MediaFile

Stop the CES madness

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.

Microsoft switches off CES

Microsoft, one of the most visible superpowers at the Consumer Electronics Show, has decided its keynote and booth at the upcoming event in January will be its last.

The world’s largest software company, which has long tried to boost the profile of its consumer business, usually puts up a huge duplex on the floor to show off its games, phones and other gadgets running its products at the Las Vegas jamboree. CEO Steve Ballmer is a regular keynote speaker, as Bill Gates was before him.

But the company is now admitting what it has said privately: that a show right after the holiday season just doesn’t fit its consumer product cycle. That is to say, Ballmer rarely has much new to say, when all its Xbox, phone and software news is done and dusted for the year.

CES: Please turn off your phones and your Wi-Fi

English literature teachers, please tell me if I’m wrong to call this ironic.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is all about technology, and pack journalists and tech experts all over the world say that wireless will be the next big boom. So why are various companies at this year’s CES begging and in some cases instructing people not to use their wireless devices or their Wi-Fi connections?

Here’s an email that my colleague Alexei Oreskovic received.

Alexei:

We have all heard of or experienced Wi-Fi challenges at high-profile events.

Please help our sponsors demonstrate their products. We ask you to turn off your phone before you enter Showstoppers tonight. If you can’t do that, please turn off Wi-Fi access on your smartphone and other mobile devices, including all mobile hotspot devices and anything else that acts as a mobile access point.

CES: One strip club, one Howard Stern producer and 125,000 friends

In my second day of searching for the most interesting and interestingly written press releases about the Consumer Electronics Show, I came across what appears to be an invitation for 125,000 people:

LAS VEGAS–(Business Wire)– Gary Dell`Abate, best-selling author and long-time producer of The Howard Stern Show will host a party January 8th at Rick`s Cabaret Las Vegas, to which he has invited all fellow attendees of the world-famous Consumer Electronics Show. The club is part of the Rick`s Cabaret International, Inc. (NASDAQ:RICK) group of upscale gentlemen`s clubs.

The party will take place at the club at 3355 Procyron Street at Desert Inn Boulevard, just off the Las Vegas Strip, starting at 10 p.m. Dell`Abate will be in town to attend the CES, which he hosted last year. Dell`Abate will be assisted in his hosting duties by beautiful, raven-haired adult star Daisy Duxe, who has appeared in over 150 popular adult films. She is appearing as part of an adult-star extravaganza at the club, where blonde centerfold model and adult star Prinzzess appears on Friday night January 7th.

CES: Achieve new positions

If you’re going to Las Vegas, you might as well go to bed in public. And what better way to do that than on a mattress whose ability to achieve new positions is unrivaled? Leonard Cohen would be jealous.

Yes, it’s true.  There will be a mattress on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center starting January 6 for the 2011 CES show.

Actually, it will be in the Vivon Life booth (South Hall, lower level #22057).  It may be the first sleep mattress ever to be shown at the Consumer Electronics Show and we think it will get people to turn their heads and take notice.

CES: You will take this meeting. You will take this meeting.

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES as most people call it, produces approximately 1 million press releases for every person who attends the annual Las Vegas technology trade show. (Think: “There are 8 million stories in the Naked City. This has been one of them.”)

Here are excerpts from my favorite one so far:

CARDIFF, Calif.,  Jan. 4, 2011  /PRNewswire/ –  Mind Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets: JEDM), announced today that the Company’s management team will be attending the  Consumer Electronics Show (CES)  Conference in  Las VegasJanuary 6-9, 2011.

“We have been contacted by several media outlets for an interview and explanation of our software products,” said Mind Technologies CEO and President,  Brent Fouch. “This particular conference is rich with opportunities for us to build relationships and expose our company to thousands of people at the same time. This is an excellent way for us to kick off our aggressive marketing program we have lined up for 2011,” concluded Fouch.

Does OLED TV have a future?

sony oled

Two years ago at the annual Consumer Electronics Show,  Sony unveiled an OLED television — that’s an Organic Light Emitting Diode TV. It was sleek, sporting credit-card thinness, superior picture quality and energy efficiency, and some thought the technology might eventually overtake plasma and LCD. Its only hang-up was sticker shock: $2,000 for an 11-inch screen. No worries — the price will drop and demand will rise and more units are manufactured, right?

Maybe not. Sony has pulled the plug on OLED TV sales in Japan due to poor sales. It is still difficult — and expensive — to make big OLED displays, especially when prices for other forms of TVs are shrinking while sizes are increasing. Sony showed off a slightly bigger models at this years CES, including a 3D prototype. As for the models on store shelves,  New York Electronics retailer J&R Music and Computer World is selling one for $1,500 after a whopping $1,000 discount.

But OLED isn’t dead: LG, which bought Kodak’s OLED business, showed off retail-ready 15-inch OLED TVs at this years CES.

$800 per family for 3D TV glasses?

ces 3d tv

Big time gadget makers filled this years this year’s Consumer Electronics Show with 3D TV’s,  promising that consumers can enjoy an “Avatar”-like experience at home some time this year. And the news is even better — research firm Gartner says that it only costs about 15 percent more to make a 3D TV than a regular flat screen,  so the TVs may be affordable.

Here’s the thing. The glasses. You must have them. And they are fragile. And they cost a lot. Like, more than the TV itself, if you’ve got a big family.  Gartner analyst Van Baker explained on a conference call:

“If you are talking about a family of four, that’s $400-$800 you are going to be spending on the micro-shutter glasses. Not to mention that the glasses can be lost and can be broken.”

CES: iPod Guitar and Intel computing wall (video)

AS CES wraps up in Las Vegas, here are two clips showcasing cool technology from the floor, one from an unknown company, another from one of the big boys. Each displays the kind of keen forward thinking that can be found all over the Las Vegas show.

Here is an demonstration of Fingerist, from Evenno. Yes he is “strumming” “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple — on an iPod Touch.

And here is a display of one possible future of massive multi-user computing power, from Intel. I wish I had tech like that to help quicken the time it took to post to this very blog.

CES live blog

Our live blog features contributions from Reuters Staff as well as our Guest Bloggers: Michael Gartenberg (gartenberg), vice president of strategy and analysis at Interpret; James McQuivey (jmcquivey), vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research ; Mike Vorhaus (mikevorhaus), president of Magid Advisors; Avi Greengart (avigreengard), research director of consumer devices at Current Analysis; Ross Rubin, Director of Industry Analysis at NPD (rossrubin, npdtech displaysearch.)