Stop the CES madness

January 7, 2013

NEW YORK – That dateline is right: I’m not at the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I’m in good company: Apple, Amazon, Google – global superpowers in tablets, the dominant tech of our time – aren’t there this year, and have never been any other. Microsoft gave the primary keynote last year, but that was its swan song at this relic in the desert. Somebody else will have to take its space on the convention floor this year.

Truth is, I’ve never made the Hajj to CES. Nevertheless, an estimated 150,000 people are attending (if there’s a God in Heaven CNET’s editorial team of 90 is the most representatives from any single publication). They’re gathering to be dazzled by 33,000 exhibitors there to make sure you understand they are about to revolutionize [their industry here]. Everything from self-driving cars to fast USB sticks will be touted.

The journalists who are there are hoping to press some flesh and discover something in the vast ocean of minutia that that they alone will recognize as truly amazing. But that’s foolish. We no longer need to go anywhere to keep up with technology. Technology ensures everything keeps up with us. When nearly every tech blog on the Internet is flypaper to tech companies, why commute to the hype?

CES has been a fixture on the tech calendar for years, since the very first one in 1967 in New York. New York in January is sort of cold, but it wasn’t until 1998 that the trade show moved exclusively to Vegas, where it might be 108 degrees on the strip but you’ll never know that because you’ll never see the light of day as you roam 1.68 million square feet of air-conditioned exhibition space.

The show has been the venue for trial balloons and countless hopes and dreams. The VCR and DVD were unveiled at CES. So was the Palm Pre. But it has never achieved the status of a single SteveNote – those hot-ticket presentations by Apple’s Steve Jobs, who often spoke about one product and never more than you could count on one hand.

Even the demos that Apple hosts have begun to seem anti-climactic. Gadget press conferences have become relatively rare, and are usually a sign that a manufacturer thinks it may have to manage the message. A company will usually let a product that sells itself go right ahead and do so. Or they’ll balance unpredictable reviews with huge marketing campaigns.

You want buzz? Give Wired’s Steven Levy, the Wall Street Journal‘s Walt Mossberg and the New York Times‘ David Pogue an advance copy and I guarantee if you’ve got something, the buzz will cause genuine production delays. (Also, I’m reviewing tech now for Reuters, so you know…)

One hundred or so tablets have been introduced at CES? I bet you can’t name five, and think only one is any good. Don’t you remember that 3D TV was hyped as the Next Great Thing at CES – not once, but twice in the past three years. Now ultra HD is the rage.

Veteran tech journalists: Just think how much capital you’ll bank by telling your editor you’re sure you can cover CES from your mother’s basement in Bayonne, New Jersey. Newbies: Take a stand by standing pat. What if they gave a convention — and nobody came?


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The only thing more outdated than CES is … writing an article about why you’re not at CES.

Posted by KurdtCobain | Report as abusive

Exactly, in the internet era, CES is just an excuse for all the “geeks” to flight to Vegas.

Posted by robb1 | Report as abusive

One of the most popular products at CES 2013 will still be Android tablets and one Android tablet maker that has gained attention this past year is Ainol Electronics – which recently introduced a few impressive and well-priced models that could serve as a follow up to winning “Runner-Up” status for “Best Tablet of the Year” at CES 2012 —

One of the first U.S. resellers to begin carrying the Ainol Electronics Novo brand is a site called TabletSprint — and the Novo 10 Hero II introduced last week is available at TabletSprint for $239 — this new model offers some of the best specs on the market today of any 10-inch tablet priced under $300 – and features a Quad Core processor, 1280×800 IPS screen, 16GB memory, a strong battery (8000 mAH), front and rear cameras, a MicroSD memory card slot (up to 32GB memory cards), Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, Google Play installed – with access to 400K+ Apps, a MicroUSB port for connection to printers and other electronic devices, HDMI – to view personal videos and to download movies and watch in full 1080p (HD) on to a large screen TV, WiFi, Bluetooth, Ethernet through a Micro-USB port, and an option for 3G/4G connection. It’s also a solid gaming device with its high resolution screen and motion gaming sensor. TabletSprint also conveniently offers a 10″ Compact Case with built-in Keyboard ($28) which easily transforms a tablet into a mini-laptop.

The Novo 7 Legend also launched in December, and may be considered the first quality “$100 TABLET” worth buying — featuring an IPS screen display (800×600), MicroSD storage, Android 4.1 O/S, Google Play, a MicroUSB port, and a processor good enough to handle 3D games — Plus WiFi, Ethernet and options for 3G/4G Connection.

Ainol Electronics is also expected to launch later this month a model similar to the Hero II – one that will offer a Quad Core processor and Liquid Crystal display (iPad Retina quality) for around $265 — the Novo Series should gain some notice at CES this year and seems off to a good start for 2013 with affordable tablets packed with the latest features.

Posted by HAPotter1000 | Report as abusive

Wow. I hope its not ONLY Apple, Amazon, Google that matter.

Posted by kappaluppa | Report as abusive

By that logic the next time you get comps to Superbowl Sunday you can post them to me (I will pay you for them at their list price) and watch it on the television instead. This will be much more cost effective and technology will be working for you just fine.

Posted by BidnisMan | Report as abusive

@BidnisMan I would. Because everybody knows that best way to enjoy the SuperBowl is to watch it on TV, fast forward through 90% of the game to watch the ads, and indulge in an edible spread rather than awful overpriced stadium food.

Going is a big compromise that only lets you brag about having been there.

Posted by johncabell | Report as abusive

@KurdtCobain Or, hearing yourself criticize an article about why you’re not at CES?

Posted by johncabell | Report as abusive

@kappaluppa Of course not. But not having Apple, Google and Amazon at a tech show there is like having an auto show wthout Ford, GM, and Mercedes.

Posted by johncabell | Report as abusive

@HAPotter1000 You are sort of making my point: Does Ainol Electronics have a better shot reaching out to individual tech reporters at its leisure or trying to get noticed in the bottomless pit that is CES? The same reporters who might be receptive back in their offices in February will probably not get to it at CES.

Posted by johncabell | Report as abusive

@johncabell fair observation, but no I’m not unhappy about not being there. My comment happened during the week when articles about people taking a stand about not going were flooding the internet, and this was the second year I saw that happen.

I had no interest for much of the same reasons you did: it seems like an old-style convention showcasing new products based on outdated ideas.

Posted by KurdtCobain | Report as abusive