Another CES is in the books. Switching entirely to virtual meant it was less of a show than usual – and since it was already a show that had been declining in terms of influence for several years, we could feel it. And yet: there were some great stories to follow and things to learn about what lies ahead in consumer technology.
That’s the thing at CES: most of the time, the best technology shown here is conceptual, wildly expensive, far in the future, or all of the above. We are interested in it not because we expect to find it in a store next week, but because it informs the things we will find in stores in the next two years. Also, we are interested in it because giant screens are drugs, especially when they bend.
This year, I think there are some big trends that need to be followed. There are these concepts. But there was also a lot of real news about the processor with upcoming release dates. AMD, Intel and Nvidia have announced components that could make some very great laptops (especially gaming laptops). And then: countless laptops have been announced that will use these parts.
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Was there a pod-based ice cream machine that fun-loving people enjoyed and grunts like me grumbled? Yes. There is always a gadget that explodes and gets more attention than we expected. The job of this year’s virtual CES is that there was simply no less choice. We had almost as many messages as usual, but we didn’t have the weird corners of the show floor where we could find diamonds in this very rough convention center.
I know this is not an experience that most people should have. For most of you, CES has always were virtual. But we’ll never know what sales deals won’t be made, or the crazy speakers won’t get attention because several hundred thousand people have stayed away from Vegas this year.
Five years ago, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to walk around the CES show with Walt Mosberg, just to mess with things that were new then. After looking at the summary of CES 2021 at the top of this post, I recommend you take a look at what CES 2016 was like below. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I hope to be able to return to the personal show next year.