Wi-Fi Radio, you don't need a computer to listen to Internet radio stations. (You'll need WiFI, of course -- and a computer to do any station set-up.)
Want to try out a mobile phone before buying? Try the TryPhone site, which has virtualized versions of a growing number of models, along with links to reviews, demos, how-to help (and, of course, buy-me's).
New optical drives from LiteOn includes their more-affordable-than-read'n'write BlueRay read-only-capable internal drive, for about $150, and an MSRP $289 external version. Also seen, a soon-available external slim DVD writer in the $99 range.
Want RAID-like external storage redundancy without the management hassle? Data Robotics $499 Drobo lets you mix-and-match any-capacity drives as an external USB device, and the $199 Drobo Share lets you put your Drobo on the network. (I'd want to know more, try this, and compare it to two-bay SOHO RAID NAS devices along with NetGear's pricier high-featured ReadyNAS line.)
And there were hundreds of others I saw, and thousands I didn't, but like I said, I couldn't possibly have gotten to see everything, and don't have time to report here on the ones I did see.
This started out as a short preface to DERN @ CES 2008 Report #4: (Some of) The Products I Saw At CES 2008, but got long enough that I decided it was best as an entry of its own. (I originally posted "Products I Saw" as Report #3, and this as Report #4, but since blog entries go most-recent-on-top, I decided to re-arrange them to give "Products I Saw" a little better visibility... at least until I post yet something else.)
For the 4,500+ press, analysts and other media who have multiple turfs, or are generalists, trying to see some of everything at the Los Vegas Convention Center and Sands/Venetian exhibition areas and other meeting areas, not to mention get to any of the press conferences, is exhausting, impossible, or both.
And since the primary purpose of the exhibits and booths is for sales prospecting, it's often hard to get the right people or information at the booth -- although there are a lot of scheduled and unscheduled press chats.
The afternoon/evening multi-vendor press/analyst-only events have evolved as an alternative solution -- bring press, vendors (and their PR folks) into one big room starting sometime between five and seven PM (when the show floor has closed, anyway), add food and drink, and let simmer.
The opportunity math is compelling in both directions.
Journalists have access to anywhere from 20 to 150+ vendors -- and (as I've proven), it's possible to touch base and chat briefly with nearly all these in an event's three to four hours, and still have time to eat, and schmooze with our fellow wizards. (And the odds are that at least a third will be way out of each person's turf... although if they've got an interesting tchotchke (giveaway), we often stop by those tables as well.)
At 20 to 30 vendors per hour, only a few of these conversations will be in depth... but a minute or so is enough for a quick "what is it, who's it for, what's new, how much, available when, let's follow up post-show." More to the point, the next table is only a few yards away.
Similarly, exhibitors get the chance to be seen by hundreds of press and analysts -- many of whom would never take -- or have -- the time to find the vendor's booth on the show floor. Many vendors, in fact, are at Lunch@Piero's, Pepcom or ShowStoppers without being exhibitors at the show itself -- leveraging the show's press attendance.
(I'll write up a longer, more general "do the math" discussion at a later date.)
Note, this "be near the show but not an exhibitor" approach isn't parasitic, in my and other peoples' opinion. Many press folks -- including myself -- wouldn't go to CES, or some other events if there weren't a Pepcom or ShowStoppers event, because without them, we can't count on seeing enough good stuff easily or at all. In fact, Pepcom does some "freestanding" events (ShowStoppers hasn't -- yet), when there wasn't a trade show to also go to... and I've sent myself to some of their New York City ones.
A Few Words About The Events Themselves
The multi-vendor press/analyst events for CES 2008 (that I was aware of, and attended), were, in chronological order:
CES Unveiled", "The Official Press Event of the International CES," Saturday, January 5, 4PM-7PM. 70+ vendors, with an estimated ~1,000 attendees.
"CES Unveiled" is CES's kick-off event for the press -- a large roomful of vendor tables plus a steady stream of food.
When I went to CES last year, I didn't get into town in time to go to this event. Friends who did re-assured me that pretty much every all the vendors there were also at Pepcom, ShowStoppers, or both.
This year, I scheduled my flight so I could hit Unveiled as well -- since CES is my main marketing & research trip for the year, I figured I should try to get to as many press events as possible. This year it was in the Sands Expo, down the hallway from the Sands press registration and press room -- easy enough to get to.
Memo to self for next year: get in line earlier, like at least an hour earlier. "CES Unveiled," unlike Lunch@Piero's, Pepcom and ShowStoppers, is open to anybody with a CES Press or Bloggers badge. Even though it was Saturday, the room was packed. Not as tightly as a Tokyo subway car at rush hour (and I was in Tokyo, for the first time, this summer, so I know what I'm talking about :-).
Pepcom "Digital Experience, Sunday, January 6, 7PM-10PM. ~160 vendors, and an estimated 1,500 attendees. (Pepcom reports 900 for their 2007 CES event.)
Pepcom's events are usually scheduled for the night before the show floor opens, with ShowStoppers getting the subsequent night. (There used to be more such events, J.P. Davis, and somewhat further back in trade show history, Silicon Valley Northwest, if memory serves. This often meant two such events in one evening, tricky at best to get cross-town in a timely fashion. Fortunately for us press folks, J.P. Davis got bought up, leaving us with a manageable one event per night.)
Pepcom typically seems to have slightly more exhibitors than ShowStoppers -- but, with only three hours instead of four -- that isn't necessarily a good thing, it means less time to make the rounds and chat briefly with as many as possible. They also had less open floor space, so things were more crowded.
Lunch @ Piero's, Monday, January 7 and Tuesday, January 8, 11:30AM-1PM. Appx. 20-24 exhibitors, and probably 400-500 attendees.
Journalists need to eat lunch, and while the CES press room has free lunch (along with breakfast and mid-day snacks), the food's not that great, the line can be long, and if you don't get there in time, it can be all gone.
Many vendors schedule press conferences around noon and include lunch -- but unless it's an announcement you care about (or are assigned to cover), this can be a bad use of time (and no guarantee the food will be something you like).
Piero's Restaurant is a short block and a half from the Las Vegas Convention Center. For 23 years, ace PR woman Pat Meier has been renting Piero's out for PR lunches during CES, Comdex (and possibly other Vegas events, for invited members of the press. In roughly one half of the restaurant, vendors stand by tables; in the other, there's good food, tables, and chairs.
The chat space can be crowded, but Lunch@Piero's provides a good break from the show floor and a convenient way to see and talk with the exhibitors -- many of whom aren't at the rest of the show. (And it's a chance to sit down and talk with colleagues.)
ShowStoppers@CES 2008, Monday, January 7, 6PM-10PM. Appx. 130 exhibitors, and an estimated 1,500+ attendees.
ShowStoppers and Pepcom are the two big evening events, these days. I've been going to ShowStoppers events since they began 15 years ago -- back in the days of Comdex, PC Expo and other shows, and when Interop (a.k.a. N+I) was a big show, three or four ShowStoppers events a year. (They're currently doing at least seven ShowStoppers in 2008, but I only expect to get to one other besides the CES one, at most.)
Slightly fewer vendors isn't necessarily a bad thing -- combined with four hours to Pepcom's three, this meant we had more time to chat meaningfully with more of the exhibitors. Plus, this year's ShowStoppers had more open space than Pepcom -- i.e., less crowding, easier mingling -- and they also had tables and chairs, in addition to the standing-height tables, so we could actually sit, rather than be on our feet all evening after being on our feet most of the day.
There's some exhibitor overlap among these events -- I'm guestimating about a quarter, possibly more, of the vendors were at more than one event. But schedule permitting, it still makes sense, IMHO, to hit Unveiled, if possible, in my opinion; it extends the see-and-schmooze opportunity, and will free up some time at Pepcom and ShowStoppers to see the vendors who are at those events only...or to go back to a vendor with follow-up questions.
Rough totals for these events: 400 exhibitor tables -- factoring in repeats, say, 300 unique exhibitors; 16 hours (staying there the whole time, and going to both days of Piero's, ignoring that some events ran up to half an hour beyond official closing).
Here's the first of my CES 2008 event/day summaries. (Sorry it's taken so long to post it.) After the show, I'll put together summaries by category, and also my "Dern Good Stuff 'Best of CES 2008'" picks.
The two-day Storage Visions 2008 partner event, Saturday January 5 and Sunday January 6 at the Flamingo hotel, includes products, services and technologies aimed at small, medium and enterprise and also home, mobile and consumers. The room of vendor tables is modest -- maybe two dozen -- but it isn't hard to find interesting stuff there, like
- iFixIT.com -- selling battery replacement kits and other replacements for iPods, e.g. battery kits (battery and tools) for $15 to $40 -- and online guides with step by step instructions.
- Intel, as always, had a bunch of interesting products and concept-demos, ranging from the penny-sized solid-state storage, with a controller on the master one, for populating cell phones and other hand-held devices in 2GB increments up to GB, to Intel's ClassMate PC, a solid-state-disk'd small-size Windows or Linux subnotebook. The screen is small, but at $225-ish, it's an affordable option for students, competing with the One Laptop Per Child's device.
- Tilana adds another business model to online backup -- a one-time charge of $2/GB for your data, and $19.95/month for access to it. Backup is CDP (Continuous Data Protection) of files.
- Mempile is talking about its TeraDisc technology, which will fitup to a terabyte of data onto its CD/DVD-sized disks -- write-once, good for archiving and compliance, e.g. health care, financial services. Prototype hopefully by end of 2008 and commercial products a year later. If the cost is reasonable, they could easily sell lots of these, I'm predicting, especially if they can come up with a jukebox-style library that hold a few hundred disks in a few-U device, like the ones already available for CD/DVD storage.
- Gaviri.com has added to its search-your-device software, also letting you search YouTube, Facebook, MSN, Yahoo, and other data troves.
- Rebit offers "no-click" backup appliances for notebook and desktop users, e.g. they've got USB-powered pocket hard drives, for people who want to do backups but not think about it. Their software automatically does byte-level CDP, including for Outlook files. User read-only access to the Rebit is with Windows Explorer. Easy and automatic!
Marty Winston's Cherry Picks for CES 2008
When it comes to spotting good products and getting the right info on them -- including PR contacts, which a surprising number of vendors are bad at doing -- Marty Winston is one of my favorite resources, and with good reason. Marty not only knows how to do the job of reaching press people right, but he does right. That may be, in part, because he is one; according to Marty, he's taken on the unique role of being a "journalist to journalists." (The other reason being that he knows what journalists are interested in, and need -- which isn't always the same as what vendors want to say.)
Marty's 26-year-old weekly to-journaliists-only free Newstips Bulletin (all email these days) provides informative paragraph-length news coverage ideas and contact info for products of each of his sponsors' companies in particular, plus a lot of reviews and special reports that are strictly Marty's own work.
A few years ago, Marty joined the press event scene, first with his Cherry Picks, and then also with another event. To qualify for Cherry Picks, products must be relatively new (announced within the cut-off), and meet Marty's assessment that they're press-worthy and novel. The press sits; each vendor gets on stage for a minute spiel -- and press gets a clipboard with one-sheeters for each product with vendor and PR contact info, MSRP, and availability data, plus a paragraph or two description, and picture.
Last year, there were enough presenters that Marty had to rigidly enforce the sixty-seconds-and-you're-done time limit. This year, there were somewhat fewer presenters; Marty sensibly took advantage of the extra time to allow a minute or two of Q&A for each presenter, and more presenting time in some cases. This worked to our advantage, in my opinion; we got answers to questions it might not have occured to us to ask.
Additionally, Marty has added a "Green Room" row of tables for after the presentations, where we could go up to vendors to see the products up close, and ask more questions. (And there was lunch.) Last year, press and vendors simply milled around; this gave us more opportunity for one-on-one microchats and see-it's.
This year's Cherry Picks included:
- Vetrix all-electric zero-emissions "maxi-scooter" (motorcycle), for commuting and recreational. At 11 grand, not cheap, but nifty if you can afford it and want it.
- Underwater Digital Device (UDI) -- the world's first underwater text messaging/SOS device, allowing up to 56 divers to be in contact up to 1,000 yards apart. Arm-mounted. Costs over $1,000, but likely to become a popular safety and communications item.
- Tiffen Steadicam Arm and vest kit for Merlin. Think Doc Octopus (one of Spider-Man's arch foes) -- this vest/belt-based arm holds a video camera up to 7.5 camera, allowing event videographers to hold their cameras steady, affordably.
- Gibson Robot Guitar. A Gibson electric guitar that tunes itself within seconds, to any of half a dozen pre-set or custom tunings. The initial run of 4,000 sold out instantly. At $2,500-ish, not for everybody -- but for musicians and enthusiasts, a new must-have.
- Z Boost Personal -- a "personal cell phone booster" that repeats and amplifies a cel phone signal, e.g. so you don't have to lean out a window to get another bar. Consumer priced below $200, for consumers and home-offices who currently can't make calls inside the house.
- Sling Media's SlingProjector -- if you watch video on a computer, e.g. catching up on TV episodes via the web, you want this... it connects your computer to a TV, so you can watch on your big(ger) screen. Around $250. I'd spend my own money for one of these.. and may.
- NABC UltraLight Energy Charger Station -- a battery charger kit that includes 4 AA Hybrio rechargeable cells (which come pre-charged, and hold 85% of their charge for up to a year). The charger also has a USB port; with charged batteries in it, can be used as a mobile power source to recharge cell phones, ipods, etc. Around $30.
The first of several posts of stuff as I see it. After the show's over, I'll sort out my notes, brood, and post together categorized summaries, e.g. storage, mobile, photo, power..., and also my "Dern Good Stuff 'Best of CES 2008'" picks. (Plus I'll go back and add in more URLs.)
Coffee & B-Roll -- It's CES and it's Vegas, Jack
CES, the Consumer Electronics Association's annual International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas, in early January, is, according to CEA, "the world's largest consumer technology trade show, and North America's largest annual trade show of any kind." CES isn't for consumers, any more than Comdex was for end users (although some show up); it's for the retailers, manufacturers, installers, engineers, corporate buyers -- plus media folks (that's me), industry analysts, and sundry others.
Over 140,000 attendees, from 140 countries, are expected this year, to see a subset of the 2,700+ exhibitors, and perhaps catch some of the keynote speeches (including Bill Gates) and other sessions. That's Comdex-class city congestion, especially since CES's exhibits are too much to fit in either of the Vegas' two convention centers. So CES (like some of the last Comdexes) is distributed between the Las Vegas Convention Center including the Las Vegas Hilton and the parking lot in front, and, a few miles away, the interconnected Sands Expo & Convention Center and the Venetian Hotel... plus sundry related meetings and events all over town.
That's still not as big as the annual CeBIT show in Germany (I went to CeBIT in 2005, once was enough, thank you), where people often commute/travel in daily from one or two countries away. But it's plenty big. Big enough -- plus, given Vegas's sprawling, make-you-walk-past-as-many-shops-and-other-spending-things-as-possible architecture -- that we spend a lot of time walking, waiting in lines, taking taxis, shuttles and busses (the monorail here is five bucks a ride, doesn't go to or stop near a lot of places, and may be public transit but isn't "mass" transit by any stretch of the imagination). And although the city overall has, over the past five or ten years, gone non-smoking in restaurants, lobbies and many other places, the casino/gaming areas are still smokey, and it spills over.
I.e., if you think I or others are here having fun, think twice. Yeah, we're having some fun, and seeing colleagues who we're friends with. But attending this show is tiring, grueling work. And so far, it's grey and chilly here. We'd all rather be home or at the office.
Like the name suggests, CES is primarily about consumer electronics, including entertainment and other widgits for your house, car, and boat, as well as for mobile (walk, bicycle, travel) consumers, wireless, video (lots of HDTV!), gaming, content, high-end audio and some professional/business stuff. Plus odd-lot stuff like home security, electric toothbrushes, and -- well, we'll see. (For what it's worth, according to one person I chatted with at Logan Airport while waiting for our flight, CES is no longer the premier show for home audio/theater, CEDIA is.) Products that have debuted at past CES shows include the VCR (1970), the laserdisk player (1974) (I still own one :-), CD player (1981), DVD (1996), HDTV (1998), Xbox (2001), and plasma TV (2001).
There is, however, a lot of "prosumer" (professional consumer), business and office technology on display -- not surprising, given that a lot of today's tech can serve both groups. What there isn't much of (so far) is IT in the classic sense -- technology for companies also concerned with managing things and integrating them into their computing and network environments. I saw some IT-oriented exhibitors so far, at the Storage Visions Expo, like the Trusted Computing Group, and backup arrays and services, but I expect these will be in the minority.
Sensibly and fortunately, exhibitors are grouped by type into halls, as much as possible, e.g. automotive in one, home stuff in another. Some people might never leave a given hall; I could easily not go to half the halls, and not miss too much (although there's always something quirky or otherwise interesting there).
Once again, I'm sending myself, on my own kilo-dollar. With the Comdex and PC Expo shows no longer around, CES, including the associated press events, is the closest thing there is to a general computer show with professional/business and borderline-IT stuff. My main goals -- although, of course I'd be happy to sell some soon-after coverage -- are research and networking -- to see interesting stuff to write about, and schmooze with editors and reporters and PR folks to write for over the ear to come.
The CES show floor doesn't open until Monday morning, January 7. But things started early Saturday morning, with, among other things, Storage Visions 2008. And although Sunday is "Press Day," at least one CES partner event, Storage Visions, runs all day Saturday and Sunday with sessions and a few dozen exhibitor tables, and 4PM Saturday is "CES Unveiled," CES's press kick-off event with several dozen exhibitors.
Sunday morning is PRmeister Marty Winston's Cherry Picks event for the press, where press sits in chairs while vendors come up on stage one by one and do a one-minute overview spiel about their product (which has to be new since July 1). Sunday evening is Pepcom's Digital Experience, the first big press-and-analyst-place-to-be multi-vendor event -- scores of vendor tables, plus food and schmoozing.
Monday and Tuesday there's Pat Meier-Johnson's Lunch@Pieros, where invited journalists can get a decent lunch and chat with a dozen or two vendors inside Piero's Restaurant, an easy one-block walk from the Las Vegas Convention Center... and Monday night, ShowStoppers, the other big evening multi-vendor press see-schmooze-and-eat event.
Plus daytime strolling the exhibits at the show floors, of course, traffic and crowds permitting.