CES 2009: A Non-product Review

2009 seems to be a year that promises uncertainty over anything else. Escalating financial and environmental troubles, wars, HDMI concerns and a new president who inspires hope when reality is showing there is still further down to go before we hit rock bottom.

Nevertheless, a trip to Vegas with steadfast focus on the latest in consumer electronics, (most importantly Paradigm/Anthem and  The New American Home) with a dash of the local culture is just the penicillin one needs to throw all their worrisome thoughts and New Year’s resolutions away.

According to complex algorithms, CES ranked highest in its inter-exhibit transportation efficiency, delivering me and a constant flow of electronics enthusiasts with a great deal of expedience to our intended destinations. Not once did I wait more than 10 minutes to board a bus between the Sands/Venetian and LVCC and I even caught the Monorail back to the Flamingo one evening without even having to jostle. I did witness many shivering and sore-footed soles strung together for resort shuttles and taxi lines but I can only walk in my shoes so the algorithm doesn’t apply to them.  

New CES Shuttles greatly reduced travel time between exhibits.
New CES Shuttles greatly reduced travel time between exhibits.
If you managed to avoid convention center food and opted for the outside barbecue, complimentary fare and restaurant cuisine as I did, you were probably OK. However, one anonymous industry colleague of mine described a chicken ceasar salad he ordered from the convention center concessions as, “a sliver of soggy gray meat, over wilted romaine with spongy squares of bread made edible by overly seasoned dressing.”
High marks for entertainment and cuisine go to Sound & Vision for their awards party held at the Sugarcane Lounge in the Palazzo Resort . Complimentary beer, wine and mojitos were served alongside lightly grilled fresh tuna tacos, beef on a stick, sushi rolls, and other creatively prepared pass hors d’oeuvres. Sound and Vision brought the house and there was comfortable mingling and handshakes all around as awards were handed out. Even Howard Stern producer and S&V guest editor Gadget Gary Dell’Abate mixed with the commonfolk tolerating some fanboy praise and partaking in the free spirits. 

Despite Bababooey’s presence, the top culinary experience of the trip had to be the evening of the New American Home event. After unswervingly holding a sign for two hours directing potentially misguided guests to a waiting shuttle, I arrived to a luxury home with no less than 18 different kinds of cheese, crabcakes, hummus, salad caprese, boursin-stuffed mushrooms and other apertifs that made the gold-flaked wine and ice cold Heineken go down smoother than a fur-lined bowling alley.

Afterwards, to celebrate a successful event, we headed to Craft Steakhouse in a hundred-person (est.) Excursion Limousine where there was additional noshing on oysters, grilled prawns, cremini mushrooms and of course, Bessie.

The pulse of the show seemed upbeat but slower than usual. In the Venetian, elevators were still crowded with curmudgeonly audiophiles, manufacturers and other A/V players taking in demos and discussing whose fidelity is higher.

The lobby and casino area of the Sands/Venetian included a mishmash of the aforementioned mixed in with a group of taut, pierced, enhanced and sometimes submissive AVN Award EXPO attendees who added a certain level of intrigue and awkwardness to those who are used to discussing three-way speakers and not three-way…well you get the point.
While no one product stole the show and the big story seemed to be the potential postponing of the DTV Transition, one thing remains certain in these times of growing uncertainty…CES is one hell of a distraction.
Posted by: Nick

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