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CES Show Floor

Last week's Consumer Electronics Show attracted over 140,000 attendees, marking the largest turnout in years for the technology trade show. Although the focus this year was squarely on 3D-ifying everything, there were a few gaming announcements — most impressively the prototype for Razer's Switchblade gaming tablet and the chatting possibilities within Microsoft’s Avatar Kinect.

Since I had never been to the convention before, my first impulse was to attack CES the same way that I attack my first playthrough of a level in a game: by testing the boundaries. The plan was to see everything before delving into the stuff that really intrigued me. In this case, my typically reliable inclination to parallel any situation to gaming led to my downfall.

 

CES is huge. The event is located at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and I managed to make it from the entrance to the back wall of the showroom floor in about 15 minutes. That's when I realized there was an upstairs area that mirrored my recent trek. I didn't even know about the other building next door, also full of exhibits and booths, or that this second building was merely the "center walkway" connecting where I had entered in the South to the North side of the Convention. I hadn’t grabbed a map, so each new discovery was like reaching the top of a mountain only to find yourself still short of the peak. Suddenly those signs I had seen earlier for "golf cart rides" made sense.

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Booth after booth beckoned, but I was intent on getting a feel for the different sections and divisions before settling on an area to explore in detail. The largest booths were from industry leaders like Sony, Samsung, and Verizon, displaying huge banks of TVs that flashed pretty colors across the showroom floors and beckoned passers-by to pick up 3D glasses for a peek at the future. In between these heavy hitters were smaller booths, hocking gadgets and gidgets of every sort, some of it nearly indistinguishable from the goofy kind of crap that you might see at your county fair.

My search for game booths brought me past…

Show floor

3D everything. Want it or not, everyone is going to give it to you. Perhaps an increase in production and competition will drive down the costs a bit….

Pico projecting

The first thing I saw when I walked in was this guy on his phone playing a shooter that he was pico projecting against a wall…very cool.

Glasses-free 3D

Glasses-free 3D, finally! They tell me I just have to be standing riiiight there. No wait, to the right a little. Little more. Can you kinda see it? Sigh.

Inflatable kart 1

Surely, this can't be a real thing, can it?

Inflatable kart 2

It's a real thing.

Razer Switchblade

Aside from all the 3D, many proclaimed this year’s CES "the year of the tablet." Here’s the Razer Switchblade.


Continue on to page two for booth babes, tasers, doodads you strap on your head, and Peter's conclusions.

Peripherals

Always on the lookout for gaming gear, I spied an ample amount of gaming headsets. It was tough to tell which ones to get because they all claim to be "the best." (Note in the background: It isn't a trade show without MadCatz!)

Booth babe

What is this, Comic-Con? Not even CES is too classy for booth babes.

Taser

More in line with the county fair aesthetic — or even a late-night infomercial — this revolutionary new taser gun was being demoed on people right on the showroom floor. They also had a taser shotgun. Amazing.

Gesture control

Look out, Kinect, you’ve got competition! A motion-gesture TV.

Doodad

Someday, we’ll all be playing games with doodads on our heads. This doodad paralleled your in-game view with the direction of your head.

Fast and the Post Office

Not sure what the US Postal Service has to do with the arcade tie-in to a nearly 10-year-old movie.

I didn't see everything at CES 2011 — that would have been impossible in a day — and I fear my hurry to set the boundaries of the show merely left me out of breath and with a less comprehensive view of the conference's successes. A lot of the innovations on display were niche and field specific. In cases like that, you’ll probably have to be an expert in the area in question to single out the year’s big breakthroughs.

Niche or not, I can see why CES has become one of the largest electronics shows of the year. It’s the perfect yearly check-in for exhibitors to show off exciting developments and announce new projects sure to trickle out over the rest of the year. In spite of 2011's single-minded 3D focus, CES welcomed all of us tech nerds and gadget geeks unconditionally.

However, here's some free advice for anyone thinking of going to the show next year — or going to any convention, really: Take it slow. If I could use one word to describe CES, it would be "overwhelming," but if I could use three, they would be "my feet hurt." After spending the better half of a day rubbernecking and swag shopping, all I could think was, "Oh, my aching doggies."

Next year I’m bringing a Segway.

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