Enter the Net: CES 2013 promises new dreams for us geeks

By David Hughes

Ahhh … ain’t it wonderful? It’s the day after Santey came bringing you and your household a Chevy Suburban chock-full of new – what you think are – state of the art electronic gizmos and gadgets which should make you happy for years on end. And, you have the credit card debt to prove it.
Enjoy the glow, my friends because it will be very short-lived. Most of the gadgets under your tree will be obsolete beginning the second week in January – just as soon as the doors open for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Jan. 8-11. This is the premier event each year when consumer electronics manufacturers trot out their newest wares … whether they actually exist or not.
Apple will be missing from the party because that company always chooses to announce new products in an arena and venue not diluted by others within days or a few weeks of CES.
Microsoft has also chosen not to be a part of the show again this year – a decision it made in 2011 – which many trade writers feel may be a mistake because of the lackluster launch of the new Windows 8 operating system and the associated phone and “Surface” computing device as well as tablet.
I’m sure many of our readers may not understand or follow the importance of CES, but I have covered the event and its predecessors for more than two decades and was fortunate enough to attend two of them several years ago in Sin City. It was an exhausting three days because the venues were scattered over three areas in Vegas. This year, CES is primarily centered in the expanded convention center and is four days.
Theoretically, CES is for vendors, manufacturers, commercial buyers for large corporations and the trade press, but that theoretical limited audience swelled to more than 153,000 during the three-day period. Beginning last year several of the major online entities such as the TWIT Network, CNET and others devoted many hours of live and recorded interviews and looks at the products on display which viewers could watch on just about any platform available at home or on the road. That trend will continue and expand for 2013 as main line news organizations increase coverage.
CES is more than the thousands of products on display on the convention floor. Long-time attendees will tell you the “real” CES news comes from the hundreds of informal private parties and interviews held in small hotel room and meeting areas all across the city in every hotel. It’s there company reps buttonhole buyers and influential members of the electronic press so they can have hands-on time with the new products.
Most manufacturers and new companies wait until CES each year to announce their newest innovations and many members of the press consider it their sacred duty to ferret-out what’s going to happen before official announcements. While this might make for exciting times, sometimes leaked information can come back to bite journalists who don’t research enough (grin).
Some of the biggest draws each year to CES are the keynote speakers. Past CES’ have featured scores of the industry’s best-known CEOs such as the late Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others. This year’s opening keynote speaker is Kazuhiro Tsuga, the president of Panasonic Corporation.
I realize your first question may be, “who is the heck is this guy?...” Your confusion may be well deserved until the realization that Panasonic is the primary manufacturer of screens for almost all consumer devices today. Those devices extend from your smart phones and in-car entertainment /navigation devices to the 100-plus inch mega-televisions in many of today’s home.
Chances are, if you have any kind of electronic screen it was manufactured by Panasonic.
He is expected to tell CES attendees about dramatic changes and improvements in display technologies which will become available in 2013.
Other speakers will include Ariana Huffington and Deepak Chopra are scheduled for the 2013 CES and they and others will talk about how the Internet is being considered more than getting messages and information from Points A to B. Today’s Internet is being renamed the “Cloud” because for all intents and purposes it is ubiquitous. It’s possible to access the Internet from almost anywhere on the planet and more corporations are utilizing that universal access to enable employees and users to utilize data and entertainment from servers located worldwide.
Beginning just after New Year you will begin to see news stories about possible new products which will be unveiled at CES. One thing to remember is that each year some of these fairy-tale-like devices which sound too “gee-whiz” to be true are just that. Listen for commentators to suggest that promised technology leaps are “vaporware.” This usually means they are creations on paper – or even perhaps as non-functioning mock-ups.
What I do recommend if you really want to get a ground-floor view of CES from the perspective of average participant watch coverage from Leo Laprote’s TWIT network during the show (www.twit.tv. It will be live, but also feature reruns from the day.
They have a backpack device which utilizes several cell-phone data channels and bonds them into a single high-definition path, providing excellent walking-along and interviewing from the floor video and audio.
Hope you kept your receipts. You might want to take your new presents back and wait a couple of weeks to get the newest gadgets…. I’m just saying and that’s a fact, JACK!