There were quite a few Shinies at CES today, and we attacked the halls with a divide and conquer mentality that ensured that we saw lots and reported lots to you guys. Ashley and I took the South Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Centre, which, despite the presence of a few big names, are mostly populated by smaller or mid-sized companies, many of whom hope to be the big names of the future.
As such, some of the really fun, barking mad and exciting products are here. Sure, it's wonderful to hear of new releases from the big leagues, but in the end all the announcements seemed to blur into one for me. HD, you say? Yeah, I think I heard all about that. And on a day-to-day level, I suppose these are the products I'll be buying / saving to buy / aspiring to buy. But by stepping back and taking in the big picture I found myself hugely enjoying the chance to see what's weird, wonderful or even slightly offbeat.
Admittedly some of the products got our attention for the hint of wtf they carried with them. I'm not sure how safe in-car karaoke can possibly be, even without the active participation of the driver, but I absolutely loved the idea of it. And yet other ideas like the removable wireless speakers are not earth-shattering but quite simple and sensible and you can see them becoming very much a part of mainstream manufacturing.
We had all commented between ourselves that the toys at CES Unveiled were more exciting than the gadgets. Maybe the reason I was happier shuttling through the smaller stands and checking out petite but familiar favourites like Freeplay Energy was because they still had the excitement that is lost at the slicker stands. It's lovely to trudge across Nokia's plush carpet and listen to a carefully rehearsed spiel, but much more fun to meet some of the B List and see the hunger, enthusiasm and self-belief that resides there. You're also far more likely to get to the nitty gritty faster, and far less likely to be left waiting for "someone who knows about that" when you ask a sales person for some information.
I've worked the business end of a conference as a tech support person. Not only was there no excuse for not knowing my regular job, I had to know everything about being a presenter and a salesperson too. It was pretty unforgiveable to keep a stand visitor waiting. But (and remember this is my first experience of CES altogether) I found that the bigger the stand, the more you needed to wait for a dedicated, vetted person to get any information.
I say think big in innovation and small in service. Then you might just get it right.
Alexandra Roumbas is Deputy Editor of Shiny Shiny and feels privileged to be at CES for the first time.