CES 2021: I didn’t see, I didn’t come. Let’s wrap it up.

Generally one of the last articles I write about CES looks like this one. I talk about what I saw, I put a nice little spin on it, and I give you my opinion about the way things will go in the future.

But, it’s the ’21 show, which obviously was nothing like previous shows. Let’s take a look at

Biggest surprise of the show

The biggest surprise of the show was the number of people who texted me over the last three days to ask if I was actually in Las Vegas at the show. Generally, there are a good number of puff pieces on broadcast TV about CES, and somehow the news reports this year didn’t get the message across that the show was all virtual.

After that, I’ll say the biggest surprise of the actual show was that the meetings weren’t really that bad. Oh, the big keynotes still were, but there were a decent number of panel discussions that were just made up of honest folks who wanted to talk honestly about things they knew about.

Biggest product reveal of the show


OK there weren’t a lot of product reveals. Certainly nothing from our vendors. Of course Samsung and LG were too far along in their product calendars not to show something. But aside from talk of TVs no one can afford and silly things like roll-up phones, there wasn’t a lot of product talk.

I didn’t really bring you news of some of the health-related stuff at CES because just like you I was basically working off articles I found on the web. There could have been hundreds of companies working on very timely things for today’s world, but they didn’t make a real impact at CES.

If I really had to give some sort of straight answer here, I guess I’d point toward Intel’s 11th-gen chips, which will start rolling out in a few months. They’re designed to give power with even more energy efficiency, so that laptops can truly have all-day battery life even if you play games on them.

Where do we go from here?

I do think that the show will be back to its in-person format in ’22. Las Vegas is aching to bring back hundreds of thousands of people in the first two weeks of January. But will the show really be back to its former glory? I doubt it. I think that you’ll see fewer exhibitors, especially among those small-to-midsize companies that don’t need to be there. The startups will still be there trying to get attention, and the big guys with their dancing TVs will still make the central hall fun. But I forecast a 20% drop in vendor participation from ’20 and a 40% drop in attendance.

Even in January ’22 I don’t think that as many folks will be willing to smash themselves into a closed space with comrades from all over the world. That kind of thing may just be a thing of the past. I do hope that they continue recording the panel discussions and making them available later. That was a real win.

It’s too early to say…

I’m not writing the epitaph for the country’s largest tech show just yet, but if it ever gets back to its former glory it’s going to take time. Time, and a lot of interesting products that hopefully I can’t wait to see.

See you next year, CES!

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.