Wrapping up in Vegas

Friday January 6, 2006 – Matt got pretty hungry at the convention yesterday so before we left the Plaza we made a quick stop at McDonalds for some breakfast. We parked at the Sahara valet parking today and although they did hassle us a bit we made much better time getting to the show today. Our primary area of concentration today was the South Hall. Most of the computer stuff is found on the second floor of the South Hall. Big booths here included nVidia, Creative, AMD, Palm, HP and others. The lower floor of the South Hall is primarily home automation and audio equipment. We did take a run through there as well but stayed mostly focused on the second floor. In the afternoon we split up for a while and I continued looking through booths in the Central Hall and made a stop at the DL.TV booth where I bumped into Vinny again. After watching the tail end of the DL.TV recording for the day Vinny and I continued through the Central Hall. Around four-thirty we started getting tired and met Matt at the Hilton. Vinny took part in “Star Trek the Experience” to recoup some of his parking money while Matt and I called another friend to find some good places to eat. Ed suggested we try the Rio if we were interested in a buffet. After last year’s less than stellar buffet experience at the Mirage I was a bit hesitant but Matt and I decided to give it a go. The biggest challenge was to locate the buffet once we got inside the Rio. Signage in Las Vegas casinos is notoriously lacking. Eventually we located the buffet and although it wasn’t a deal it was a much better experience than last year. I’d probably visit it again although I have heard the buffet at Steve Wynn’s new Wynn Casino is quite good as well. After eating ’till our heart’s content we returned to the Plaza. I did some catching up on the WiFi connection from down the street while Matt went out on Freemont Street.

Saturday January 7, 2006 – When I got up this morning Matt told me he was going to sleep in and get one of those famous cheap Las Vegas breakfasts so I headed down to the show by myself. I parked in the Stardust lot today and hiked over to the convention center. On the way over I noticed $5 parking in the LVCC lot so I think we’ll try parking there tomorrow. I spent the first part of my day in the Central Hall. Soon after I arrived (around 9:45) the power went out in the Microsoft booth for everything that was powered from the ceiling grid (mostly lighting). It’s the first time I’ve seen a power outage at CES so it was memorable. A bit later I found out that DL.TV was doing a taping in the early afternoon so I spent a little time looking at the international marketplace at the Hilton before heading over there. In the past year I’ve learned to be more interested in what is going on internationally with consumer electronics as a lot of what you see on retail store shelves is rebranded, imported electronics. You can find manufacturers of anything from alarm clocks to Ethernet switches to displays who are ready and willing to cut a deal for custom branding right at the Hilton. This is one of the ways I see what’s coming down the pipe a year ahead of schedule, it’s also one of the most under visited and under reported parts of the show. One of the other things you notice is that the weekend crowd can be quite different from the weekday crowd at the show. Many of the executives head home on Friday night or Saturday morning and you see more of the average public on the weekend, especially in the car audio area. After spending a bit of time looking over the international products at the Hilton I walked back to the DL.TV taping. I took a series of behind the scenes photos of the taping which will hopefully be picked up by the folks at DL.TV. After the taping concluded I hooked up with Matt and we cruised the South and Central Halls some more looking over the products coming out from the major players. Around 4:30 I headed off to church at the Las Vegas Cathedral and Matt drove back to the hotel to try and catch up on email. Matt picked me back up later and we drove out to the Orleans for dinner. This was another restaurant suggested by Ed but it wasn’t as big a hit as the Rio buffet, partly due to poor service and partly due to bland food but it was much less expensive. After dinner we drove down to the America Café in New York, New York where we had a slice of the New York Cheesecake (they have extra large slices here) for dessert. Once we got back to the hotel we packed up our second laptop and headed down to Freemont Street in search of a better internet connection. Matt did a little work while I watched the Freemont Street show and we topped it all off with a Krispy Kreme doughnut.

Sunday January 8, 2006 – Today is the last day of the show. We stopped at McDonalds on the way out of the hotel again to pick up a quick breakfast. I decided to go for the $5 parking across from the LVCC today which worked out quite nicely. We spent most of the day (which ends at 4:00) today playing games and attending product demonstrations in search of the elusive swag. I did end up winning a Creative Zen Micro/Photo digital media player along with a number of T-Shirts and hats although the total amount of swag given away continued to decline this year. One interesting product I did see today was a Bluetooth cordless phone from Uniden. The unique thing about this phone was that it would allow you to not only use a Bluetooth headset, but you could connect in your cell phone via Bluetooth and use it as a second line from any of the handsets. I think this product would be of interest to a lot of people with unlimited nights and weekends on their cell phones if Uniden could find a way to get the price down some more. After leaving the show Matt and I drove out to Metro Pizza which is supposed to be the local pizza joint in Las Vegas. The prices were great and our pizza had a wonderful crust if only a mediocre sauce. I would recommend trying Metro Pizza as an alternative to the many chains and casino restaurants found in Vegas. After finishing dinner we drove back to the hotel and headed down to Freemont Street to see if we could get an internet connection and some “deep fried Oreos” that Matt had been eyeing all week. The Oreos were interesting and novel if not especially tasty. Along the way we encountered some rather poignant Christian protesters in the middle of Freemont Street. I wonder how much this negative attitude actually works, especially with the street crowd in Las Vegas who didn’t take too kindly to the message of doom and gloom.

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