What happens at CES …. Stays at CES?
The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is huge; the largest in the show’s history. One cannot help but be impressed by the 153,000 peak attendance as well as 3100 exhibiting companies showcasing 20,000 new products on 1,861,000 net square feet of exhibit space.
The first CES was held in 1967 in New York City and was moved permanently in 1998 to Las Vegas, Nevada. This editor was at the first Winter Consumer Electronics Show (WCES) held in Las Vegas in 1978 and was again privileged to attend 2012 International CES which was held January 10-13, reporting for ABT for his third year in a row. This time we have a different viewpoint of CES which we would like to share with our readers. There is much more to CES than what an attendee will see on the convention floor.
The CES name is 2012 International CES, indicating the ever-increasing scope of the event. This year got the all-time record for any trade show. Look at the picture above. The Hilton in the distance houses many CES exhibits. In about 15 minutes at a very fast walk, you can walk from the Convention Center’s South Hall, past the Central and North Halls to the skybridge connecting CES to the Hilton.
If you look West, you will see the Wynn and the Encore towers hosting many more vendors for private showings, for transacting of business, and for making contacts. This year, ABT got to meet with more than a dozen companies and got a better look behind the scenes than last year.
These hotels look close because of their large size but are approximately a 20 minutes fast walk away. Looking left beyond the Encore and the Wynn, to the South is the Las Vegas Strip where the Bellagio, the Palazzo, Caesar’s Palace, Mirage and many other fine hotels, each hosting many more exhibiting companies to which their partners and often the media are invited for product briefings.
This editor couldn’t resist the offer of a limo ride by Cooler Master who is celebrating their 20th anniversary. Of course there is the swag and the after-CES parties, but we will save something to tell for next year’s CES article.
Traffic in downtown Las Vegas is very heavy like many other major US cities, and CES added at least 153,000 visitors right into their downtown. So often it is quicker to walk then to wait for a taxi or a shuttle. Flexibility coupled with a smile and a ready apology are often necessary even with the most careful of scheduling and a cell phone or smart phone becomes a critical tool for keeping appointments.
Los Vegas resources get strained to the maximum and sometimes a major resort’s entire wireless broadband system will go down for many hours to perhaps days in any average $500-a-night suite. Yes, room prices more than double during CES although a budget conscious traveler can easily stay 3 miles away, off the strip at a Motel 6 for under $35 a night. Las Vegas public transportation is excellent and buses will bring the visitor right to the convention and a 24-hour bus pass is cheap.
The Las Vegas Monorail is directly across from CES and dozens of shuttle buses stand ready to take the show’s attendees back and forth to venues that are off of the main site. Just remember that when someone tells you that the Bellagio is directly across the street from Caesar’s Palace, it is true, but it still may be a 20 minute walk – from the parking garage of one hotel, through both casinos and up the elevators into the suites where you are meeting. CES 2012 weather was also again perfect for a Las Vegas Winter, with sunny daytime temperatures in the low 60s Fahrenheit and nights only required wearing a light jacket.
CES is not a public event but rather a trade show for the electronics industry. They treat their press rather well. As an experienced attendee, this editor knew to take only the barest of essentials along with wearing the most comfortable walking shoes. This year, all of the meetings and appointments of four days had to be compressed into two days and at 7:00 AM on Tuesday began two all-day marathons that certainly included ten miles of walking for each day.
There are at least six separate maps to cover all of the exhibit areas. After one has walked through aisle after aisle of just one huge building, you begin to realize that it is just one floor – and there is an upstairs or downstairs of the same size! And there are many such exhibit areas!! Fortunately, there are helpful people hired by CES to direct you to where you want to go although they often get lost themselves.
Security is everywhere but there are no visible metal detectors and backpacks are welcome. Each attendee has to wear a badge and the press are treated nicely with a free lunch every day. The food is very expensive otherwise – consider paying nearly $3 for a bottle of water at the show. There is also a free press bag for the media that doubles as a backpack and is better designed than last year’s. And there was plenty of swag available to the press.
The best presentations are those that you must be invited to. We got to meet with AMD’s officials and were able to reconnect with them since the last CES. We were treated to 5×2 Eyefinity where two of the five displays are devoted to video conferencing with your friends in multiplayer while you play cooperatively with them on-line. The far right and far left displays in this setup are used for video conferencing in real time, as you can see on the far-right screen. Imagine the possibilities when game developers integrate this kind of technology into the game itself!
At CES 2012, AMD introduced as available their 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN), next-generation Radeon HD 7970 DX11.1 desktop graphics card, as well as introducing notebook HD 7000 series mobility Radeons. Eyefinity has also been further improved for desktop and for mobile graphics.
Nvidia, AMD, Intel and many other manufacturers are considering 3D – TV, movies and games – as the next “big thing”. Just three years ago, the CEA estimated that over 2 million 3-D TV sets would be sold in 2010 and that by 2013, more than 25 percent of all televisions sold would be 3D televisions. This has proved to be a wildly over-optimistic prediction but PC gaming appears to be leading the way. Here is Nvidia’s second generation, 3D Vision 2 with LightBoost technology.
Of course, all of the big names are here – Microsoft has a huge booth across from Intel, and this CES is Microsoft’s last CES. Samsung, LG, Sony, Toshiba, AMD and Nvidia are well represented along with the other giants of the industry. Much emphasis is also on ‘small’ with many significant developments coming in the mobile smart phone sector and in tablets. There is an entire huge section of floorspace at CES devoted to the iPhone and applications for it, even though Apple is not officially represented.
There is much space at CES devoted to gaming, to the auto industry and to just about everything “electronic” that one can imagine. This editor can only give a tiny slice of what he experienced in only two days at CES this year and we hope it is relevant to your interests. Much of the time ABT spent at CES was spent on PC-related products and especially on how they relate to PC gaming and PC hardware.
There were over 30,000 individual products on display at CES but certain categories got a disproportionate amount of interest. You could divide these up generally as follows, exactly as last year:
- TV – 3D/Connected/Smart
- Smartphones/Super-smart phones
- Wireless/Content everywhere
There were a lot of new tablet systems. As evidenced at CES, tablet PCs will be one of the top technology gadgets for 2012 and beyond. Staying on top of the trend, Nvidia touted the design wins of its next-generation Tegra 3 processor which is designed to complete the web browsing experience on tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices.
The tablet market continues to explode and many new versions and upgrades to existing versions were introduced this week at the 2012 International CES. Fujitsu’s new tablet can be submerged in water for up to one-half hour without damage, while Lenovo’s tablet can easily be converted into a notebook. And of course, cars and models were used to attract attention to the new products.
And of course there is an emphasis on gaming and especially connected mobile gaming. “Green” is also still very popular as a theme as power savings is always a good idea for consumers. Here we see a Delorian powered entirely by batteries in a NRG display.
No price for the fully electric Delorian was quoted. Expensive no doubt. CES acknowledges that the increasing growth of connected individuals will come via mobile, and not via the desktop. Marketers are interested in the behavior and values of individuals, and how to enrich their lives. It is noted that humans themselves have not changed much since they first gathered together in villages. Each person now has about 150 friends on Facebook, not very different from life in a village, thousands of years ago.