CES Unveiled – NYC Pre-show

November 11, 2008

I’m currently on a Fung Wah bus (bad judgement) from the Consumer Electronics Show Press Briefing (good judgement) and I’m trying to sort out the stuff I learned about this afternoon.

Everything I saw, save two items, was just an improvement on existing technology. If that’s what the world is about, that’s fine, but my editors are asking me to find the next great thing.

Perhaps that’s how all newsrooms operate. And I know that’s how it is after 20 years in the business. But in a down economy that’s seeing venture capital evaporate and layoffs come back at a greater pace than when F&*^%$Company.com was around, I don’t think miracles are going to show up on the CES Exhibit Floor.

Maybe I’m mistaken. Maybe the people like Motorola, with dual touchscreen technology will wow consumers and the media. Maybe miniature projectors will become the rage as kids decide to host parties where they can show YouTube videos on gym walls, and maybe headphone technology has taken another leap forward with advances in materials and sound limiter tech. But I’m not sure.

The event tonight promised to give us things to think about, and it did. It was totally worth the bus trip (barring a horrible, skin-scalding, shield your child’s eyes implosion) and the expense of $42 for transportation, $2 for a pretzel and $12 for a meal in Chinatown.

I think I have five solid stories. I have a new contact at Popular Science. I still have a shot at getting Diana Ross tickets. And I’m poised to make CES 2009 a masterpiece of journalistic perfection.

That being said, I am certainly glad I didn’t fly out here from California or even from another country. The paltry hall featuring 50 or so exhibitors was hardly worth a cross-country or international journey. Nor was the weak press conference.

The best info I got from being there early was that the coat check room was free and that CEA did a ton of great research that I’m gonna use for article background in January.

Other than that, the live filming of Jeopardy, the Diana Ross concert, the Silver Summit (seniors need apply), all was info that I could have gotten online from the comfort of my living room.

I’m not faulting the event, but am saying that in a time of fiscal conservativism, maybe this isn’t the way new media will be conducted. The open bar, great food and freebies from exhibitors may dry up again like they did in 2000. So doesn’t it make sense to pull in the reins a little bit now and save the industry than to go out with a monstrous bang?

I’m just asking becuase that seems to be my destiny as I hurtle homeward on Fung Wah.

Keep reading!