The base of CES is at the Las Vegas Convention Center. They also have booths and events at the Sands Exhibition Center, though they're more the newer companies, or "tech zones," and the Best of Innovations award winners, and things like that. Often very interesting but a bit out of the mainstream.
LVCC is broken into three halls -- whimsically named South, Central and North. (The press room is in the South Hall, hence giving them top building.) The Central hall has always been the core of the show -- the Big Guys, like Sony, Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Sharp and...well, you get the idea. For years that was where I went first. Over time, I began drifiting more to the South Hall, that had a lot of smaller companies that had single or limited product lines. It was an area of products that appealed to me.
To be clear, the products of the Big Guys interested me, too, hugely. But bit by bit, I started I started to get "scared" by them at the Central Hall. They were SO massive, with SO many people, and SO many products that you felt like you were getting swallowed by an ocean. All this with mammoth video screens, pounding music and lights. It's sensory overload. All that, compounded further because these companies don't just have one television, they have about 30 different models -- or more. Each of them. The sets are all amazing, but it became hard to differentiate between models of any company...and they all blend together over all those similar mammoths. And that's just TVs -- now expand that to their entire product lines. Notebook computers, tablets, radios, phones, washing machines, on and one. And the explanations to make each model seem different, important, The Best are written in language of tech-geek speak that no normal human uses. Or understands. Eventually, I realized a Great Reality. That for products at this end, at this level, it doesn't matter much what a writer or reviewer says. You're going to ask your friends, "What TV do you use?" Or you'll go to Best Buy, look at the display, check the prices and say, "I'll take that one." So, more and more I went to the Central Hall less and less.
And this year, I decided to pretty much not go at all. I wandered through a little of it this morning, but that was really just to get to the Stream TV Networks booth. (And it was remarkable still...) But that was it.
Instead, I wandered across the Concourse to the North Hall. For years I avoided that -- it was largely automotive products. They're still there, but two years ago CES had a brilliant brainstorm. Rather than have products for Apple iDevices all through the show, they're now collected in the large and very enjoyable iLounge. And so, after lunch, I'm headed back there to finish up.
But this year, for the first time, pretty much no Central Hall. A fond salute...