CES Show Preview

It’s that time again. Tens of thousands of people are preparing to head to Las Vegas, Nevada for the yearly CES show. “CES” used to stand for “Consumer Electronics Show” but apparently it doesn’t stand for anything anymore. The show has been aggressively revamping in the last several years. Its owners are trying to stay relevant in a world where most high-end purchases are made online or in big box stores.

So, as we head to CES this year, what’s left to say?

Yes there will probably be huge televisions.

In the public’s eye, CES will forever be associated with huge televisions. The trend of showing ever-larger flat TVs started over a decade ago. I remember seeing a “prototype” 84-incher back in 2006, with a price point that implied that if you had to ask, you couldn’t afford it.

I’m sure that Samsung and LG will have their customary massive booths at the show, filled with the latest in gigantic TVs that positively no one will buy. Oh, people will buy Samsung’s and LG’s TVs but not the ones they show. It seems that $500 is the top end for a sub-65 TV these days and no one under any circumstances is spending more than $1200. Why would you, when a $300 special will give you a picture that puts any TV made before 2010 to shame?

Yes there will be a lot of people in the South and Central Halls.

The show will be busy. I am guessing it won’t be as busy as it’s been in the past. The show’s promoters have really made it harder to get a ticket. You actually need a real job in the industry. It used to be that you just needed a business card, which could say pretty much anything.

But nonetheless I expect that the show floor will be busy at least for the first two days. There’s still enough curiosity and enough people who really want to be a part of things.

But really, it’s going to be about China.

Last year the show separated out all the Chinese vendors into a gigantic tent just south of the main hall. This is where the real business got done. It’s where dealers like Solid Signal met with manufacturers and laid eyes on actual products. This was a real win for us and I suspect we weren’t the only ones. I expect the Chinese pavilion to be even busier this year, with more high-end products to look at.

What will be the hit of the show?

Now, that’s a legitimately tough question. Without a doubt last year we were all talking about smart home products. Google pretty much owned every possible advertising space because they were trying to push Google Home as an alternative to Alexa. Most devices today support both so in that sense they sort of won.

This year… I don’t know. People know about smart home products and I think if we see more of that stuff it will be really silly devices like Alexa enabled dog collars. The technology is super cheap now and so you’re seeing it in everything.

What products will flop?

Last year you saw some previously big tech shoved off to the side. You couldn’t even find a 3D printer anywhere unless you went to the basement of the Sands. This year I expect fitness tech, wearables, and drones to fall by the wayside. People still want to get fit and there is turning out to be a decent market for smartwatches — finally — but it’s mostly Apple and a few other winners, followed by a lot of losers. As for drones, they are cool technology but they’re moving out of the consumer space into serious commercial applications.

No DISH, no AT&T

This year you won’t see either major satellite company at CES. They’re offering a mature service and not something flashy and exciting. Last year’s DISH booth didn’t really have anything new and we already knew they wouldn’t be back.

See you there!

We’ll be on the show floor from Monday until Friday! If you want to meet up, click that “Contact the Editor” link at the bottom of the page!