CES 2004 Trip Report Article

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Judie’s comments are in Black, Julie’s are
in Blue and italicized

After such a lame tradeshow experience at
Julie and I were really looking forward to returning to the
Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
in Las Vegas. The last time we attended, in
2002, we were both quite impressed
with not only the number of vendors, but also the number of attendees. Let’s
face it – you can have the greatest show on earth, but if no one is there to see
it, then the show won’t go on…

CES is always a great time, mainly because it’s in
Vegas. If you like to eat, like to spend money, and love to people watch, Vegas
is the place to be. Like Judie said, after the let down of PC Expo, we were
ready to be inundated with gadgets, and gizmos.

After much anticipation, the date finally arrived and Julie and I were about
to jet across the country to Las Vegas.


For once, I didn’t have to get up insanely early for a first flight out in
the morning. In fact, I didn’t have to be to be at the airport until 10am! I had
a quick lay over in Dallas, and was in Las Vegas without incident at 3pm.

I didn’t have to be in Indy until 2pm and I had a
direct flight to Vegas, which is always nice.

Shortly after deplaning, I got a call from Julie that she was waiting for me
in the Baggage Claim area, and that she was at the #2 carrousel. This sounded
great, as I was headed to #1. Once I got there, I didn’t worry that I couldn’t
see her at the neighboring conveyor belt. I began gathering my bags and called
to see where she was.

As I was waiting for my bags to come out, I kept
looking over towards the #1 area to see if I could see her. It took forever for
my bags to come out, and during the time, we kept calling each other to ask if
either could see the other.

Julie and I were starting to wonder what the heck was up, but then decided
that there must be several different terminals involved. Would you believe that
in all the times we have met each other in Vegas for shows, we have always ended
up arriving  and leaving from the same terminal! So we had just assumed
there was only one…we should have known better!

Yeah, after we kept calling each other asking "what
do you see?" and realized we were either not at the same airport, or something
was wacko, I went over and asked a security person if there was another baggage
claim area. It was then that I found out that there were two terminals. Can you
say doh! So I went outside and hopped on a shuttle to the other terminal.

Once I finally saw Julie coming through the door, we were finally able to get
in the very short line for a quick shuttle ride to our hotel, this time the
Excalibur. Of course, we had
wasted almost an hour between our terminal shenanigans and the shuttle ride, so
by the time we got to the hotel to check in, it was almost 5pm. Julie had not
yet received her PRESS badge, so we decided to grab something quick to eat and
then head over to the convention center.

Judie and I had used the same exact information in
our registration applications, but for some reason they declined my application
and then they lost it. By the time I got everything straightened out, it was too
late to mail my badge to me.

Shuttles were running until 6pm, so we were in luck. We caught the last bus
and got off at the South hall with the one other passenger. Once inside, Julie
got registered and we both picked up our press bags (sponsored by Toshiba) and
scanned the aisles of press releases and info that were already set up.

This year the press bags were my favorite color,
green. :o)

Afterwards, we noticed that the computer room was somewhat empty, so we
decided to take the opportunity to jump on the internet and check our email.
Little did we know that this would be our last opportunity to do so for the rest
of the trip!

Excalibur didn’t have high speed access, and Judie
didn’t have MSN or AOL installed on her Fuji, so we remained unconnected the
rest of the trip.

One cool thing we noticed was that the

Dell 4600C
computers we were using in the press room were the same model as
the two that Steve and I had just ordered for our home office. I had not seen
the 4600C in person yet, so I was pleasantly surprised with the small size of
the tower.

I taught Judie how to use telnet and pine to check
her email on our server. It was way faster and easier than using a web based

After we had our fill of email (mostly SPAM!), we started exploring. One of
the beautiful things about having a Press badge is that you get access to just
about anywhere you would like to go, without a hassle. Before we entered the
first showroom, Julie and I made a quick pit stop at a beaming station to get
the latest vendor booth list…


The application beamed to my HP2215 actually worked
this year. Not that I really used it that much. But hey, I could if I needed to.

Then we took a look at the mayhem that precedes the show. Forklifts, boxes,
sweaty guys huffing heavy objects and other guys that get paid to point. Here
you can see the Microsoft Direct booth with the SPOT watch display. Julie and I
were looking forward to our appointment the next day where we would learn more
about them.


It’s amazing how unfinished the floor looked at 8pm
that evening, when it was due to open to the public at 10am the next morning.
There sure are a lot of man hours and flitting around that makes a show like
this all come together. It would be interesting to know just how many people
were involved in the whole thing.

We eventually started to get thirsty, so we headed over to the Hilton hotel,
which is next door to the convention center (a friendly
security guard that moved to Vegas way back in 1929 gave us directions
On our way, we were stopped by Scott Hynd and two of his
LobeMan co-workers. We chatted for a bit,
and he was nice enough to give us a sample of the new
LobeMan FM Radio
earpiece. More on that, later.

During the whole trip, Judie and I were stopped by
various people that happened to see our name tags. We received several "I love
your site" accolades, which made us feel like mini celebs.

We had honestly planned on going to the Digital Experience Show, but by now
it was almost 8pm (the DE show started at 7pm), and we were tired! So instead,
we caught one of the shuttles bussing people back from the keynote. Once we got
back to the hotel, we took time to go through all of the materials we had picked
up in the press room.

About this time, we realized that we would have neither internet access nor a
good cell phone signal in our third floor room. Since the  view from our window
was of the side of the next building, I figured we were in poor area for any
kind of transmission. Julie suggested I give the LobeMan a try, and I was
pleasantly surprised to find out that it got a great signal in our cave –
clearly picking up quite a few Vegas stations, including one that played the
alternative rock that I like. After wearing the LobeMan for over half an hour, I
was surprised that it had never started bugging my ear and that I was actually
enjoying wearing the thing.

I tried it on too and also found it to be more
comfortable that I thought it would be.

Not much later, we called it a night and crashed.


We awoke at 7am, which felt really early, and after getting ready
decided that the buffet downstairs made the most sense for breakfast. Since we
didn’t have a safe in our room, and since my entire life is still on my laptop,
I wanted to store it in the hotel’s safe. Once we got downstairs, I learned that
all one is allowed to store in the Excalibur’s safe is money and jewelry. Oddly
enough, the Bell Desk is where hotel guests are supposed to leave their
electronics. So we trekked over there and I checked my Fujitsu.

I found it unusual that our rooms didn’t have a safe
in them… I can’t remember the last hotel that I stayed in that didn’t have

If you were in line at the buffet, maybe you noticed us. We were the total
geeks with our Press bags trailing behind us as we went through the line. We
weren’t the only ones doing this, but we decided that the next day we would
leave the bags in the room until after we had eaten.

Yeah, it was slightly difficult to jungle the bag
handle and a humungous plate of food as we walked down the serving line.

After all the safety precautions taken for my computer, I totally freaked out
when I realized that I had left my engagement/wedding ring and the diamond ring
I wear on my right hand lying on the counter in our bathroom upstairs! Julie and
I raced up the elevator to our room, and I thought I would throw up when I
realized that the room had already been cleaned! It wasn’t that long ago that I
had read
about Michelle Branch staying at the Aladdin and how she had her laptop, iPod,
cell phone and other personal items stolen. Never mind the fact that the rapper
Nelly had had one million dollars worth of jewelry stolen from his room
in the same hotel. Can you blame me if I was completely paranoid?! As I looked
in the bathroom, I breathed a sigh of relief seeing my two rings lying there
untouched. I know it pays to be careful, but this experience totally restored my
faith in the hotel service industry.

Julie and I headed down the elevators again, and then got in a l-o-n-g line
that was forming in the rear rotunda. Soon, the shuttle bus arrived and we were
on our way.

We were definitely ready to start the day and see
some gadgets!

Once we got to the convention center, it was obvious that the calm we had
seen the night before was the quiet before the storm. There were people
everywhere, and it was just insane!


As we entered the Central hall for our 10:00 meeting with Jeep, some girl
handed us a VIP pass to get in to Real‘s 3rd
Eye Blind concert Friday night at the Harley Davidson Cafe. Figuring that there
were way more passes being handed out than there would be room for attendees,
Julie and I just pocketed the laminated passes. At the time, we hadn’t yet heard
that Jewell and Santana would also be playing at invitation only vendor concerts
while we were there. Heck, in the Sirius booth alone there were quite a few
music acts,
never mind the
that were scattered around the convention center in various
booths. I am mentioning this because I just want you, our readers, to get an
idea of the kind of money being spent at this show.

From the advertising to the entertainment to the
construction, millions had to have been spent on this show… Just to give you
an idea of some of the sillier things that money was spent on, there were people
dressed in blue suits and dark sunglasses that walked through the aisles handing
out blue business cards that said "Get Connected" on one side (in various
languages) and had the Bluetooth logo on the other.

As we arrived for our Jeep meeting, we greeted Brian Murphy. He showed us
some of the new items that will be coming out from the Jeep line of consumer

Julie and I both thought this was a cool product, a "stop-light" for your
garage. With a price point of around $30 – $40, this one will make a great gift for
anyone you know that regularly parks in the garage and is worried about
misjudging the wall.

How about a cooler with a built in radio?

Can you say tailgate party?!

This power station looks like a great safety tool to keep in your auto’s
trunk. You plug it in at home until it is fully charged, and it will hold the
charge while stored, until you need it to "jump" your car’s dead battery, shine
a light, or whatever. According to Brian, this Power
Station can hold a charge for weeks.


Before you start thinking that all of Jeep’s products look ruggedized, here
is an offering from their new line of executive gifts…


What is this one?

I don’t recall, but it looks cool! ;o)


I guess I am behind the times, but I can honestly say that I have never felt
a need to sing Karaoke (unless you count singing along with the radio)..

For those that want to shine a light on the subject while they listen to
their "tunes"…


Jeep seemed to have added lights to quite a few of
their products…

Brian’s favorite, a heavy duty portable radio… It
had pretty decent sound for such a small device.

After our meeting, we ambled back over towards the South hall. Believe it or
not, we were already hungry again. RCA was kind enough to be sponsoring a free press
luncheon Thursday through Friday, so we got in line. Here is what it looked like
as we left – cattle call!

While the food was actually quite good, the seating
situation was very very cramped.

As we were leaving the luncheon, we ran into the comedian, Gallagher. He was
holding his trademark slice of watermelon (natch).

Julie and I decided that we were going to knock out the South and North halls
in one day. Perhaps we were being a bit ambitious, but it was growing very
obvious that this was the largest CES ever, and that we were going to be hard
pressed to see everything.

As we entered the South hall and started to take in some of the booths, we
came across Griffin Technologies, makers
of the Parental Control Key, which I
thought looked very interesting. Expect a review in the near future.

The Parental Control Key is a small USB drive like
device that when plugged into a PC, will allow a parent to restrict applications, files,
and internet usage.

An aisle or so over, we came across ICP
. Here we found a familiar logo in a
: a solar powered SCOTTeVEST.
Imagine being able to power your gear while you wear your jacket – not a bad
idea – especially if you are outside much of the day. The jacket looked much
better on the form than it did the model, no offense to the model. She was so
that the jacket looked like an oversized trench coat on her petite


Maybe a male model would have been a better…unless Scott is going to add
XX Small to the available sizes?

In addition to the panels sewn into the jacket, a
small charger module that you connect your devices to is included.

We were also shown a backpack that uses the same solar technology to charge
portable electronics – I can think of at least one teenager that would love to
be able to charge her CD player’s batteries while wearing her backpack…


We also got a look at the new
TEC Sport Jacket
on the company’s founder and CEO, Scott Jordan. I think
that that this worsted wool jacket will be a huge success for the
company, as it is a logical next step.

The only suggestion that I have, based on less than five minutes spent
looking at Scott wearing it, is that I think a slightly heavier weight jacket
might be in order if the wearer is going to load it as heavily as I suspect
Scott’s was.


Killing time until our next meeting, Julie and I explored the booths and
What has to be the world’s smallest PCs.

The Latte P4 mini PC from
Saint Song Corp.
can have up to a 3.06Gz processor and 2GB of RAM. WOW!

Otter’s booth, featuring the Armor 3600
I recently reviewed…

Julie seemed taken by all of the different mini MP3 players we kept
seeing…think this one was imitating her beloved iPod a bit?

They were everywhere, and in all shapes and sizes.
You’re right, the one above does look like an iPod rip-off. In reality, the
NHD-150D from
Nextway co.
is only a 1.5GB player. The player below, also from Nextway, is the 512mb
NMP-612T. The unique feature of this player is the slide out USB connector that
allows you to plug it directly into your PC.

The player above on the right is from iAudio. The
cool thing about it was the color backlight on the LCD. You could choose from
124 different colors, and assign different colors for different playing modes.

I found my dream keyboard. Imagine a keyboard with an SD/MMC,
Memory Stick, and CFI & II card reader built in. Impressive, don’t you think?

The KB Reader
Pro keyboard which includes a USB 2.0 hub, is from
Atech Flash Technology, Inc. The reader
module is even removable.

Julie and I stopped to watch a small robot moving about this booth.

You know, I have to admit that by 2004 I had really hoped that robots would
be more common place, more upright, and definitely more human-like. Maybe not to
the point of those in AI or
Bicentennial Man, but
further along than what we have seen so far. Hopefully in the next 25 years, CES
will begin to include true consumer robots…what a thought. You could order a
Rosie while at the show!

I’d rather have an Andrew (Robin Williams in
Bicentennial Man).

Oregon Scientific
had a great display of their combination weather station and atomic clock
products, including their red

Ferrari design


I want this phone…

Oregon Scientific has some very nice products. I’ve
had an atomic clock with a wireless temperature module for a year or so. I’d
love to do a review on a one of their comprehensive weather stations.

This tablet style device is the Pepper Pad from
Pepper Computer, Inc..
It runs a Linux OS, has 256mb of RAM and has built in WiFi.

The folks at
Nite Ize were
displaying their popular flashlights and holders, along with something
unusual… Lighted frisbees.

Timex is still putting out some great
watches. These are some of their new fitness models…

They even have a Speedpass model
for those of you that want to get fuel from Mobile and Exxon stations without pulling out your wallet.

In addition to the billions of MP3 players that we saw on the show floor,
digital cameras seemed to occupy a majority of vendors booths.

Next up, Julie and I had a meeting  to see the
EyeTop, a set of sunglasses
that have a small video screen built into the lower right lens. While the idea
is great for people who are serious about their mobile video applications, I
have to admit that I felt like an extra in a sci-fi movie while wearing them.


I felt like I’d been assimilated by the Borg! ;o)

Since we had a meeting in less than forty-five minutes over in the Central
hall, Julie and I agreed that we were done with the South. We made pretty good
time on our way, so when a DTS rep snagged
us and wanted us to witness the latest in home theater sound, we decided to stay
for the show.

We watched a selection of scenes from
Pirates of the Caribbean, and a
music video. It sounded great!

They had a room setup as the ultimate home theater.
Decked out with a huge screen, speakers and movie theater style seats, it was
nice just to be able to sit down for a few minutes. The guy seated next to me
must have felt the same way.  Not long after they turned down the lights, he
started to snore!

Next up was our 3:00pm  meeting with Microsoft to see their new Smart
ersonal Object Technology (SPOT)

While we were waiting for the previous meeting to
finish up, I snarfed down  some freebie cookies. At one point I looked up and
saw Ryan Kairer of Palminfocenter.com. We exchanged hellos, and he showed us the
SPOT watch on his wrist. Soon after, we were ushered into our meeting.

After a quick overview of what the watches could do, Julie and I were hooked!
These watches are able to capture customized content such as local, national and
international weather, one way MSN messenger messages, breaking and headline
news as well as sports information. Even though I am probably in the minority, I
fell in love with the Dick Tracy watch.

I really like your style of watch, I just didn’t
care for the cartoon watch faces.

Julie liked the square model shown on the left…

Although we both were sure that we’d be unable to
receive coverage where we live, we still each wanted to buy one. We were told
that they were available there in Las Vegas at the Fossil store in the Aladdin
shops. We knew where we’d be going the next day!

After our last meeting of the day, Julie and I ventured to the North hall to
peruse the autos showcasing automobile audio visual products…

I thought I had seen it all, until I saw the paint job on this H2…

"I bought a pretty cool wagon and we call it a woody
Surf City, here we come…"

Julie and I enjoyed a game of "Spot the Mini," which was easy to play seeing
as this cute car was a favorite of many of the vendors. I wouldn’t have believed
you could get 20" wheels on one – until I saw this car. I would imagine that the
first rut this Mini hits will take out the wheel well. That is – if the stereo
thumping doesn’t cause the back end to bottom out first.


More Minis with crazy paint schemes and stereos…


This car defied all explanation. Somewhere, some one is very proud of it. I,
on the other hand, was left shaking my head and wondering, "Why?"

Do people actually drive these things, or just look
at them? ;o)

One of the nicest looking Toyota Supras I have ever seen…

We even saw the famous Pepsi truck from the
Pepsi Vanilla commercial…


Of all the cars we saw, this was Julie’s favorite…

Right.  It didn’t have an insane paint job, it was
just a nice shiny truck :o)

By this time, we were just about walked out. Julie and I took the shuttle
back to our hotel and freshened up, then went to eat dinner before our next
event. Since we were tired and didn’t want to walk very far – much less take a
cab anywhere, we settled on
Sir Galahad’s Pub. I
have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect when we entered the restaurant. The
whole castle and medieval thing was starting to grate on me, but the menu was
reasonably priced and the offerings looked edible. Turns out the prime rib was
actually quite good. Never mind that the delicious house salad was served in
giant proportions with a tasty bread basket; we could have easily filled up on
the appetizers alone…

I agree, the salad was fantastic (except when I
accidentally ate an olive).   I’d never had prime rib before and it was yummy!

After dinner we caught a cab to the
to attend Showstoppers, a small party showcasing fifty or so
different product vendors.

Shortly after we arrived at the hotel, my cell phone
started ringing. It was Lisa Gade of

PDA Buyer’s Guide.
She asked if we’d arrived yet. We made our way to the Grand Ballrooms and met
her and Tong Zhang.   After visiting for a little while, Judie and I started
making our way around the room looking at the various vendors.

Wherify was
displaying their tiny new
Universal Locator

We were given a demo of the $99 media player from
Zvue. At that
price, I was sure it was going to be a flimsy device. I was totally wrong.

Sony’s third generation Aibo, the

  is the most amazing robot dog that we have seen to date. Take a look
at its


After an hour or so, Julie decided that we had seen enough for one day. After
standing in a cab queue for an entertaining half hour behind
Lazlow, we finally got back to the hotel and


The alarm went off at 7am and I think we both groaned at the same time. This
was going to be our last day at the show and I don’t know about Judie, but I was
feeling overwhelmed at what was left to see and do.

Definitely! Even though we had knocked out the North and South halls, there
was still the massive Central hall, as well as the Silver hall – which was
basically a huge tent erected across the street from the convention center.
There was also a model home with the latest in home automation and
computerization set up in that area. It was starting to stress me out, just
about how we were going to make time to see everything.

Not ones to whine and
complain (ok, maybe we did a little…), we got up, got ready, and headed down
to the breakfast buffet! Which brings up a question… Who the heck eats lemon
pie or chocolate cake for breakfast? I swear, the buffet at the Excalibur had a
whole dessert bar open. Can you say eck?

Not that that stopped people from helping themselves. I guess they were going
to get their $10’s worth!

After eating our fill of eggs, grits, bacon and other fat free food, we went
back up to the room to get our bags and then back downstairs to hop on the
shuttle to the convention center.

The plan for this day was to visit the Silver and
Central hall Exhibits. Silver was an entire exhibit area outside and across from
the convention center in a large white tent. We were looking forward to
perusing this area for offbeat and unusual products.

Actually, the first plan was to wait in the line at Starbucks for 20minutes
and get my morning caffeine!

As we were walking across the street, Judie
excitedly pointed out two blue Mini Coopers with Netscape logos driving down the
street. We each dived for our cameras and were able to snap a few shots. We
really should have counted all the Minis that we saw on this trip! :o)

Speaking of Netscape – I never did get one of those fab commuter mugs they
were handing out at their booth! Actually, we never even found that
booth…but I digress…

After we entered the tent, one of the first interesting products that we
happened upon was the
Wildseed /

Smartskin booth. They were
demonstrating a cool looking phone that is able to change its ring tones, screen
styles, video clips, pictures, and games by snapping on a new cover. The covers
have a smart chip embedded in the spine that includes all the information
necessary to totally transform your phone into something that matches your

The phones themselves were quite cool – with a built in camera and all of the
other features people expect in a GSM/GPRS phone. The skin gimmick really set
this phone apart from any I had ever seen, though.


They had covers that could convert your phone into a Hello Kitty phone, or
into a KORN phone. Kids are going to love this product which is slated for
availability in the spring of this year.

Not just kids, I bet. They had a good supply of covers/themes already
available. I think it would be too fun to be able to change your phone’s
personality on a whim.

As we were walking away from the Smartskin booth, we turned to see something
completely different and unexpected! This company creates complex self playing musical
instrument groups.

Ragtime Automated Music can make anything from a simple player piano to a
wagon with hundreds of automated instruments all playing without human
intervention. No more one-man-band, this is a no-man-band!

The iBiz booth was a busy one. They had
their laser keyboard setup for demos. Most PDA fans have seen pictures or heard
about this wild new Virtual keyboard that allows you to type onto a full-size
keyboard which is shone on a flat surface. It’s pretty difficult to see the
keyboard shining on the table in the picture below, but in reality it is easy to

If the lighting hadn’t been so bright in the room, coupled with the camera’s
flash, the red keyboard would have stood out much better…

When I sat down to give it a try, I could barely type with it. For me it just
felt too awkward not to have actual keys to press. The iBiz people told us that
this keyboard is best for hunt and peck style typists.

Like me – the four finger typist.

Next to the iBiz area was an exhibit from
Synosphere. They were showing a product
called the Blue Dock. Designed for Pocket PCs and Palm PDAs, this small docking
station allows your PDA to, in effect, become your only PC!

There are a lot of mobile warriors that have been using their PDAs as a
laptop replacement. This product takes that idea a huge step forward!

The dock includes 2
USB ports for a keyboard and mouse, 1 SVGA port for a monitor and an Ethernet
port. Pop in your PDA, and badaa boom baada bing, you can see and interact with
everything on a full-size monitor. I think this a very cool concept, one
which I will most happily adopt when PDAs have at least 20GBs of RAM and even
faster processors. Being able to carry ALL my email and our entire website in my
pocket for easy access would really be a dream come true for me!

Definitely! He really only showed us the spreadsheet application, and the
today screen. I would love to see Pocket PC and Palm games on a computer
monitor, though, as well as all of the other PDA applications that we can’t live

Every mouse deserves a nice mouse pad right? How about a Persian style, or an
Oriental style
MouseRug? Available in a
wide variety of styles and colors, these thin mats are a funky way to decorate
your cube at work or your desk at home. This same company also had WristRugs
and CoasterRugs. The WristRugs were smaller and thinner variations of the
MouseRugs, with adhesive backing. They can be cut down to size and stuck to the
wrist rest area of a notebook computer.

Our next stop was at the egrips.com booth.
We stopped and chatted with the CEO for a moment, and then Julie
snapped him holding their product on a mobile phone…

Then we came upon our new friends at the LobeMan exhibit. The LobeMan is a
nifty little light weight radio that hangs on your ear like a Jabra handsfree
mic/earphone. It is inexpensive and can be personalized with a variety of snap
on covers. Judie was impressed by this little gadget and plans a review in the
near future.


Next we visited the Ram Mounting Systems booth. If you
are looking for a way to mount all kinds of
devices to the interior of a car, this is the place to check out.


Judie freaked out when we came to the Visart booth which had the most awesome
looking thin desktop picture frame style LCD screens on display. They had built
in card readers that supported SM, SD, CF, MMC, MS, MS Pro and IBM Microdrives.

I really liked the smooth way that the frames would scroll through the
pictures. I think it would be too cool if an outside camera could be hooked up
to one of these frames. You could have unobtrusive surveillance that fits into
any decor.


Another "what’s this doing at CES" booth that we came across was a juicer
and food processor
exhibit from
Dong A Oscar Co. They had a
whole assembly line going with pasta makers and juice extractors. I’ll have a
carrot juice with a side of wheat grass please ;o)

They offered Julie and I a sip, but I quickly showed the man my Starbucks
cup. He was like, "coffee is no good for you!" I replied with, "but it tastes
good!" The orange carrot juice muck they were making did absolutely nothing for
me. I did like how the pasta maker was cranking out the fresh noodles, though…

As soon as  we walked around the corner and I saw the HomePod from
Connectivity, Inc.
, I was like oooooooh, nifty! This product is a wireless
(802.11b or wired ethernet) network music player that supports MP3, WMA, AAC,
WAV and internet radio. It was obvious to us that the name and general design
was totally iPod inspired. We learned about a couple of interesting features
regarding the HomePod, including the fact that it has digital coaxial and
optical SPDIF ports.

Julie was shocked when I wasn’t more interested in this product, but since my
house is already wired with a central stereo system, I didn’t think that this
would be something I would use. Later, I began to wonder if it was something I
could utilize to stream my online Sirius broadcasts through, which could then be
patched into the central stereo system. Hmmmm…

When I saw this next product, the first thing that popped into my mind was
the magical talking flute in the old Saturday morning show called
(am I showing my age here?). Much to my utter disappointment,
this was not a magical talking flute at all, but the
StikAx. It’s a sort of musical instrument /
music mixer that interfaces via USB with your PC, to allow you to play and capture music. Small sound snippets are assigned to
the individual buttons so that you can play the stick like an instrument.

If I understood correctly, you hold one of these in each hand. Looking like a
pair of futuristic game controls, you start and stop audio with one hand while
controlling video with the other. Software on the computer shows you progress and allows almost infinite editing. You can create some imaginative
videos with this tool – and the price point was really reasonable.

A quick look at our watches told us that we had to hurry back to the South
Hall for another freebie press luncheon.

Cattle call, more like…

After we gobbled our food, we hurried over to the Central Hall to meet with
the folks at the Car Chip booth. Allow me to complain for a moment to the folks
that set up the booth numbering system for the various halls? Were you all drunk
when you laid out the floor plans, or what? I think Judie and I wandered up and
down a million aisles for 30 minutes before we found the right booth. The booth
numbers (which were stuck on the floor in front of each of the various booths)
would count up almost to the number we were looking for, and then would
invariably jump 100 or 200 numbers past where we were looking. We were about ready
to give up until Judie finally called our contact and we were given directions. ARGH!

What was the kicker was that we were one aisle over from where we needed to
be. I was about ready to slap the guy or gal that had come up with the asinine
numbering system!

Once we were in the booth, I pulled out the module that had been installed in
my Mini for the last two weeks. Once the data was loaded to the computer screen,
Julie and I got a chuckle at the way you could immediately tell when Steve or I
had been driving the car. Everyone was confused about the four minute lull in a
25 minute trip on the day we had left for the airport, until I explained that
that had been when we went through the drive through at Starbucks. ;0)

After our meeting was finished we fought our way through the throngs of
people to look at various other products and before we knew it, it was time for
our last meeting of the day with the folks at Salton and their
beyond connected
product line. These products include the iCEBOX CounterTop Kitchen
Entertainment Center, Beyond Microwave and Beyond Home Hub.

I thought the iCEBOX computer was pretty cool with its touch screen, washable
keyboard and remote. With a built in CD/DVD/TV and FM radio, I could see this
product becoming a very popular kitchen appliance.

The Beyond microwave is also something I could see myself using. A built in
bar code reader can be used to scan the codes of various foods to determine
cooking times automatically. Foods not included in its database can be stored
for later use.

It looked so easy that a child could do it – scan the food and hit enter.
Wait a bit, food’s done. Nothing to read, no major programming involved. Simple.

All of the Beyond products can be connected to the hub, which doubles as a
clock radio, and CD player. Using .NET technology, it pulls down personalized
information such as news, weather, stocks and more. It will even tell you if you
forgot to add water to your Beyond Coffee maker. Very cool!

I love the idea of having a alarm clock that tells my coffeemaker when to
start brewing – or of being able to enter my preferences into a website that
talks to my alarm clock.

After we left the Beyond booth, I think both of us were about ‘over it’. The
crowds were insane and our feet were killing us, so we decided it was time to
say goodbye to CES and say hello to shopping!

It wasn’t until we were riding the bus back to the hotel that I read what we
had already suspected: that this CES was the largest ever. The show had covered
over one million square feet, and there had been a record number of vendors. On
the one hand, Julie and I felt like there were still things we needed to
see…on the other hand, by this point we were too worn out to see them. Whether
we had actually done it or not, we felt like we had actually walked a
million miles.

But first we had to wait in line for a shuttle with everyone else that was
ready to call it a day.

We heard several people talking about how overwhelmingly huge the show had
been. Even though it was too big, I think Julie and I would take that any day
over a puny display like we saw in New York.

Oh yeah, you know it!


We took a shuttle back to the hotel, dumped off our bags and then
took a cab to the Aladdin desert passage shops at the Aladdin hotel. Our mission
was to visit the Fossil shop and each buy a SPOT watch.

Julie picked up the Fossil

, and I got the

Dick Tracy
model. We both signed up for a year’s worth of service, fully
knowing that the watches would most likely not work once we returned home. We
both liked that when we traveled, the watches would keep us connected.

Of course we had to stop and rub the Buddha’s belly
outside the Lucky store for good luck!

After we bought our watches, we stopped at a cafe to drink a Coke (one of the
few we had on the trip because Pepsi seems to own Las Vegas!), and wait for
our watches to update with new info.

You would have thought it was Christmas morning, the way we were squealing as
our watches flashed their welcome messages and began downloading content. Every
time one of us would get a news flash, we would have to read it to the other!
New watch faces even downloaded as we were walking around.

Not long after, we headed back to the Excalibur, packed our bags and went to


Judie’s flight was at 6:30am, so she had to be at the airport by 4:30am. Even
though my flight was at 9:30am, I told her I would go with her to the airport
early. Since we would be in different terminals and wouldn’t be able to sit
together during our wait, she talked me out of getting up at 3am to go with
her… I didn’t resist ;o)

Well, it just didn’t make sense for Julie to get up at 3am for a 9:30am

As I was walking through the hotel’s casino and lobby at 4am, I have to admit
that I was astounded by the number of people that were either just coming in
from a night of partying, or who were still going strong in the casino. I admire
their stamina…especially after the way Julie and I exhausted ourselves on this

Without incident, I went through the airport check-in, and was soon enjoying
a Cinnabon without icing and a
caffè latte…YUMMY.

Just to show how gnat brained that I can be, I ended up getting to the
airport at 6:30am, and didn’t realize I was there 3hrs early, instead of the
customary 2hrs. ARGH, I could have slept an extra hour. Then my flight was
delayed about 90mins… After what seemed like forever, I made it home to good
old Columbus, IN. As they say, there’s no place like home!

My plane actually arrived about ten minutes early, so when Steve and Sarah
pulled up at our regional airport, I was sitting outside on a bench waiting for
them with my bags gathered nearby. I was so glad to be home – and ready to get
some more sleep!

This year’s CES show was the largest show to date.  There was over 1
million square feet of exhibit space and more exhibitors than in previous
years. Everyone seemed in a good mood, which makes us hopeful that the economy
is really perking up.

Julie and I have decided that no matter what other shows we might check out
during the year, we are going to make CES a yearly event from now on. It has
truly set itself apart from the other shows we have attended. Hopefully next
year we will be ready for its massiveness. Maybe an extra travel day should be
in order!

Side note: Judie only had Starbucks once the entire trip! ACK!
Now wait a minute – I still had several lattes – they just weren’t all
from Starbucks!

Yes, but you would have had more if there had been
as Starbucks ;o)

Until next year, that’s all folks!

About The Author

26 thoughts on “CES 2004 Trip Report Article”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Whooo, just got done reading the novel…

    Note to you guys: before you leave, install AOL’s 45-day trial, that way you won’t be overwhelmed with 5million emails when you return 🙂

  3. Great job on the review guys. Why do you get so many emails, I hope it’s combination of work and personal. 1300 site emails is amazing.

  4. So how does one really hold the stikax? Their website has no human component, and it wasn’t at all clear from the pictures how one “naturally” holds the thing. (Very funky looking though 🙂

  5. I found your article to be very well written and extremely informative (as are your other writings) I do have a couple of questions however; Do the eye top glasses come with a mirror finish?
    Also, did you guys get the wooden hand that comes with the watches?

  6. eichin:
    You hold it opposite of the way that Judie is holding it in the picture. You use your four fingers to grip the handle buttons, and your thumb rests on the back side. You use your other hand to press the buttons along the top side of the Stikax.

    No, as far as I know, the glasses did not come in a mirror finish.

    Regarding the wooden hand. It is mine. I had to get it after a particularly nasty tussle with a crocodile on one of my gadget expeditions into the Congo.

  7. “I taught Judie how to use telnet and pine to check her email on our server. It was way faster and easier than using a web based client”

    I currently use a web based client to check my corporate email on my XDA. Could you please do a post about how I can use telnet and pine to check mail from our corporate server?


  8. birdman:

    In order to tell you how to use these tools, your server would need to be a Unix server, and you would need to know the server name to telnet into. Pine would also need to be installed on the server. If you know these things, send me an email and I’ll try to help you.

  9. Well, first you would have to find out if your corporate server allows telnet and has/allows pine reading of Email.

    And, if it allows telnet from the outside world.

    But, pretty much after that…all you would have to do is “telnet <machine>”, enter your user name and password and then run pine.

    As to using pine…you’d have to ask somebody else, I’m an elm person.

    OTOH, I use a much more complicated procedure to read Email on the road :wow:

    I use ssh (putty) on my laptop to my Linux server, and I tunnel (tight)vncviewer through to my Windows XP desktop where I can use my regular email clients (I use all three, Outlook 2000, Outlook Express and Eudora….) to read messages in over a dozen different accounts that I have.

    The Dreamer

  10. Great review, as always. Out of curiosity, how are you gals enjoying your SPOT watches? On a whim, I went out an purchased a Wrist Net Square from Fossil (like yours, Julie), and so far I’m having a blast with it (though I can’t seem to get the Outlook sync working…).

    I’ll be interested in reading your patented “She said/She said” take on them in an upcoming article.

    – Adam

  11. Although I like my SPOT watch quite a bit, I do have mixed feelings about it. Unfortunately, it does receive data during the day while I’m at work. It does when I’m home though. Outlook syncing is working for me, but it has the times all wrong. :p

    We should have a review in a week or so.

  12. I don’t have SPOT service at all in the po-dunk town I live in, but otherwise I really like my watch. I would love to add a cool leather band to it like pt did his Suunto, but I am not sure if it will be possible since the Fossil has an antenna running through the band and the connection is not complete unless the deployment band is snapped. Hmmmm…I’ll have to see what I can do.

  13. I still can’t get Outlook to sync, but hope springs eternal (placed a call to tech support and was “escalated”)… Interestingly, Reggie from Cliesource is having the same trouble that I am. I wonder if our Clies are to blame?

    Judie, I’m curious, given that you knew beforehand you wouldn’t get service in your locale, what prompted you to purchase the watch? Without SPOT services, the watch is relatively useless – i.e. it’s a just digital watch (albeit a cool looking one, with a nice dot-matrix screen) that needs to be recharged every 2-3 days.

    Also, I’m not sure you’ll be able to perform Mr. Torrone’s mods, given that the band does indeed moonlight as the antenna on all the Fossil models.

    – Adam

    PS – If anyone feels like dropping me a line on MSN Messenger, feel free to do so. At least that function is working fine (“craniotes”), and it might make me reconsider returning the watch if I can’t get Outlook to work.

  14. Both of us bought the watches knowing they wouldn’t “work” when we returned home from Las Vegas. I was the lucky one… by some fluke, mine is able to receive info at home. That doesn’t help me much though as it doesn’t have a signal during the day while I’m at work.

    I’m surprised that you have to ask why we would buy the watches even though we knew they wouldn’t work in our area… You do know who you’re talking to right? 😀

    Seriously, the watches will work when we travel (hopefully). And for me, I have wanted a very cool dual time zone watch for a long while now. This one does the trick for me, as it has a cool dual time zone face that I can switch it to.

  15. Originally posted by Julie
    I’m surprised that you have to ask why we would buy the watches even though we knew they wouldn’t work in our area… You do know who you’re talking to right? 😀 [/B]

    That says it ALL, right there. 😎

  16. Hi,
    Catriona here from HighAndes, the company responsible for producing the StikAx.
    The StikAx has been designed to be held with either one or both hands. For maximum music and video mixing, both hands is preferable, as you can trigger all the buttons and the method Julie described is spot on.
    We are currently in the process of updating the site to include photos and a video to show the StikAx in action, so you can check that out in a week or so.
    If you would like any further info, please just drop me a line.

  17. Judie: Just a quick question… did you happen to take your Zodiac to CES this year? I don’t know of any other PDAs with the IR on the side 😀

  18. I did take my Zodiac to CES, you must be referring to the picture of me receiving beamed info. 🙂

    FWIW, my Sony CLIE NZ90 also has the IR in a similar area (on the left side, near the top). But, since the Zod is a landscape device I consider the IR to be on the top. 😉

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