I’ve always associated Las Vegas with glamour, outrageous looking hotels,
glitz, Wayne Newton, slot-machine chimes, and all-you-can-eat buffets! But now, I’ll forever
think of the Consumer Electronics Show when someone mentions what has long been
known as ‘Sin City’.
Regarding the part about the
all-you-can-eat-buffets, I made Julie promise we wouldn’t eat at them the
whole time we were there, but little did I know…
Last week, Judie and I took a trek west to visit the
2002 International CES Show. A four day
techno-laden fest featuring 1.2 million square feet of exhibits displaying all
the latest in mobile electronics, digital audio/video, wireless, networking,
home theater, car audio, telephony, and gadgets from over 2000 vendors. We spent
a tiring couple of days visiting all the booths to see what cool new things we
could find to tell you about.
|We arrived on Wednesday (the show started on Tuesday) and took a shuttle bus
straight to our hotel: The Luxor. What a
cool hotel! It looked like a shiny black pyramid with a Sphinx in front.
|Inside there were huge Egyptian statues and other similar
That hotel is freaking huge (actually, they all are there) and on more than
one occasion, we found ourselves turned around and slightly lost. I should note
that Judie has a better internal compass than I do! :o)
Julie’s being modest – I got lost several times, too.
But, I did eventually figure out the lay of the place…
After we unpacked our stuff, we grabbed a taxi and headed to the convention
center to get our press credentials and to get acclimated to the area.
On the way to the convention center, we were asked if
we were there for the "convention". We said yes, thinking CES would be the only
one – little did we know that there was also a PORN convention in town that week also, at the appropriately named "Expo Center".
Checking in was quick and easy and we were delighted to receive a REALLY nice
backpack / rolling bag to use to hold all the pamphlets and info we would be
receiving from the different vendors.
The Press room was very impressive. Not only were all
of the vendor’s press kits readily available, Toshiba and some of the other
sponsors had laid out a spread of soft drinks, brownies and cookies. There were
plenty of places to plug in a laptop, clearly marked WiFi areas were available, and there was a room full of desktop
computers at our disposal.
With only 2 hours of show time left that day, we began our journey through aisle upon
aisle of gadgeteer dream fodder! Here are some of the items we found
The first booth that we visited was the Vtech
booth where they were displaying quite a few fun looking cordless phones
utilizing 900mhz, 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz.
I have a 2.4GHz phone system in my house which I
thought was FAB, but seeing that there was an available 5.8GHz was unreal! I mean,
you could almost do your evening walk and take your home phone with that sort of
Also displayed were two email appliances. The Companion and Companion II.
Both were stand alone email devices with nice size keyboards. These are
convenient products for people that just want email capability.
Our next stop was at a booth showing off the San Disk 1.0GB Compact Flash
card. This is a standard Type I CF card which can store, for example, 1000
digital images or 20 hours of digital music.
These high capacity cards are expected to be available in Q1 and will sell for
under $800. I want one!!! But ouch, they are pretty pricey.
Yah, the minute the guy told us the price I started
thinking about what I could live without in order to purchase one…
Always on the look out for cool handheld computers, this Windows CE wireless color
Samsung model caught our eye! The Nexio S150 which is already available in
Korea, sports a 5.1", and 16 bit color display. We both agreed that it was a really nice size and had a great screen.
As cool as it was, the Nexio reminded me just a little
too much of the Triton that Jules and I saw at
last year. Definitely something I would want to buy, but would I ever even be
given the opportunity? :0/
The only bad thing about trade shows is the fact that you see all these cool
products and a very large portion of them are either prototypes with simulated
screens, or are working devices that will never find their way to sales outlets
here in the US. It’s a real pity… I can see this type of handheld being very
popular here. I know I’d love one for doing some real surfing and work on the road.
Using a Pocket PC just doesn’t cut it when you want to browse the web.
Along that same vein of thought, Julie and I agreed
that many of the prototype devices at CES were possibly the only working units
that would ever see the light of day. We figured the manufacturers were coming
up with the ideas and then bringing their prototypes to CES hoping for financing
from a backer. Although it was great to see these cool ideas, it is kind of
unfair to the buyers attending the show, not to mention we reviewers…
At the Vivitar booth, they were showing off some interesting looking cameras
including this pistol grip model.
Some of the things we saw looked like they had been
created more for their fashion-sense than necessarily for function. This camera
was an example of that, in fact I believe it was actually called a "fashion cam"
Finally, we came across something Pocket PC related. This particular vendor was
displaying a library of Pocket PC films.
CDs with multiple movies can be purchased and then transferred to your Pocket PC
for viewing thru Media Player.
Of course, many of these films were older and slightly
obscure. There was however, a Cameron Diaz indie film that had just become available in
this format. Perhaps in the future there will be more current films
available as this is certainly a lot easier than ripping your own DVDs. These
movies come in the Media Player format right out of the box.
Wow, mobile phones were everywhere at CES! Everything from the phones
themselves, to snap-on face plates, and kooky flashing antennas were everywhere.
That is certainly the truth…evidently
epileptic-seizure-inducing flashing lights are all the rage now!
As you can see, the booth below had an incredible assortment of face plates.
Although Judie had seen them before, I had never seen the blinking antennas.
Yah, I saw the flashing antennas on e-bay last year – and when I asked my cellular
rep about them, I was told that installing one would void my warranty…wonder
if that is still the case? Not that I would want to install one, mind you…
My question is, how many people actually use or want these accessories for
their mobile phones? Is it mainly teenagers that find them cool, or do adults
get into them too? Personally, they are too flashy for me ;o)
Our next stop was at the Whereify
Wireless booth. The GPS Personal Locator was being shown there. Judie was
excited about looking at this watch. You can let your kids wear it and then
you’ll know where they are at all times. Although the watches are quite large, I
can see them as being very beneficial to parents. They would be great on trips
to theme parks etc.
Not just for theme parks, I thought it would be great
for simply letting your kid loose in the neighborhood. You can actually track
your child on the web while they are wearing this watch…which seems a lot more
convenient than the Motorola Spirit GT that I used to make my daughter carry all
over our neighborhood when she was younger.
Samsonite had a nice exhibit displaying a collection of their computer cases
and backpacks. One model in particular caught our eye (see pic below). It is a
laptop case that is like a docking station. You can fish all your wires out the
back of the case and use it without removing the laptop.
I thought this was a really cool idea, I am not sure if
my monstrously-huge Gateway laptop will fit inside, though…but I am
willing to try. ;0)
As Julie and I were walking around, we actually ran
into a familiar name that we got to put a face to: Andy Schwartz from
Media. After exchanged hellos, I snapped a pic of Julie and Andy…
Our last stop for the day was at the
Cybiko booth. Below you will see Judie
holding the new version of their wireless PDA / game device. It sure has a lot
buttons, doesn’t it?
I wish I had had something like this when I was in high
school…oh the trouble I could have avoided by IM’ing my boyfriend instead of
passing notes. ;0)
Since it was already 6:00pm, the CES staffers were
about to start shooing us out of the building, so Julie and I reluctantly
Then we stood in line waiting for a free shuttle bus back to the hotel.
We tried to get into the hotel’s steakhouse, which looked very nice, but the wait was going to be too long.
We showed up at the steakhouse at 6:30, and there were
no open tables until 9:15. This is one time I was not interested in waiting…I
We ended up eating dinner there at the Luxor at their all-you-can-eat buffet.
The food was pretty good.
Julie picked up some pot-stickers from the buffet,
which she had never tried before. I told her just to wait…I had seen a
P.F. Chang’s on the way back from CES,
and I wanted to eat some there with her…
After eating, we walked around the hotel a bit…
I thought this was as good a time as any to get a snap
of Julie at the slot machines…but we weren’t ready to gamble for real…just
Then went back up to the room to try to get online. Unfortunately, we weren’t
successful… Luckily, I had my RIM Blackberry with me, so I could check email.
Judie had her cool new phone, so she didn’t feel all that cut off either… But
both of us wanted to be able to check the site and all our email accts, so we
were looking forward to getting online the next day in the press area.
I had just got a skinny little Sanyo SCP-6000, and I
was still trying to figure out all of its features…without reading the
instruction manual of course. I knew if I played with it long enough I would understand
its many ins and outs, and sure enough – by the end of the trip I had learned
all of its little secrets. ;0)
This is a VERY cool phone! I was jealous!!! Unfortunately, it’s a
phone and the coverage in my area is not very good.
Thursday, we got up early, headed down to the buffet again…
Emphasis on the "again"… ;0)
…for a big
breakfast, and then to wait in line for the shuttle bus to the convention
center. Both of us froze our buns off waiting outside!
Complete understatement! It was freaking c-o-l-d. I had
on this sleeveless turtleneck and a long sweater, and it was no-where near warm
enough! We needed to light a fire! Ha!
Neither of us had been
smart enough to wear a jacket. It was windy and probably 40 degrees. Brrrrrrr.
Luckily the bus came and we were off for a full day of gadget scouting!
This time we went in through the main CES entrance, which we had to
commemorate with pictures!
The first thing that grabbed our attention was the Memory Stick area. This
was a big area with all types of Memory Stick peripherals from GPS solutions
like the ones below, to cameras, MP3 players, and readers.
It was about this time that I went into total
Below you will see the Sony Clie N600 or N700 series with a working
MemoryStick cam. Too bad Sony didn’t show
the new T615! That’s the one I wanted to get up close and personal with.
There were some unbelievable Clie/memory stick
accessory combinations featured…
Memory stick DVD players, wearable cameras and tiny half size Memory Stick
Duo MP3 players were very interesting.
Okay, I found the "wearable" memory stick idea a little
bit odd – I mean, do you consider flash memory to be a fashion accessory?
Evidently Sony thinks you do…I mean, I am a total geek, but you have to draw a
line somewhere, right?
Hehehe, come on! If it had a Louis Vuitton neck strap, you’d love it! ;o)
Yah, okay – you score points with that one, smartie!
Need a USB memory stick reader? There were several to choose from including
the ones below. The image on the left is the
Travel Flash PQI.
Notice anything about the Memory Stick in the
Lexar reader in the picture on the
right? It’s a Lexar stick. Sony isn’t the only maker any longer.
This was really cool to see…maybe it means prices
will come down, and we might see memory sticks in even more applications…
The next item that caught our eye was the metal Clie case pictured below from
DS International, Inc. These Pocket Armor
cases are available for the Handspring Visor Deluxe, Platinum, Neo, Pro, Prism,
Palm V/Vx, m500, m505, Compaq iPAQ and Sony Clie.
Notice that the Casio E-200 wasn’t in that list?
Believe me, I asked. It won’t be happening. Such prejudice…but I will be
happy to put my 3800 in one of these cool cases. ;0)
We both really liked the look and feel of these cases and hope to bring you
some reviews soon.
Julie and I thoroughly explored the Central Hall,
looking at everything from widescreen HDTVs (I want!), flat monitors (want that
too!) to Microsoft’s vision of the connected home. Microsoft had a huge
presence at CES, showcasing everything from Pocket PCs to WinCE enabled
While in the MS area, we ran into our buddy
Dale Coffing. He was working the
Pocket PC booth, and had run over to this display to show some Pocket PC
accessories to an overwhelmed buyer.
I don’t know if you were able to spot
it or not, but that is the new camera sleeve right above the iPAQ at the
bottom of the display…
You can’t see it in this picture, but
Yah, but 32MB RAM, come on! I mean, isn’t 64MB
While at the Microsoft area, we managed to score some
FAB peppermint lip-balm in a metal tin. As Julie will tell you, I am "All about
(*stuff we all get)
And Judie will tell you that she had to show me how to open the tin!!! We had
received similar tins (of mints) at Comdex. I had actually gone home and
used a screw driver to pry the lid open… Yes, I’m insane!
I wasn’t going to say a word about that!! But since
Julie brought that up, I did laugh out loud when she told about using the
screwdriver! Just "push in the pop-top and pull"…no need for violence. ;0)
Eventually, we made our way to the Palm Pavilion, where
we saw quite a few cool accessories, including the Fossil PDA watch which you
see me wearing here. This is the watch that we featured in our New Gizmos
section some time ago, that will come in either a Palm OS or Pocket PC OS
versions. This thing is honking-huge on my wrist – even larger than my
Seiko Final Fantasy watch!
It also reminds me of the On Hand PC watch that I reviewed awhile ago… Not
the least bit feminine in appearance is it…
At the Rhinoskin booth, we were treated to some of the
new aluminum and titanium offerings that will be coming out (and we will be
reviewing) soon. One of the newsworthy things we learned was that Rhinoskin is
seriously dropping their prices on their hard cases. Be sure to check out their
site for more details…
Notice the black m500 case on the
front row? That’s right…Rhinoskin will be offering a few colors for those
of you that want something other than straight-up silver.
I was extremely impressed that
Rhinoskin was going to use a plastic holster retaining system to secure PDAs
in their new hard cases – no Velcro, and no chance of the PDA falling
You know, I’d almost like to see this holster
At noon, we made our way to the Press luncheon. Even
though the chicken was rubbery, the vegetables were overcooked, and the mashed
potatoes were funky, the conversations around the table were quite lively and
fun. We had pleasant dinner companions, and it was cute how one guy we were
talking to casually got up and moved closer so he could talk to us better. His
comment that we were more fun than the guy he was sitting accross from scored
him points with us. ;0)
That’s right, our conversation was about feet. Yes, you read that
correctly… One of the gentlemen had asked what type of shoes we were wearing
and had mentioned writing an article about feet for a magazine. Then Judie told
them about her boot inserts. I sat there thinking they were nuts… Just give me a
good pair of Nike’s and I’m happy as a clam! My feet didn’t hurt the whole time I
Jeez – I can’t believe you mentioned that! The only
reason I told him about the inserts was because he was asking how I could walk
around for hours in 3" heeled boots. Ha – okay, now you all know my secret –
"arch supports"! ;0)
After lunch we checked on our e-mail in the Press Room,
and caught up with The Gadgeteer’s Bulletin Board postings…
Then it was time to amble around the North Hall, which
is where every car audio brand you can imagine was showcasing their offerings.
As a former car audiophile (back in the late 80s), I was in stereo heaven. I am
just glad that this stuff wasn’t available when I was serious about car audio,
or I would still be paying it off! ;0)
As for me, I’m not a car person at all. One look at my 1991 GMC Sonoma, which
hasn’t had a bath in a couple years, pretty much spells it out for me!
Here are some pictures of the featured cars…
We saw so many cool cars that I was disappointed to not
see my dream car – a Dodge Viper…Oh well, as a consolation, I had my picture
taken in this weird little automobile…
Eventually, Julie and I admitted that we were getting
tired (probably from sensory overload!), so we caught the shuttle back to the
This was the night that Julie and I finally broke out
of "buffet mode". We were able to eat at the Luxor Steakhouse, which was FAB! As
many of you know, ranching is my day-job, and believe me – I know a good (or
bad) steak when I have one. These were primo! The service was impeccable, and my
only regret was that there was no way I could finish the filet mignon and prawns
that I had ordered. Between the fresh hot sourdough bread, the salad, the main
course and the good company…I was in culinary heaven.
I’m not really a beef person, so I just had the prawns. I agree with Judie,
that restaurant and food were great! Heck, even the silverware was REAL silver! I know…
I’m easily impressed. ;o)
We also had three waiters at our beck and call, I liked
that, too… ;0)
Afterwards, Julie and I walked over to the Blue Man
Theater, where we were soon ushered in to see a show that was beyond
description. It wasn’t long before we were chatting with the girl that was
sitting on my right, who was from California and happened to work for
Google. I was waiting for Julie to say her
famous line of "Google is my friend’" but she didn’t. ;0)
Hehehe, it really IS my friend!
Mine too! HA! :0)
We were a little bit surprised when an
usher started handing out strips of white paper, and was telling us to
"adorn" ourselves. Julie went all out and created a semi-turban, whereas I
made a more conservative neck-tie…
We were even more surprised or
Then the house lights dimmed, and everything got
crazy! I am not going to tell you what we saw, but I will tell you that
Julie and I highly recommend the show. If you are in Vegas, you owe it to
yourself to see it!
It was great! I LOVED the music!!!
|Afterwards, we posed with one of the
trio… I was a little bit nervous that the blue paint was going to get all
After that, we were ready to do some serious gambling.
Oh yeah, we were real high rollers baby!!! Oh yah! ;0)
Julie and I had agreed that we would each play $20, so
we started with the nickel slots. I wasn’t long before we realized that we were
winning and losing the same few nickels over and over. So we decided to cash
out and move on to the big-time: the quarter slots. Neither of us is much of a
gambler (in case you couldn’t tell), so I decided to quit when I was up by $5.
Julie lost it all.. ;0)
I think I’ll keep my day job(s)! Me too…
Worn out by our long day, we decided to call it a
No we didn’t call it a night…. remember, we stayed up till 1am going thru
your MP3 collection on your notebook! Judie burned me a full CD of MP3s! I felt like a
teenager again listening to new stuff. I’m now a
Garbage fan and was able to
fill out my Cake collection!
Yah – how could I forget! That’s why we slept late the next