There are only two ways to explain why 140,000 people came to Las Vegas in early January to walk interminable miles across crowded exhibit floors, stand in cab and bus lines that seem to go on for miles, wait for hours to hear a forgettable Bill Gates keynote and contend with snow, rain and wind. The first is that we're all masochists. The other is that, despite the downsides, there's no place like it and we wouldn't miss it. Maybe both are true.
At a show with over 2500 exhibitors, perceptions of was important is all in the eyes of the beholder. This year we chose to single out the following topics:
A few things not mentioned later stuck in our minds from CES--one substantive and two on the lighter side.
Voice over IP has come of age. We saw many VoIP offerings and new phones to go with them. Vonage continues to lead the way, having achieved over 400,000 customers. One of their new introductions is a portable Wi-Fi handset through their partnership with UTStarcom. Among other attractions of the device is its ability to let you take your home phone number with you, find a Wi-Fi hotspot and start making calls on your Vonage account. ( www.vonage.com ) ( www.utstarcom.com )
The parking lot outside the convention halls this year were filled with more exhibition tents than ever. But if you wanted to chill out (literally!) you could stop and watch the snowboarding performances of experts heading down snow-covered Moto Mountain.
One other thing we came across in our wanderings was Global Pet Finder. The service uses GPS and 2-way wireless technologies to help you keep track of your pet. After attaching a small device to your pet's collar, you are immediately alerted "and sent the continuously updated exact location of your pet, sent to your cell phone, PDA or computer." Can you see the scenario? Middle of a meeting. Mobile phone rings. "Excuse me, but my pet is calling to tell me he is lost." The price is $349 for the device and $17.99/month for the "Peace of Mind" plan. ( www.globalpetfinder.com )