USB sticks from CES 2014This year’s visit to the International Consumer Electronics Showcase ran (for me) from Sunday through Wednesday (well, actually Thursday – thanks a lot Delta). And this year was just as overwhelming as the last. Thousands of new products, some great, some terrible, and many, many copies of the same idea all claiming to be the first to create said product. That’s innovation for you.

This is just a bunch of random memories and thoughts about CES 2014 while I finish playing with some of the review units I walked away with. Don’t expect any great insights (well, not that you would from me, anyway).

This year brought a heavy emphasis on vapor smoking, fitness monitors, Bluetooth 4.0 low energy devices, gun safes, biometrics, bridging the gaps in cell service (getting that one extra bar), bendable screens, remote controlled virtual people extenders (iPad on a stick), 4K (and 5K) TV, wearable tech and sensors, 3D batch pig printers, car integration, bringing tech into every aspect of our lives whether we need it or not (do we really need a BT4.0 meat thermometer?), and of course more wireless portable Bluetooth stereo speakers than you can shake a stick at.

Let me emphasize that it felt like regardless of the company – be that a tech company or some place selling paper ducks – a branded Bluetooth speaker was offered this year. However, this year, Bluetooth pretty much didn’t work in any demos I went to, just because there were too many people with Bluetooth devices wandering around. As usual, internet also worked its best to fail whenever I needed it the most.

I saw Michael Bay stumble, claiming the text was off at the Samsung conference (I was near the teleprompters, and it didn’t look off to me…) and the reaction online was amazing. While the potential for mockery was astounding (“Michael Bay’s obviously never read a script,” “Samsung’s only viral moment ever,” etc.), it reminded me that the stage can be a scary place. I still laughed a bit, though, because I’m a really bad person.

I did something kind of neat this year and walked all of CES. Last year, I’d cabbed it from the airport and shuttled from point a to b as the days went on, whereas this year I grabbed my bags and walked off the plane to the hotel on foot, and hoofed it for a total of 21.5 miles over four days  according to Google Maps, hotel door to hotel door, which is not counting show floors and in-hotel activities, which seemed to be about the same. Yay, I’m cheap! Mostly I wanted to know if it was possible to walk out of the Las Vegas airport. It is. It is also possible, but not particularly pleasant, to never pay for a ride or food at CES.

Monday, after hours of press conferences and several miles of walking, John and I sat down to do a CES lunchbox unboxing, which is about as boring as you could imagine, but it’s what you do when you’ve been standing at conference after conference because there are no seats.

All in all it was an interesting trip. I walked away with a lot of things to play with that I’ll be reviewing later on. Of course, reviews take time, as I’m actually testing these things for usability, pocketability, etc., so bear with me.