CES 2013: One for the history books

A lot of fun. That’s our verdict on this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In past years, the show had gotten a little boring, a little slow even, especially in years when the Macworld Expo stole its thunder by being on the same day. CES is back with a vengeance, and there’s optimism to spare.

Aside from the big TVs and millions of iPhone cases, there were a few surprises. Makerbot showed a $2,500 3D printer that had their booth buzzing. That’s still a little too much money but no doubt 3D printing is coming and people are very excited about it.

The most surprising showing came from manufacturers you hadn’t heard of (or had barely heard of) but who acted like they were already household names. Companies like Hisense and Huawei had booths that were every bit as packed with high-quality-looking gear as Samsung and Sony. Not as crowded perhaps, but the writing is on the wall for the next tier of CE manufacturers. The big boys had better watch out because these guys are coming!

Of course, there were literally thousands of little companies, many from Shenzhen China, selling parts and bits. Not terribly interesting to the average person but it’s a reminder that this is where the real business of CES comes from — if your gear needs a plug, a touchscreen or a battery these folks were here hoping you would consider them.

As we leave Las Vegas behind, we’ll fondly remember CES2013 not for any large product announcement or humongous TV, but for the enthusiasm that’s returned to the entire CE community. That, above all, was nice to see. It’s been a while.