CES equals OMG!!!

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Onsite registration can take a while at CES. Luckily, I was able to pick up my badge at my hotel. // Michael E. Bakich
I thought I was used to big conventions. After all, this summer will be my seventh trip to San Diego Comic-Con — the biggest and best pop-culture convention on the planet. More than 160,000 people attend it.

Enter a new reality. This week, I’m at CES (the gathering formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. I gotta tell you, CES is like ten Comic-Cons smashed together, shaken violently, and emptied into a venue larger than some asteroids.

'Senses overload' is the best description as I moved just inside the main entrance of the South Hall. // Michael E. Bakich
Today was my first day, one I’ll call “the tourist awakens.” I only have one appointment, at 5 p.m., so after breakfast, I picked up my press badge at my hotel (a nice convenience), boarded the shuttle bus, and off I went to the Las Vegas Convention Center.

After walking and talking for three hours — and covering about 20 percent of the exhibits — I exited the building. That’s when it hit me. I had been in the South Hall. Just the South Hall. Looming ahead like behemoths from some classic videogame were the Central Hall and the North Hall. Ouch!

Just the 'Drones' exhibition area at CES is larger than almost every other convention I've attended. // Michael E. Bakich
OK, into the Central Hall … wait, what??? “I’m sorry, sir, we can’t let anyone in because the power is out. Yes, sir, in all the halls.” If you had told me this would happen, I would have prepared to watch a riot unfold. But, no, people actually took it in stride, abandoning the line for the Central Hall and moving north about 40 feet to the lines for Big Daddy’s Bar-b-Que. Better have cash. Their power is out, too.

Unlike astronomy conventions where I’m familiar with every product, my initial tour of CES was at a fairly slow pace, a fact many people who had actual destinations reminded me of as they jostled past me and raced ahead. I couldn’t match their pace because I was actually looking at all the displays. If I had to estimate, I’m probably unfamiliar with 99 percent of the stuff here. Ooo, is that a new camera? No, it’s a smart-home controller. Ah, is that a new telescope? No, it’s a submersible drone.

As I tried to enter the Central Hall, one of the guards told me that the halls were locked because of a site-wide power outage. // Michael E. Bakich
Still, there’s plenty here to draw my attention and that of the magazine’s readers. Expect several stories and equipment reviews to originate right here during the next few days.

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