CES 2009: Themes on the Floor

by: Dan -
As CES 2009 wound down, several themes really jumped out from our four days of press events and pounding the show floor:

The economy stinks and attendance proved it:  While it is not unusual for CES to top 130,000 attendees, it was reported that a mere 110,000 came this year. Being a three-year vet of the show, I can say with certainty that those extra 30k people were not there. The lines at the taxi, tables and booths simply were not near what we have seen in years past. I can’t say I was disappointed, as it made it a lot easier to get our work done and find our way through the labyrinth of the LVCC and surrounding exhibit areas. The one chief indicator I use to gauge CES attendance was that I only had to kick one of those annoying rolling bags out of my way while walking the floor. Usually I’m good for at least four punts a year.

Going Green:  I’m certainly not a hippie and conversely I’m no eco-terrorist. But after watching every single electronics company fall all over themselves trying to tell everyone how “green” they are, Sean and I wanted to puke. I mean hey, it’s a great thing, but probably about 20 years too late and the back patting is a little over the top… Enough with the talk just do it and slap a little sticker on your product showing it meets or exceeds federal standards. It got to the point where we were laughing and wondering how many slides into the presentation a company would promote its green initiatives.

Connected TV:  What is a connected TV? It is TVs that have built in Wi-Fi or Ethernet ports that allow it to be connected with the internet. That way you can stream direct to your TV Netflix, Blockbuster, use Yahoo widgets or dozens of other channels. We saw these at just about every major TV manufacture, so expect to hear about it within the next six-months when you visit Best Buy.

PlayStation 3 makes a comeback:  Last year, it was interesting to see that the Xbox 360 was the overwhelming platform of choice in the booths. This year, it was far more balanced, with many booths having both platforms, and several having just a PlayStation 3. From what was being displayed on it, it was clear that the Blu-Ray aspect was the primary reason it was being used, but many a game were playing on it as well. If the ratio was 3-1 last year, it was probably a 60-40 split this year with the Xbox 360 holding a slight edge.

Throw out those 120Hz Flat Panels:  Just kidding, but the 120Hz has been overtaken by 240Hz technology. After watching 120Hz from inception to implementation, I can say that the 240Hz is a much smoother technology without any of the jerkiness or freakish images that 120Hz sometimes produced. It impacts the whole image, not just portions of the image.

Band Games are everywhere: Like last year when we noticed that the Xbox 360 was the player of choice on the floor, this year it seemed that every other booth had Rock Band or Guitar Hero III as a playable game. In fact, Sean and I started to make a game out of it, which you can read about in the near future.

Wii accessories rule the day:  Despite the Wii being on the same lifecycle as the PlayStation 3 and only a year behind the Xbox 360, it easily dominated the accessories found at the booths on the show floor. If I had to put a number on it, I would say probably a 4-1 ratio of Wii accessories to combined Xbox 360 and PS3.

Time to buy that iPod Touch or iPhone:  If you don’t have an iPod touch yet and have the cash laying around, do yourself a favor and pick one up. They are incredible. And the folks at CES also think both products are, as the amount of audio gear, headphones, cases, sleeves, add-ons and widgets designed to mate with the iPod Touch and iPhone was off the charts. The competition is fierce right now, which also means pricing is competitive and selection is bountiful.

There is good gaming at CES, you just need to look:  One of the myths about CES is that it is not much of a gaming showcase. While it certainly isn’t E3 or PAX, there is more than enough gaming on-site to satisfy even the most hardcore fan or writer. Between the three of us, we experienced demos of unreleased games as Prototype, Resident Evil 5, Dawn of War II, Halo Wars, Killzone II, DC Online, Kodu, Free Realms, Sims 3, Sims Animals, Hasbro Family Game Night for XBLA and many more. Only Kodu was announced at the show (plus a couple more that we are still under NDA on), but gaming is there if you know where to look and who to talk to.
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