The Craptastic Electronics Show

I’m back to work on my usual weekly appearances on The Bill Handel Show on KFI Los Angeles (Fridays at 7:50a) and The John Donabie Show on CFRB Toronto (Saturdays at 7:50a). This week the big topics are, of course CES and MacWorld Expo.
2008 International CES, January 7-10, Las Vegas.jpgCES, The Consumer Electronics Show, is wrapping up today in Las Vegas. It’s big with 140,000 attendees this year (down from a peak of 150,000) and major media attention (NBC Nightly News broadcast from the show floor) but many attendees are complaining that there’s not much to see of interest among the 2700 exhibitors filling 1.8 million square feet of exhibit space. In fact, I’m tempted to rename it the Craptastic Electronics Show.

In between all the cheap knock-off iPods, and stereo speakers made to look like garden rocks, there were some products of interest. Pioneer displayed a new Kuro 50″ plasma TV that’s only 9mm thick – thinner than an iPhone – but it’s only a “concept.” No word on whether they’ll ever make it.

OLED TVs garnered interest once again this year. In fact, Sony is finally selling one. The 11″ Sony XEL-1, just 3 millimeters thick, costs $2,500. Never mind.

Panasonic showed a 150″ Plasma screen – the largest ever – but if you have to ask how much… you can’t afford it. It requires a 747 to transport it and you’ll have to take the roof off your house to install it.

skitched-20080111-080941.jpgThe biggest news at CES happened four days before the show began. Movie studio Warner Brothers announced that it would stop making HD-DVD versions of its movies and deliver Blu-ray only from now on. This is seen as a death blow to the HD-DVD format – only Universal and Paramount will continue to offer HD-DVD titles and rumors were flying on the show floor that those studios might soon defect to the Blu-ray camp, as well. Microsoft which had planned to preview an XBox360 with built-in HD-DVD quickly pulled that announcement, and the HD-DVD press conference scheduled for CES was abruptly cancelled.

Blog _ LOL_ The Life of Leo.jpgBill Gates also gave his last keynote at CES on Sunday night. Gates is retiring from day-to-day operations at Microsoft in six months. His speech, as usual, contained little news, but did feature a funny video of his “last day” at work which featured Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, George Clooney, and Bono.

One of the biggest players in consumer electronics, Apple, stayed away again this year. Last year Apple’s iPhone announcement in San Francisco completely overshadowed CES in Vegas. This year, MacWorld Expo is a week later, so while Apple’s not stealing attention from CES, it does feel a little like we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop.

After a lackluster show like this, with high hotel prices, impossible cab lines, and very little news to take home, I have to wonder how long it will be before CES follows its late brother, Comdex, into the tradeshow graveyard.

19 Replies to “The Craptastic Electronics Show”

  1. Welcome back. How about some Macworld speculation, or at least a refresh of Macbreak Weekly. I miss that.
    One thing I’d point out is that Apple sure does the Mystery Box thing well. I enjoyed J.J. Abrams TED presentation on the mystery box. I hope you don’t mind if I post a link to some TED videos I like.

  2. Leo, Where is Security Now, episode 126? I love that program, and listen every week on Thursday.Yesterday, and still today, there is no new episode.

  3. Apple influences is all over CES. CES is now the iPod expo! Over $5 billion in iPod accessories everywhere. Also Apple (FileMaker) was there showing off their new consumer data base program “Bento.”
    Lets have one quick Macbreak Weekly to get us ready before Macworld. It’s been over three weeks!

  4. A prediction. After Macworld this years CES will be all but forgotten. CES had no real innovations.
    The most interesting thing was coverage that came from the bloggers and events like the bloghaus that podtech had. That they could do what NBC did with minimal recources shows the future of media.

  5. I get the feeling that the journalists do not want to cover CES, they are obsessed with Apple. Sony, Motorola can announce 10 products, they are not even looking or reporting about they. They seem to be spending more of the time networking with each and speculate about Apple. It’s like when you reluctantly go see a movie: there is no way you’re going to enjoy it, even if it’s great. Your mind is set before you arrive.
    CES is a lot of work; reporting on Apple is much easier, just one or two products to cover. “The media is the message”! The nature of bloggers and tech journalist’s media is the news here, not CES.
    The problem I believe is there is *too much* news at CES, not that it’s lackluster or somehow fails at what it is. Check CNet’s written coverage for an overview of everything’s that’s gone on.
    CES was probably more appropriate for an era of print magazine, where the journalist needed to fill a lot of pages with small articles. On the web, tech journalism know they will get more page views by getting you to come back updates on a very same small set of big – but simple – stories. Stuff that generates easy headlines.
    The medium is the message. I believe the web-driven tech reported will by its nature always present CES as being lackluster, no matter what it does, because it’s incompatible with what it wants.

  6. I think a growing industry has lots of shows, because it’s really important to see each new development. But we’re in consolidation here on the computer front. It’s important to differentiate yourself when the chip is always the same, or at least always the same architecture. But once 30 companies are putting out hi-def TVs, what’s the point of seeing them all? There’s too much for a human to see if they spend the whole thing looking. So nothing stands out.

  7. Warner will continue to make HD-DVD movies through the end of May.
    As far as CES is concerned, it is a show better suited to another decade, when we didn’t know about upcoming products, before we knew the minute new devices applied for FCC approval.
    It is too big, thats one of the drawbacks; there is no way to see it all and a lot of it is crap. You will often see the same vendor year after year displaying the same products. I think they need to split the show up. Automotive stuff should definitely have its own show; they could start there.

  8. blu ray was destined to win because out of the box it was more capacious and capable. I am glad I never went to CES. What a waste of time seeing stuff you really want and never will get it. I guess it is good to see what is possible, but I can do that from the web thank you.
    One thing is for sure. I don’t need a HD-DVD player anymore.

  9. I think the most exciting thing out of CES this year is either the Alienware/NEC 2880×900 curved display…×900-curved-gaming-display/
    Or the Optimus Maximus! (The name always reminds me of Optimus Prime…might as well nickname it “The Transformers Keyboard”)

  10. So the HD-DVD/Blue-Ray war is over, but I wonder how much longer the DVD itself last? Sure we don’t have bandwidth speeds yet to make downloadable HD video content totally viable, but I can’t imagine it will be too far down the road.
    And is Microsoft really hurt that much by this news? I think this just gives them more opportunity to promote HD content on Xbox Live.

  11. This was my first CES and took it all in. As a professional, I didn’t see many stunning announcements. However, it is always fun to see what is coming.
    My main picks for the show were in the new display technologies. OLED, KURO, and 4K2K were incredible. Alex Lindsay may now have a display for future Red Camera content.
    Other big deals for me were the new Sanyo XActi, Canon HV line, and Sony video.
    Oh, and of course the obligatory sub-woofer heavy enough to be pulled from its mount by an engine lift. What will they think of next?

  12. I’m sure at MacWorld we’ll hear more about the iPhone later today. For those of you who are looking from a Community that is geared directly at iPhone users, I recommend looking no further than
    This is a slick iPhone based website that really combines many of the features of a livejournal and twitter into one finger friendly site.
    The ease of use and ability to upload photos to the site direct from your iPhone makes it pretty unique.
    Someone might want to give it a look at.

  13. Regarding Mr. L’s comments on the Panasonic 150″ plasma TV…The rapidly evolving reality of cinema (home or commercial venue) is pure digital from take one to depositing the earnings from the legal digital download. In future the Cineplex of the Bay Area will be a two fifty seat cinema with a 1050″ inch Plasma showing spectacular hand made cinema or big house movies.
    Don’t dis it embrace the future. Thanks Panasonic!

  14. Maybe CES didn’t live up to the Hype but it did what its main function is. I was not Impressed by any of the products I saw. I’m still hoping for someone to create the Robotic Mobile stair climbing Fridge and Mini Oven that will bring you pizza and beer at a set time. Then return to its A/C charging base in between tasks, Maybe vacuum the Kitchen floor on its way back. I’m a bit of a dreamer…

  15. Before Mac people begin to talk about Macword, maybe they should clean up their own camp first. As a new user to Macbook and Leopard (a Windows switcher and Windows PC User Group Editor), I must say I am totally fed up with APPLE rotten CARE that I purchased.
    Here is a posting at Apple Forums that was posted Jan 19/08 and made disappear the next day. Of course I have reposted it in Apple’s forum as well in my blog:
    However, I cannot say that for Boot Camp. Here is a post I put in yesterday that somehow disappeared from this forum:
    First of all, let me say that I am thoroughly disgusted with Apple Care techs.
    I won’t even talk about the upwards of 3 hours I spent waiting on the phone today waiting to get a tech, but what I want to say is the service is below an acceptable standard.
    I will get back to this later on, for now I want to discuss the problem that 3 Apple Care techs acted as if they knew nothing of what I was talking about.
    I activate Boot Camp Assistant, Load Windows Vista. After Vista loads it looks for drivers. I am then instructed to insert driver disc (Leopard). The problem is (and the problem these techs would not acknowledge or listen to) that I cannot eject the Windows disc to insert the Leopard disc for the drivers. The problem is that simple – the solution seems to be a wonderment or a secret.
    So, I decided to seek the tech support I paid good money for…That is when more problems from Apple transpired.
    After an hour wait I got a tech (who gave me the wrong case number) who had no idea what I was talking about. He kept saying it was a Windows issue and not Boot Camp. Finally, after about 30 minutes on the phone he said I was a Canadian and I had somehow been transferred to the American Apple Care and he then transferred me. This was another 30 minute or so wait until I got Apple Care tech Alec. Who acted the same way. For these guys to say “I don’t do Windows” is wrong. Apple created Boot Camp for users to load Windows. They advertise this and they advertise the ease in which it is loaded. But when you seek help they play dumb and say they are not Windows guys that is truly not acceptable.
    For any Mac reps who may be monitoring this post, this here is my case number I was given by tech Alec: 9150493, but guess what, he the other tech left out one digit and thus the number is incomplete. This “Alec” told me that to take a picture of the desktop with the problem and then call him back at: 1-800-275-2273 88 then extension 2210. Little did I know this was a lie. I tried that number and it is the same number I called for Apple Care before. The person who finally answered (after another 30 minutes) said I was not authorized to use that number.
    At this point I gave up.
    Now I am wondering why I spent good money buying the extended Apple Care tech support when these people do not support Boot Camp.
    Gregory West
    Macbook Mac OS X (10.5.1)
    PS: How does one go beyond Apple’s Apple Care? They just cannot keep blaming Windows. In fact, the Apple Tech told me to call Windows and complain. Wow, what customer care eh?

  16. Ah yes Bill Gates last keynote address, lets see who did he address? just abunch of Bussiness people, does the regular person care about his last Keynote? I don’t think so, See ya Uncle Bill also how much did you pay everyone to be in your video.
    I think Steve Jobs has the right Idea and keep on going bring new products, because Bill has no more ideas. Long live Mac World!

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