Hey all, as you may have guessed I have plans to attend the Consumer Electronics Showcase next week (CES 2016,) unless the Denver Airport is still a nightmare, then I’m probably skipping it. I thought I’d drop a post for those who are attending CES for the first time and wondering what life will be like.
First off, nearly all of CES can be accessed via two streets that intersect each other. The Las Vegas Strip (S Las Vegas Blvd), and the Convention Center which is off of E Desert Inn Road (seen here at the top). You can walk from the convention center to the south most event pace in about 38 minutes if you hop on a free train at Camelot and book it.
The walks are long, but if you’re in decent shape they’re pretty fun.
Pepcom & Showstoppers
These are two nighttime events you want to see if you’re into tech and gadgetry. If you’re into cars, TVs and high end speakers, these are probably a little less your thing, but you can find a list of exhibitors and see if you’re interested.
If it weren’t for Pepcom I almost always find something I’m interested in. They also throw a theme party every year, last year’s I believe was the Wizard of Oz. It’s always fun.
Showstoppers I’ve found I really enjoy the display and main floor but the speakers have consistently killed me (one was telling us that Bluetooth speakers were the future, two years after we’d been reporting on them, another sounded like it would be great (Eureka Park pitches,) and then we got a 20 minute lecture on angel investors.) Might have just been bad luck for me.
Showstoppers security tends to be in a bad mood, but that may just be the hotel or the fact that there are 4000 reporters in their face.
You have to preregister for these events generally. If you haven’t yet, check with them to see if you can get in.
The Las Vegas Convention Center
Nothing like it. They have everything. It’s too big to comprehend. I suggest making a map and keeping up with where you’re at. It’s nearly impossible to see it all in a day. Opens at 10 if I’m not mistaken… me and John got there at 9am once and waited and waited… it’s a sea of random tech vaguely sliced up into location categories.
Poop before you go there. There will be a line of people pooping. I only mention this because this is the only event I’ve ever seen with a line out the door to poop. It’s actually kind of disturbing. Please poop elsewhere.
Can I walk from the airport?
I’ve done it twice. There’s an exit on the second floor that will take you to where you can walk out and reach Paradise Road. You might want to ask someone. you can check with Google Maps and it got me to the right area.
One thing to note is that on Paradise road the sidewalk disappears for about a block and all you can do is walk in the street or walk in rocks. Not much of an issue unless you’re mobility impaired but worth mentioning it.
The backpacks, pay attention
At previous CES events at press check in (press day location,) you’ll get a backpack. In it will be some aspirin and a survival kit. Take note of the kit. You’ll need to know some things and this will help.
Las Vegas, as near as I can tell, is -30% humidity. It sucks it right out of you. Keep in mind you’re in the desert, regardless of what the place looks like. It’s absurdly dry.
Plan to drink several extra drinks of water a day, and take the aspirin before you go to bed or you will probably start snoring and wake up with a hangover, even if you didn’t drink. Your mileage may vary.
Take the vitamin C they give you.
Don’t plan on using anything Bluetooth and having it work. There’re more Bluetooth signals chattering by than the average device can handle. Don’t judge a bluetooth speaker too harshly if it doesn’t perform for you. Don’t expect WiFi to work well either.
Basically everything about CES is signal overload.
Look out above
CES 2015 had me walking onto the main floor and a vendor with a drone discovering that he was unable to control his drone at more than 10 feet due to the signal hell. I got hit in the face with a drone on the first aisle I walked down.
Just be aware, that’s a thing.
When it’s not fun
Do something else. If you’re a reporter and you’re burned out, go elsewhere, do something else. Sit and watch the clouds. Grab a drink. Don’t get angrier and angrier because there are 2000 people trying to pass you. Too many people seem to reach breaking point at these events.
I’ve taken three in three years. All of them messed up. The first cab I got was $21, took me a very long route, I handed her $40 and asked for change and she left. $19 tip on a jacked up ride that should have been $8.
Last year John and I caught a cab to go to Mandalay Bay as we were exhausted around the Mirage, they went north to the Convention Center. When we discovered we were going the wrong way we were already $10 in. This one we caught and got the right fare, but meh.
Not sure if it’s just bad luck or they routinely rip off people, but watch your Google Maps.
At the hotels
If you’ve never been to a Las Vegas hotel, you might have trouble understanding that the average hotel there is like a few city blocks in depth and width, and goes multiple floors. Some of them go underground, have tunnels, etc.
Whatever event you’re going to will not be something where you walk in the door and bam you’re there. The average event I’ve been to involves seven minutes of walking through a casino, then you go through a shopping and eating area, then a floor or elevation change, a long hallway, turn, another long hallway, and then a sign that says where the badge pickup location is.
Give yourself 15 extra minutes from door to event.
Buying that amazing gadget
You can’t do it. Don’t try.
Bomb threats, security, weapons, backpacks
Due to worldwide events, CES 2016 has backpack and luggage restrictions. Realize that your luggage is not going with you and that your backpack may not be allowed. Read up on that before you show up and have to walk your backpack back to the hotel.
Dehydration is a problem
I really want to stress that even if you’re not thirsty and hanging out inside, drink some water. I’ve never had the level of dehydration-related issues that I’ve had anywhere else. Chapped lips, snoring, nose bleeds, etc.
Oh you broke your reporter’s liver?
Most night events have an open bar. Know your limits, or at least know when you’re going to stop talking to exhibitors. It’s all good fun until you’re asking about a speaker and suddenly decide to return all your drinks (wasn’t me).
Also the exhibitors are there to exhibit, not entertain Drunky McDrunklestein.
I’ve also run into other bloggers I’ve wanted to talk to for a while and they were too shithammered to even…
Dress for what you’re doing
If you’re walking 15 miles that day, nice walking shoes. If you’re on TV, reporter type clothing. I’ve watched too many people collapse in a business suit to count.
If you’re going to collapse, do it over there
About four hours into main stage you’ll find where people collapse and give up all hope. Hit there before you’re at that level. Grab some water too. That’s partially why they’re crashed. You’ll hear the same story of unexpectedly exhausted. You’ll generally find a drink stand selling very large mountain dews there. Skip that and drink the water.
Drink your water and vitamin C.
Make a schedule, but make it right
Don’t expect your internet connection to work. I mean, there’s a good chance it will, but I’ve been in places where it’s dead. This is why I make sure all my calendar events have enough information to get me into the event.
In some cases this is a confirmation QR code, others may be an email pasted into the event description.
Above all, make sure all your events are in the correct time zone (PST). Otherwise when you schedule a 5pm event while you’re in New York it’ll show as a 2pm event in Las Vegas when you land.
If you’re with other people, make sure to set up a shared calendar where everyone can update it.
Take samples, but take sparingly
Choose what you take wisely. Make sure they’re giving out samples before following a crowd and grabbing one yourself. Seriously, I don’t care if you see two people take something you make sure that you’re allowed. They may have been authorized earlier, they may be stealing.
I only mention this because I watched a near stampede at one of the nighttime events for product that probably wasn’t going to be sampled out that day.
Can you eat and drink free?
Yup. It’s entirely possible for a meat eater to eat and drink for free on an event’s tab. If you’re a veggie, not so much. You have side dish options.
Being an old veggie I generally grab something before an event and then eat a couple of cookies or something at the events, although don’t cry for me, I make it up in gin.
Can I stop and write about X amazing invention?
If you want. Keep in mind you’re burning daylight. Big groups like CNET send in 20+ people to produce content. If you stop you’re going to get a story up but maybe miss something that was better right after it.
You’ll find many places where you and a keyboard can park and usually get an internet signal of reasonable speed and connectivity.
I’ve always been more interested in seeing everything and spitting out the best later. Your mileage may vary.
I got the wrong badge!
I’ve checked in two years in a row and got the wrong badge. Some events are media only, and if your badge doesn’t say that you might be SOL. You can generally trade for the right badge at the CES press rooms at Mandalay Bay.
Alternately you can also just say “they gave me the wrong badge,” if someone is checking. Your mileage may also vary on this.
Did I mention drink water?
I may have been invited to one once, I don’t know. From what I can tell the people who go to them don’t show up again for another day. My guess is they wake up in a bathtub filled with ice and a note that says to call 911 right now as their kidneys have been removed.
That’s about it. Have fun. I’ll be wandering the events listed above assuming I make it, and the baby tech and Eureka Park exhibits if I can still walk. Feel free to look for me or hit me up on Google Hangouts.
At the moment I look like an old worn-out potato, which is evidently what six months of not exercising or sleeping will do to you.