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CES: Innovation, Not so New Technology
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 | Dan Feinberg

The 2013 CES show is now history. First, a few obligatory numbers and statistics:

  • The CEA reports that this year’s CES was the largest yet with 1.92 million net square feet of exhibit space.
  • More than 3,200 exhibitors showed approximately 20,000 new products.
  • More than 150,000 total attendees.
  • Over 35,000 attendees from outside the U.S.
  • Over 170 countries were represented.
  • And, on a personal level, during CES week I walked nearly 40 miles visiting the various CES locations, halls, meetings, and booths (as measured accurately by my Fitbit wireless and connected pedometer).

Now, some general observations and opinions:

  • The show was huge and it was virtually impossible to see everything as there were exhibits not only at the Las Vegas Convention center, but also on multiple floors of the Venetian. Meetings were held at Mandalay Bay and other locations and private meetings and preferred press and customer displays  were spread across the city.
  • Of the 20,000 new products, many were truly interesting, useful, and quite evolutionary--one or two revolutionary. Some not so revolutionary; after all, how many different iPhone cases, screen protectors, tiny smart phone speakers do you really care about? Hundreds, if not thousands, of such products were on display.
  • In some areas it was so crowded that you could hardly move, but there were many highly-intelligent and opinionated people to speak with. Attendees could have a good discussion and learn something valuable.
  • When you left a hall you had to penetrate a wall of smoke as many visitors from outside the U.S. have picked up a bad habit from the twentieth century.
  • Attendees, no matter if they were eating a ham sandwich, sushi, or a Kosher meal, were interested in the same thing: New and interesting technology and new products making use of technology introduced in the last few years.
  • A few times it crossed my mind that I might actually be getting too old for this and should go take a nap.

The most impressive, most-evolved devices I saw include the latest smart TVs from Samsung, LG, Sharp, and others. It is not only their networking ability that impresses, but the ultra-thin bezels and the suburb pictures on huge screens. The next generation of ultra HD screens is truly amazing, but for now, there's not a lot of content. Even though these devices can upgrade a standard HD picture one has to ask if the present cost is something that a sane person would consider. Still, they are worth seeing.

On the TV front, the most talked-about product of the last few years was noticeable by its (almost) absence: 3D TV. Yes, there were some being shown, but the bloom is clearly off the rose where home 3D TVs are concerned. Much progress is being made with glasses-free 3D and perhaps that will spark new interest in the future. For now, 3D movies seem to have found their place and that's in the movie theater.

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