CES Unveiled is an annual press-only event that happens before CES officially starts. It allows selected exhibitors to show off their wares to the press before the madness of the showfloor. It’s always held in the Venetian Ballroom, there is always a bunch of free food and an open bar, and always a lot of press people.
Now, the Venetian Ballroom is not a huge venue. Therefore, it’s pretty surprising how many people CES managed to invite and cram into this thing. Honestly, it was probably illegal in the Fire Code sense how many people were in this room. Here’s an example from a perspective only Bobby Tallcamera can provide:
Everybody in there was in a mad rush for the free food and open bars. I felt particularly bad for the waitstaff who had to try to finangle their way through the herd with trays full of hot food. I got shoved in the back, more than just gently, by some surly press person who decided to abandon human decency—and I wasn’t the only one. The only conclusion I can draw is that there are simply too many people invited to CES Unveiled. They need to hold this thing in a bigger space if they want to keep it up.
The real losers here are the exhibitors. I imagine it can’t be cheap to buy a booth spot in this premiere event… Yet with such a crush it can be very difficult to give your pitch to press people who are constantly being jostled and whose sole mission is to get food, get drinks, and get out alive. I removed myself from the hubbub and stepped back near the exit doors and chatted up a photographer for a few minutes. He wasn’t press—he was there in an official capacity for the CEA (the organization that puts CES together) as an event photographer. He too was shaking his head at the madness. “This is just plain crazy,” he mused.
Plain crazy indeed. When we arrived (15 minutes after the doors opened), this was the massive shrimp display:
Yeah, it was like that. Get the shrimp and get out was the order of the day.
Don’t get me wrong; the food was excellent and the open bar was serving a step above well liquor. The cheese trays were exemplary. They had a very, very good Gouda. They even had a lovely ice luge serving up blue drank. It was so accessible, we got chatted up by an enthusiastic older woman who wanted desperately to explain “The Cloud” to us as she sloshed her bright blue vodka everywhere.
Okay, perhaps I’m being a bit too cynical. I got to meet up with a PR agent that I’ve worked with for years, ran into an old press buddy, and nailed down a couple of cool review gadgets for Icrontic. One of the intriguing things that I was able to get more than a glimpse at was a Swedish company called Gametel who makes a one-size-fits-all “grip” that turns an Android or iPhone device into a handheld gaming console. It uses Bluetooth to communicate with the handset, and if your phone is HDMI equipped, you’ve got yourself a mini console system. We also met up with OWC, makers of Mercury Electra SSDs, and Activision, who were showing off Skylanders.
After a brief time in this crush of humanity, your only thought is escaping with your fistful of business cards and 512mb USB press kits. The rush of Venetian-perfumed, cool air that greets you at the door as you weave your way amongst the poor frenzied tick-a-tack-type journalists as they sprawl every which way across the floor in the hallways (absolutely determined to get the first “CES UNVEILED” articles up on the web) is a welcome one indeed.