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.


Tagged with

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (22)

22 responses to “Thinking About CES”

  1. 214

    Feel your pain, Paul, feel your pain...

    Back when it all started - we PC folks were forced to share space with the "big guys" at the NCC. In 1984 we showed our PC with a very nice drawing program - and two fellows from DEC got angry and started tearing into the back of our booth - looking for the minicomputer they insisted was necessary to do what we were doing. Canadian TV was doing a show about our company and followed us around shooting. At show's end, after I'd done at least 48 hours without sleep, the director asked me if I was pleased at the great response we'd had. I replied; "At least it doesn't hurt so much." They declared the shoot a wrap and dragged me to a late performance by comedan Joan Rivers. I fall sound asleep when my fanny hit the chair. But, as my entourage later told me, I sat up and laughed out loud at every punchline, then would instantly fall back in the chair - much to the amusement of Ms. Rivers who wove my stupor into the act :-)

    Of course, we soon had our own LV show - Comdex. And then Comdex outgrew its britches as the technologies exploded into less tech-centric personal electronics at the CES.

    I haven't been to CES in more than a decade. I actually think the pace would kill me now.

    What next? A completely virtualized show? Pourquoi pas? 

    I miss the sheer joy of immersion in technology :-)

  2. 514

    Back in the mid to late 80's I was Director of Advanced Technology Research at Salomon Brothers, and Comdex was one of my unenviable chores. Back then (as apparently now) Comdex filled the LVCC and 6 or 7 other hotel convention sites.  The lines for cabs were agonizingly long, and the walking walking walking (well I was a lot younger then :grin). The booth shills looking to get your attention were exhausting.

    One year my secretary forgot to make my hotel reservations (needed to be done a year in advance).  The nearest room was in a motel in Kingman, Arizona (90 miles away).  Instead, I had her book me a room at the airport in Denver, Colorado, and I flew to Las Vegas each day (and returned in the evening) -- worked well.

  3. 7280

    Paul, you wrote that you "...dressed, showered, met up with Brad...". I see your problem. You should have showered and THEN got dressed!  ha ha ha

    Really like the new logo intro you have to your videos with the big "T"


  4. 5592

    "But I’d love to see a CES that was just for PC. "

    It was called Comdex and it was known for high hotel prices, lack of taxis, spilling out of the LVCC into hotels and lots of long lines while everybody complained about the lack of anything really interesting since everybody introduced their new products a week or two early so they could avoid competing for press exposure.

    I miss it a lot.

    • 2532

      In reply to MikeGalos:

      I got to goto comdex once. Then shortly thereafter it stop being. It was fun. Microsoft had a massive booth. But with the internet you really don't have to go to any of these places. Unless a company is footing the bill. Which was the case for comdex for me.

  5. 9412

    I have been much more interested in this year's news from CES than I have been in awhile. I have watched several of your videos. The have been a lot of interesting laptops. I am looking to replace my MacBooK Pro and the new ones look too expensive and I need Type A USB ports.  

  6. 9903

    I live close to where ces was and it was hell getting to work, so I definitely  know what you mean in this article

  7. 9900

    I went to Ignite this year in Vegas, Nevada. Vegas isn't my kind of town. But next year they are moving Ignite to Vancouver, B.C. (yes!) lots of hiking, biking and kayaking are in my future... and a 3k run, after work of course. CES really should consider moving it to some place like Vancouver, where people can get outdoors and have fun after the daily events.

  8. 5400

    They really have to got to stop having conventions in this forsaken hell-hole of a city. I know they have a bunch of hotel rooms and a large convention center, but it makes me never want to get with 50 miles of this place with the horrible traffic, super overpriced hotel rooms, food and snacks, and general yuppified casinos and shopping that has made this into a town for only the very boring well-to-do's. And I only go here once every three years for the con-expo. How about having conventions in a real city that is centralized like Chicago, Kansas City, Austin or anywhere else.

  9. 3114

    Well Paul wish you stopped by Sleep Number booth and relaxed a bit in a great bed :)  Aside from that CES is a big mess and switching between sands and lvcc is a total cluster... lines, lines, lines everywhere... Well hope you enjoy the rest of your trip :)

  10. 1001

    Too bad COMDEX doesn´t exist anymore, this was exactly the PC expo that described - CES minus the uninteresting crap.

    • 2

      In reply to ibmthink:

      Indeed. It was business focused only, but yes.

      • 214

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        Well, there was more to it than "just" business. Yes, we struggling young companies had to sell our stuff through channels that were themselves just emerging. The NCC had been for the "real" computer companies, but once IBM legitimized the biz by introducing the PC - we quickly needed our own place - we were smothered in suits at the NCC. 

        So who were the attendees? The suits setting up channels, of course, but also a huge supporting staff of guys working in the electronics biz - many if not most of whom were among the most passionate early adopters of computers. By and by the suits once again outnumbered the inventors. And as you note: the PC was again relegated to a supporting role - not the star - in CES. 

        But I could not exaggerate how exhilarating those times were :-)

  11. 774

    Paul, "...most terrible bed in the most terrible hotel room I’ve had in years..." 

    Does that go back to THAT odd hotel in San Francisco a few years back, or even farther?

    • 2

      In reply to johnbaxter:

      The one in San Francisco was worse, absolutely.

      Also, I stayed in the Gold Coast about 20 years ago in Vegas. Also worse. :)

      • 1243

        In reply to Paul Thurrott:

        Oh God, the Gold Coast. What a dump! I used to stay there in the 90s with my uncle when we took our annual trip to Vegas. He said he wanted to save his money for gambling and food and not waste it on a fancy room. 

  12. 8121

    Drinking helps a lot 

  13. 8850

    It sounds like an arduous experience Paul with exhaustion being the end result of it all. Agreed a PC only focused show would make this more interesting and not attract all and sundry to what looks like a nightmare in Vegas.

  14. 4800

    Take the monorail.  That has got to be faster than driving (either in a cab, uber, or a rental car).