Thinking About CES

Posted on January 5, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Paul with 22 Comments

Thinking About CES

After a years-long absence, I returned to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). I’m kind of mixed on it, frankly.

On the plus side, we’ve been having a good time. Brad and I have stumbled through the cavernous Las Vegas Convention Center, and have found technology is both profound and just weird. It’s nice to actually see products in person, of course, and that, I think, was the one thing I did miss from the past several years.

But CES is a mess. It’s long outgrown the city-sized LVCC and now spills over into surrounding hotels and their own smaller event spaces like a metastasizing cancer. Most of the products here—probably over 90 percent—are utter crap, and not worth the time it would take to mention them.

What I’d like to see here is more organization, though if you’re really paying attention, you’ll learn that the types of things we care about here—mostly PCs and the like—can in fact be found offsite, in other places, and at other events. Which, to keep coming up with dumb comparisons, latch onto CES like remoras latch onto sharks. (Sorry, I’m tired.)

More specifically, PC makers like Dell, HP, Lenovo and others, and Microsoft, can be found in hotels near the LVCC. And events like Pepcom and Showstoppers provides just enough exposure to products that really matter that one might consider skipping the LVCC entirely.

If I do come back next year, I may do exactly that.

Part of the problem is the travel: An inexplicable 6 hours in the air from Boston. Part is the cost: Hotel prices skyrocket during CES. Part is the crowd: There are five times as many people here as there are in my hometown, and getting a cab or Uber is time-consuming. The whole thing is just exhausting.

Consider my schedule over the past 24 hours: Complete recording Windows Weekly, kiss the wife and kids goodbye, and head to the airport. Six hours in the air, land after 1 am (my time) and then spend a crazy amount of time standing in three long lines: The badge pickup at the Las Vegas airport, the taxi line (Uber wait times were 30 minutes or more), and then the check-in line at the hotel. I stood in that last line for 40 minutes, and by the time I fell into the most terrible bed in the most terrible hotel room I’ve had in years, it was 3 am (for me; midnight in Vegas).

I woke up at 5:30 (8:30 to me) because I don’t usually sleep late. Worked a bit, looked for and did not find breakfast, dressed, showered, met up with Brad, and headed out in a cab that then got stuck in traffic. Because CES.

As I write this, we’ve walked over 10,000 steps in the LVCC, had a few meetings, shot tons of videos (which Brad will post), and are waiting on a Cortana in cars announcement. Tonight, we have four events to attend. And I still need to write, of course. You know, my job.

It’s not all bad: Sometimes I see old friends too.

I know, first world problems. But I’d love to see a CES that was just for PC. And maybe next year, I’ll make my own version of that by skipping the LVCC entirely.

I’ll need a year to think on that one.


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