Gadling visits the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show – so you don’t have to

If you ever need proof of how much we love our readers, you’d only need to take a look at my feet. For the past couple of days, I made up the entire Gadling 2010 CES team, on a mission to find the neatest travel friendly gadgets, gizmos and services.

With over 2700 exhibitors, the CES is one of the largest shows in the world. The show is split between three halls, and several hotels. Of course, we leave the hardcore coverage of CES to our friends over at Engadget, who are the official blog of the event, and need their own double wide trailer to house their team.

Because I am writing for travelers, I’ll spare you the stories of how 3D TV “will change the way we watch TV”, or how the new Android operating system will power your washing machine, and will focus on the kind of technology that can make travel more entertaining or productive.

The trends that matter to travelers

  • Green technology
  • Ebook readers
  • More powerful netbook computers
  • Cool new cases

That’s it – unlike previous years, there was no really impressive new technology heading our way, and the general direction most companies took was to improve on their existing line of products. Still, during my three day tour of duty, I did come across some impressive new items, so stay tuned later this week to read all about them.

CES itself is something everyone should experience at least once. I’ve been doing trade shows for many years, including larger shows like CeBit in Germany. There is one thing they all have in common – trade shows are hell. CES is special, because they don’t allow the general public to visit. Everyone must wear a badge, and visitors are either exhibitors, manufacturers, engineers, CES guests, industry affiliates, press or bloggers.

Green Technology

In case you didn’t know – “green is in”. In fact, anything eco-friendly is really hot right now. Green technology has been added to chargers, battery packs, and even online travel guides. Later this week, I’ll show off some of the best new green gear.

Ebook readers

Every company has at least one ebook reader in their assortment. In fact, entire sections of the CES floor are devoted entirely to ebook readers and companies that develop ebook technology. Apparently, there are plenty of others who want a piece of the Sony and Amazon ebook market. This is obviously great for us, as it’ll bring prices down.

More powerful netbook computers

Several years ago, the first netbook computers appeared. In those few short years, the netbook has greatly evolved into a true replacement for the “normal” laptop. Of course, when people get rid of their bulky machine and switch to the netbook, they discover the shortcomings. First generation machines were slow, had poor screen resolutions, bad battery life and useless keyboards.

Companies apparently learned from their mistakes, because the newest generation shown off at CES is very impressive. More machines with 3G, 12 hour battery life and processor power for watching HD movies on the road. Prices are also coming down. More on the newest developments later this week.

Impressive new machines were announced by most major manufacturers, with some of the coolest coming from HP, who added faster processors, touch screen options and a neat airport friendly carrying handle to their latest.

Cool new cases

Every year, hundreds of companies announce new cases and bags at CES. Sadly, only a handful of them are actually innovative. Thankfully I’ve seen enough cases in my life to know who has something cool to announce, and who is just making more of the same. The best of the best will soon pass through Gadling.

Other interesting sights from the show

It won’t come as much of a surprise, but people love free crap. I sat on a sofa in the “press lounge” watching blogger after blogger try and grab as much free crap as possible. I witnessed people grab every single catalog, pen, sticker and bag they could, obviously not caring one bit about having to drag all that junk around all day. I left Vegas with less than I arrived with. I like my press materials in email, and I don’t care for freebies (unless they are worth more than $1000).

The only thing cooler than seeing new gadgets, is meeting the PR people behind them. In my “line of work”, I do a lot of communication with PR people in email, and finally being able to meet them in person is just fantastic. PR people don’t get the respect they deserve, and I for one admire their ability to stand on the show floor for four days trying to explain how awesome the product is that they represent (even if it isn’t).

Distances between halls and events are a problem at CES – and if you can’t schedule (like me), you’ll end up with an appointment in one hall, followed by an appointment 2 halls down, followed by one back at the first one. At the end of three days, I was ready for a replacement set of feet.

CES is held at the same time as the Adult Entertainment Expo (which is at the Sands halls), and several CES events are also at the Venetian (the unofficial hotel of the adult show). The difference in crowds is fantastic. Sitting down at the Venetian, watching people walk around heading to the two different shows is a show on its own. Suit – suit – porn star – suit – suit – porn star. You get the picture. Our very own Tom Johansmeyer used to cover the adult industry, and has a very insightful article on the current state of affairs over at Daily Finance.

And finally – if you are ever in Las Vegas, you’ll want to avoid the Las Vegas Hilton. It isn’t necessarily a bad hotel, it just isn’t up to the same standards as the newer Vegas properties. Note to hotel owners: a 40 year old hotel is not considered “renovated” when all you do is clean up the lobby and put a flat panel TV in the room. Oh, and the $13.99 Internet charge is just plain insulting, especially when so many cheaper hotels in Vegas offer it for free.

Still, the location of the Hilton can’t be beat and the staff were all mighty friendly, despite the insane crowds. Of course, come Monday, Vegas will return to its normal self, and will once again be a bit of a ghost town.