Why I Avoided CES This Year

by francine Hardaway on January 15, 2012


Image by Sheryl's Boys via Flickr

I didn’t go to CES2012, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t touch my life.

First, why didn’t I go?  For fifteen years, starting in 1997 when I was at Intel, I had gone. After the one year in which I had to man the Intel booth with my colleagues, every year I have trotted through miles and miles of halls looking at the promise of connected living rooms, washing machines that spoke to thermostats, robotic vacuum cleaners, and other futuristic devices. (To be fair, I also went to parties.)

I lived mentally and emotionally in the Connected Living Room, which is what we called it in 1997 when we hoped we could get computers with Pentium chips out of the office and into the home. A few years later it was The Internet of Things, in which we were able to turn our heat down and out lights on before leaving the office. Now it might be The Singularity, in which we and the machine have become one. The computer has moved from the office to the nightstand , and the Internet has migrated with it, right into my blood pressure monitor. This year, I am a quantified self.

All the things adumbrated by CES have now come to pass, although some have been more successful than others (Blu-Ray, Roomba). Rooms full of TV screens with sharper images, better ways to watch sports, take photos, and more fashionable cases for my iPhone. I have seen it all.

So this year I passed on the endless Las Vegas taxi line and the blur of things I will have to replace with new things next year, and decided to explore the things I already own.

Like the XBox. I bought the XBox when Kinect came out a couple of years ago, hooked it up to the TV in my media room, and learned how to dance to “Poker Face.” I loved it until the next shiny object came along: Apple TV. And then the next one: the IPad. Then the XBox sat gathering dust, until I started reading about the updates and reading about Microsoft’s last year at CES (no sooner did MSFT announce that this was its last year  at CES than it’s prime Booth Location in the Central Hall was sold to a Chinese exhibitor.

Yesterday I dusted off the XBox and moved it into the bedroom, where it didn’t have to fight for attention with AppleTV and AirPlay. I plugged it into the huge Visio screen I never watch anymore (since the IPad). First I renewed my enthusiasm for Lady Gaga and “Funky Town” by dancing for a half hour, and then I played a yoga video that calmed even Sammy the puppy down. Until yesterday, I didn’t know the XBox had a DVD player! I had almost gone out and bought one, because none of my new light “ultra” notebooks have one. And then I streamed a movie on Netflix.

Thus I paid homage to CES, a show that has helped me fill my life with  gadgets I use only once or twice a year, most of them now connected to the internet in one way or another. Do I love them? Of course. Do I need them? Of course not. Have they improved my life? That’s where I can’t really decide. Certainly my utility bills are higher, as are my credit card bills.

On balance, the Internet has certainly been a huge addition to my life. But the proliferation  of consumer electronics that has now embraced it to connect me with my other XBox dancers and movie watchers? As we say in the era of Smartphones, IDK.


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{ 2 trackbacks }

10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your CES Experience
January 15, 2012 at 11:50 am
The CES of Things | Eastwick – Blog
January 17, 2012 at 5:55 pm

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