OffBeat

CES 2014: What in god’s name have I gotten myself into?

Above: Sunday afternoon at CES, before the show begins.

Image Credit: J. O'Dell / VentureBeat

CES 2014

CES gesture controls at PrimeSense What will be hot in consumer electronics and computing in 2014? Read our full coverage of International CES 2014 to find out.

LAS VEGAS — I have been told to prepare for an apocalypse event at the world’s largest zoo.

This is my first trip to CES. The guy next to me on the plane told me it was “a pain in the ass.” The cabbie who brought be from the airport to the Strip said it was, with 100,000 attendees, the biggest show in Vegas.

(Take that, Celine Dion.)

So I prepared. For the past month or longer, I’ve been on a regimen of vitamins, nasal steroids, and list-making.

I have lists of lists. I have itineraries, highlighted spreadsheets, color-coded maps for each day — all printed out and stapled.

My “mom purse” is a calculated mini-bunker of Band-Aids for blisters, pills for every imaginable ailment, and wet wipes for every surface and body part.

I am an Eagle Scout. I am an assassin. I am Jack Ryan. I am too big to fail.


The press room boss is backstage, showing me a map of the meeting rooms. Just the meeting rooms in the south hall of the convention center. The map covers the wall above a long folding table.

He’s trying to explain the exact location of the VentureBeat staff room, but somewhere along the way, his voice melts into a thick fuzz, and I realize I’m muttering, “Dude … dude …,” under my breath.

I am Jack Ryan’s churning stomach.

I’ve covered a lot of shows. For several years running, I made SXSW my … . That is, I covered it well without getting lost or flustered. I’m good with navigating large, crowded spaces.

But CES is vast. Vast like the Serengeti.

It’s miles of halls and floors and rooms and stages. It just goes on and on. There is no horizon, because it is a labyrinth. There is, quite literally, no end in sight.

Right now, the convention center and the Strip are empty, and I’m realizing the best idea I ever had in my life was coming to this show a day before anything actually started. Not to get the lay of the land — to get my spirit broken.

It’s like the fella said: We make plans, and god laughs. As if the universe is trying to prove a point, I get lost almost immediately once I’m on the show floor. Already, this one hall on one floor in one building of CES has handed my highlighted, color-coded, collated butt to me.

In my mind, the glowing, ashen edges of my now-flaming itinerary flutter in the choppy Vegas breeze.

A couple miles (not exaggerating) later, I find my way from god-knows-where in the bowels of the Las Vegas Convention Center to a taxi cab and head for the comforts of a well-stocked kitchenette.

On the ride back, I look with newly opened eyes at my pathetic little spreadsheet — my Eureka Park gameplan. Now that I’ve seen the tip of the iceberg, I realize my own personal Titanic is about to sink, cold and broken, beneath the dark and unforgiving waves of a trade show that defies measurement.

What in god’s name have I gotten myself into?


We’ll have lots more coming from the show, so stay tuned to our CES hub for more news, gadgets, and interviews.