CES 2020: The stuff no one else will report on

Day one of CES in Las Vegas is always busy. Except this year, it was noticeably quieter than in past years. I’m not going to say the show is slow, only it wasn’t wall-to-wall people like it has been in prior years. Even on the busiest day of the show it was possible to find a lot of quiet spots.

The big booths were still full…

I’m waiting to spend a little time with Samsung, LG, Sony, and others tomorrow when they aren’t so busy. I know you read a lot of other blogs and you probably know what’s in those booths anyway. Today I ventured out into the North and Central halls in search of stories that no one else will report on.

’80s tech is back, baby

Probably the most surprising trend of the show was the return of some very retro-looking tech. Three years ago I brought you a report on some retro tech that was part of the show at that time, but this year it was really prevalent. About half of the busy Central Hall was filled with the kind of gear you would have found at the 1987 CES. Don’t believe me?

This cassette player looks like it might have adorned a teen’s room in 1984 and it wasn’t the only one on the floor. I was honestly surprised to see so many cassette products out on the show floor. After all, this is not a technology which I thought anyone fondly remembered.

I reached out to a millennial friend, who told me that their generation really digs cassettes, especially the ones they find in grandpa’s closet. It’s a way of experiencing music that they hadn’t heard before, and bonding with the people who made it and first heard it.

Whatever. If it sells, great.

Another common sight was the sort of party speaker we all wished we’d had. Of course it was decked out with LED tech that wouldn’t have been possible back in the day, but who wouldn’t have wanted to blast The Cure or Siouxsie and the Banshees with one of these bad boys in the backyard?

Count me in. I want to Rock the Casbah like I used to.

Trends that will definitely lead to the end of civilization

So this picture isn’t the greatest, let me tell you what was happening here. Delta, yes the airline people, had a large booth at the show. What, you don’t believe me? Fine, here’s a picture.

The closeup picture shows an exoskeleton (like the one they used in Aliens) in front of an no I am not making this up robot hand like the one from Terminator 2: Judgment Day. 

I can absolutely guarantee that someone will live to regret doing this. At least until the robots rise up and crush that person, which I can absolutely guarantee will happen.

People who just need to rethink things

Look folks, I know, it’s the name of a place in Japan. But you get a bunch of techies together and everyone has way too much caffeine and then spends too much time walking and then you spring this on them:

I don’t know who OKA is or if they had it coming (I’ll wait while you catch up.)

I’m just saying I was not the only person who “went there” in their mind. I think if you’re going to sell in the English-speaking market you probably need to rethink your branding.

And then, finally, there was Huawei.

This company is actually one of the largest tech manufacturers in the world so ok, you would think they belong at CES. But, as I’ve reported, they’re under repeated criminal investigation and they are barely able to sell anything in the US. Yet they probably spent $100,000 on this booth to show things that will never make it into the US market. I don’t know.


Tomorrow I walk the South Hall and I might double back to show you that just like everyone else, I’m prepared to take a picture of the giant TVs in the Central Hall. Here’s one to tide you over if you can’t wait.

This is Sony’s Master Series 96″ 8K television. If it actually sells, it will probably go for 85 gadzillion dollars this year and be in Costco by next Christmas for $4.99. Yep, that’s just the world we live in.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.