Gadgets

CES: Your giant tech show orgy survival guide

Image Credit: Dean Takahashi

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.

The orgy of technology known as the 2014 International CES is about to get under way. As a veteran of many trade events in Las Vegas, I’ve picked up a lot of tips for getting by at one of the world’s largest tech tradeshows. I’ve also asked around for pointers and assembled them all here for you.

It’s going to be overcrowded, with 150,000 or so attendees checking out 3,300 booths across 1.9 million square feet of exhibit space. The press days take place on Sunday and Monday, but by Monday evening, the show attendees arrive in force, and everything becomes crowded. (The CES show floor officially opens at 10 a.m. Pacific time Tuesday). When that many people get together, Murphy’s Law rules. First-time Vegas goers should watch The Hangover for a hint of the things that can and will go wrong in Sin City.

VentureBeat Devindra Hardawar, Jolie O’Dell, and Tom Cheredar join me in reporting live from the event. On top of that, we’ll have a crew of offsite writers looking for goodies to write about, too. For the sake of comparison, here’s my tips from last year.

The crowd at CES 2013.

Above: The crowd at CES 2013.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar

1. Take comfortable shoes. My twist on this is to take old shoes. Given a choice between looking good or feeling comfortable or trying to break in new shoes that are supposed to be comfortable, I’ll take the comfort. It’s not unusual to walk something like 5 to 8 miles a day across the vast convention floor. Last year, I clocked about 31 miles on my step counter over five days. That’s something like 14 hours a day on my feet. I’m glad I didn’t get a blister from bad shoes.

2. Bring your meds. Ibuprofen is a must for the bone-aching sores you get at the end of the day. The air is dry in the desert, too, so try to get nab a humidifier from the hotel for your room. Take lip balm, hand sanitizer, and vitamins. If you run into Jolie O’Dell, she will gladly supply you with some of this from her emergency kit.

3. Love your batteries. My iPhone always dies on me, so I’ve got a Lenmar battery-charging case. Even then, I’ll try to kill as many apps as I can and turn it off for a fair amount of the time just to be able to make it through the day. Bring a surge protector with multiple outlets so you can use it in the one room where everyone has taken the outlets already. It will make you friends.

My old backpack.

Above: My old backpack.

Image Credit: Tyler Osburn, CJR

4. Have a backup for everything. I carry multiple laptops, batteries, audio recorders, cameras, and just about anything else I can. During all of the shows I’ve been to, I’ve lost something really important or lost power when I really need it. Don’t expect to be able to get on Wi-Fi, or even a Mi-Fi, during a big event like a keynote speech. I don’t pack as crazy as I used to, as there’s a trade-off if you have too much to carry.

5. Stop at a grocery store. Buy some water, fruit, and snacks. Use these for energy restoration when you’re on the run.

6. Get some sleep. Vegas will always be there.

7. Have some fun. Check the Karennet CES Party List for things to do, or just to find out the parties you can’t get into. I suggest first-time press to attend the Showstoppers, Pepcom, and CES Unveiled parties just to see a lot of things at once. But you have to have an invitation.

8. Be prepared to miss appointments. Count on delays in getting to places on the convention floor. Sometimes you’re late. Sometimes your counterpart is late. It pays to have the person’s cellphone number, since you can arrive at a big booth and not know where to find your appointment within it. Build in walking time and delays when you’re changing venues.

9. Focus on what’s important to you, and then do about half of it. Think about what you’ve seen and figure out the trends. When you run into other people, ask them what they’ve seen that was really cool.

10. Escaping the convention center can be tough. Catch a bus if you can. Ride the monorail if it’s near your hotel. But the cab line at the end of the day is usually horrible, whether you’re at the convention center or the LVH hotel nearby. Putting a car into valet parking can also put you in jeopardy for a long line on the way out.

Read on for tips 11 through 28, including Dean Takahashi’s secret weapon.

glasvegas

11. If you’ve got a rental car, park smart. Don’t get stuck in traffic jams near the convention center. If you park in a hotel self-parking garage, write down where you parked. It’s easy to forget, and then you’re stuck walking through a 10-story garage in search of a rental car that you may not easily recognize.

12. Roll your bag around as much as possible. That is, unless you prefer having something weighing down your back for 12 hours. A $29 luggage cart from a store like Bed, Bath & Beyond will save your back if you just tie your backpack to it and roll it around. You may run over other people’s feet, but better their feet than your back. [Editor's note: This is Takahashi's secret weapon. Goofy but effective.]

13. Brand yourself and wear your company shirt. People may recognize your company the next time around, and you’ll meet people you wouldn’t ordinarily otherwise.

14. Make some time to walk the show floor. That’s where you can pick up some context for big patterns. If you’re seeing the same old thing, that’s a clue that you’ll have to look elsewhere for innovation. If you find things that delight you, you’re in luck.

15. Think twice before walking to a hotel that looks close. Yes, the cab line is long and you might think you can get there faster by walking. But it’s probably a bad idea because the hotels are really large, giving them a mirage-effect that makes them look they are really close. The Strip is much, much longer than it appears.

The star of Star Trek Into Darkness was nervous on stage, judging from the sweat on her upper lip. 4K and 8K resolution won't be kind to celebrities who don't look good in extreme close-ups.

Above: The star of Star Trek Into Darkness was nervous on stage, judging from the sweat on her upper lip. 4K and 8K resolution won’t be kind to celebrities who don’t look good in extreme close-ups.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

16. Try very hard not to lose your phone. Look around the seat when you exit a cab. Wear something where you can zip up your pockets or lock it into a compartment in a purse.

17. Print out essential information. It’s good to have a printed backup of anything, like your calendar or directions, that you won’t be able to access if you lose your phone.

18. Be prepared for terrible reception. Cellphone and wireless data signals are getting better, but still pretty spotty in a lot of places. Text messages usually get through — eventually — but you’ll have to remember to check your phone occasionally, as you won’t always hear the notification sounds for incoming messages. CES is noisy.

19. Pack enough business cards. Kevin Dent reminds me of this obvious tip, which afflicts about 1 in every 10 people. Half of those are people who remembered to bring their cards to Vegas but then left them in their luggage or hotel rooms.

20. Try to schedule appointments in geographic blocks. It’s a little late for this, but try to put your appointments in the same halls in the same block of time. It’s hard to move between halls or venues in a timely way.

21. Don’t miss your flight on the way out. If you’re traveling at a prime time, watch out for the lengthy security lines.

22. Arrive early for keynotes. The lines are long. If you can’t get in, check out a livestream or a liveblog.

It didn't have much to do with Qualcomm, but this was definitely the right way to close the keynote.

Above: It didn’t have much to do with Qualcomm, but this was definitely the right way to close the keynote.

Image Credit: Devindra Hardawar/VentureBeat

23. Drink a lot of water. But make sure you know where the bathrooms are.

24. If you need a cup of coffee, get it off the Strip or in your hotel. The lines at the convention center are absurdly long for food or coffee.

25. Don’t go. OK, maybe not. When I asked for the best tips on surviving CES on my Facebook page, a bunch of people counseled me to skip the whole thing altogether. It’s not too late for that.

26. Make a reservation. If you go out for dinner, make sure you get a reservation.

27. Avoid getting into elevators with people who are jumping up and down in them.

28. Take a good camera. You’ll be sure to capture a lot of fun moments. But share wisely, because what happens in Vegas. …

0 comments