So, they’ve had this big steel arch thingy at CES for as long as I can remember,
and the structure was 3 dimensional and three-sided. In the early days it was open, uncovered, and sort of ‘framework’ or ‘ industrial’ looking, and it had neon lights in it on some of the struts. Then, about a decade ago, I guess the lights broke, so they started covering it with thin black fabric, gave it a new look, and still said “CES” on it, and it spanned the walkway just inside the main entrance in the Central Hall. And what was really cool about it is that it was fatter on the ends, and thinner in the middle. A little harder to build, but very ‘artsey’. You can see it here in my 2014 CES Summary. Well, I don’t know what happened, but this year it was replaced with a new one that is just as long, still 3 sided, in the same place at the show, but it is linear in it’s thickness, the same triangular dimension all the way across, and it looks like crap compared to the old one. No styling to it at all, just a boring half-circle arch, like a child would draw or something. (see pic at right) Now, I’m glad that if the old one got accidentally destroyed or something, that they bothered to make a new one to retain the tradition, but why couldn’t they make it stylish like the first one? Have we lost the skill or technology or artistry or desire to produce it properly as it was many decades ago? I don’t think so. It’s fairly obvious that they just wanted to save a few bucks and just 'do the minimum’. And it really pisses me off. Not just this arch sign, but almost everything you see done nowadays is subjected to this ‘oh, it’s good enough’ mentality. And my theory is that it rubs off on everyone, subconsciously, and makes everyone else feel like just doing the minimum as well. Anyway, sorry, I didn’t mean to start off on such a whiny note. But it just torques my manifold, like a short fuse on a cheese curd. If you know what I mean. I hope so. Although I might be mixing metaphors there.
Now, the rest of the show was pretty damned good. ‘Bout 180,000 people all pumped up, to see over 1500 booths showing all kinds a new stuff, some of it downright spooky and magical how it can do some crazy shit. There was some rain the first day. 1.3 inches in one day, which is over a quarter of that city’s total annual rainfall. Streets flooded, traffic apocalypse. Then the power went out partially for over two hours, leaving some of the booths dark. It’s kinda hard to have an electronics show without electrons. ’Never ’seen the power even glitch in all my 38 years of attendance there. So that was new. Let’s see, what else,…. This year’s show was all about how cars are gonna drive themselves…they even had a motorcycle that drove itself?!?!?!?!? Now what’s the point of that? And also this years’ show was really big on being able to talk to your house or car or speaker or whatever, and have it tell you what the weather is like, or if there’s a traffic jam ahead, or stuff like that. Which, I don’t know about you, but I can look out the window and see the weather, or look out the windshield and see the traffic!? But anyway, that was the biggest gadget in every booth. Somethin’ to talk to,… and have it talk back to you. Big business. I mean, really. It’s like we’re running outta things to invent or something?
There was a JetPack there. Remember how they told us in the 60’s that we’d all be flying’ jetpacks by the 80’s? - 90’s tops.? By the time they perfect it, they’ll be self-driving jetpacks, and we won’t ever get to go! I saw a chess game board that was playing itself. ‘Saves you a lot of time, I guess. I saw a robot vacuuming the floor - a full size robot,…using a full size vacuum! That’ll sure free up some time! Sony had their new improved robot dog Aibo back again. This time he’s hundred’s of times smarter and learns things about you the more you play with him. $1,700, one time. That’s a lot cheaper than a real dog. And you don’t have to take him for a walk to do his business. That’ll save time. I just wonder what we’re saving all this time for? I guess we can watch more TV. They have TV’s that look so real it’s like you’re looking out a window. A clean window! Oh, they have window-cleaning robots now too. A few years ago they showed OLED TV’s in every booth. A little tiny LED for each pixel. No LCD (liquid crystal display). No backlighting. Just individual LED’s that turn off completely for black, which makes for infinite contrast. But then, they decided it would cost too much and so all of the TV brands except LG never came out with them. And the LG OLED TV’s were like, five times more expensive than the same size regular LCD/LED backlit sets, so sales were very slow. But they stuck with them, and found enough customers that wanted that much contrast to pay that much money. And eventually,...three years later (as in, now), they all found a way to bring the manufacturing costs down a bit, and LG had shown that there was a big enough chunk of TV buyers that wouldn’t mind spending maybe three times as much for a TV again, if it meant they could have “inky blacks” and phenomenal picture quality. And so, the LED TV’s are back! And in every booth. And shipping immediately!
So, there’s that. TV’s suddenly got a lot better looking. They’re also doing a lot with built-in fast computers that process every frame of video as it’s displayed, which makes them look even better. And, of course, slowly but surely, there’s more 4K content to view, which really makes these new machines shine! 4K BluRay is growing as well. Speaking of 4K, computer monitors with 4K resolutions (3840x2160) are finally below $300 and are popping up on people’s work stations with greater frequency. If you’re on your computer much each day, they’re a joy to look at, and can help reduce eye fatigue. Some are 21:9 ultra widescreen ratio and allow for three documents to be displayed simultaneously. And THIS is where a curved screen actually makes sense, unlike in a TV room, because you’re in a single, fixed position, and it maintains your focal distance.
Cosmo is a brake light for any scooter/bike/motorcycle, and uses an accelerometer to indicate that you’re slowing. This is the best folding e-bike I know of. A cool little projector for Nintendo Switch game console owners. USB-C is growing and getting faster, and Hyperdrive has the best hubs. Monitor-io will track the performance of your internet service and tell you all kinds of things you didn’t know you wanted to know. Source is an amazing system that mounts on the roof of your home like a solar panel, actually there is a solar panel in it too so it doesn’t need any power at all, and it extracts perfectly pure water out of the air for you to drink. Makes a few liters a day for life and costs $2,500 one time. Here’s a sensor that helps prevent accidentally leaving a child or pet sleeping in a hot car. And this is a whole new way to input text on your phone. Takes a week or so to learn and then it’s lightening fast!
I got a delicious free waffle from Logitech. Well, it wasn't totally free. It turns out that they want you to post about it on social media. I said "sure", since I love all the stuff Logitech makes anyway. So they gave me the waffle and said "O.K. just post a pic of you on Twitter and/or Instagram" I said I didn't have either of those, and they looked at me like I was an alien or something. Then they said "How 'bout Facebook?" and I said "Oh, sure, I have the Facebook (I threw the 'the' because Betty White had made that "the twitter" joke a few years ago and gotten a big laugh). But I didn't get a laugh,... they just stared at me again like I was starting to morph into a green blob, and then they said "Oh, O.K., yeah, well, can you post that on The Facebook and just add these two hashtags (pointing to their sign)?" So I said "Hash...? You mean post these words,...and do you want me to put that little tic-tac-toe thingy in front of them like that?" (just to screw with them) - And sure enough, once again, they were speechless for a moment while they stared hard, turning their heads a little like dogs do. I just wanted to give them something to talk about after working a long hard trade show.
So progress marches on. No matter the state of the economy or the political climate, inventors’, now called ‘visionaries’, will continue to think up cool stuff and work hard to bring it to the world. Not just for the possibility of making bank, but to say to the world “isn’t that neat? it’s my gift to society!”
- Next year,….my 40th consecutive CES attendance! See you there!