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What is CES? The Skinny on the Consumer Electronics Show

by Sage Lane | January 6, 2012January 6, 2012 3:00 pm PDT

It’s about that time of year again, the time of year when little technophiles the world over dream of new gadgets, and electronics companies trek from places far away to descend upon the desert to display their latest wares. Yes, it’s time again for CES, but what is it, exactly?

What, Where and Who

The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is an annual electronics trade show that takes place in Las Vegas, Nevada in early January. This year CES 2012 will take place between January 10-13. The event is sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), and acts as a stage at large for the electronics industry. It’s the place where exhibitors, members of the press, bloggers, analysts, and attendees come together to experience, cover, and criticize the latest in tech.

Although the spirit of the event has remained consistent over the years, certain particulars have changed. When the first event was held in 1967, it was not in Las Vegas as it is today, but rather in New York City. Eventually, it became a semi-annual event, with a Summer Consumer Electronics Show (SCES) taking place in Chicago, and a Winter Consumer Electronics Show (WCES) taking place in January in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, there was not enough interest to keep both shows running, and in 1998, due to the waning popularity of the SCES, the two shows were consolidated into the one January CES as we know it today.

Another aspect of the show that has changed is the scope. The first event had a comparatively small 17,500 in attendance. As time has moved forward and electronics have taken a more prominent role in consumers lives, that number has soared to a projected 149,529 attendees for this year’s CES. That number is a testament not just to the importance that technology has on a daily or cultural level, but the impact that CES has as a show itself.

Why

CES isn’t just a place to demonstrate the latest tech, but to unveil it. The event has been host to the debut of a plethora of essential technology. This (abridged) list of products that debuted at CES from the official CES website is a veritable chronograph marking the advances in the industry’s history:

  • Videocassette Recorder (VCR), 1970
  • Camcorder, 1981
  • Compact Disc Player, 1981
  • Digital Versatile Disk (DVD), 1996
  • High Definition Television (HDTV), 1998
  • Microsoft Xbox, 2001
  • Plasma TV, 2001
  • Home Media Server, 2002
  • HD Radio, 2003
  • Blu-Ray DVD, 2003
  • HD Radio, 2004
  • IP TV, 2005
  • OLED TV, 2008
  • 3D HDTV, 2009
  • Tablets, Netbooks and Android Devices, 2010
  • Connected TV, Android Honeycomb, Motorola Atrix, Microsoft Kinect, 2011

But perhaps the best part about CES are the company keynote presentations. CES provides companies with aPalm Pre Touchstone dock grand stage on which to unveil their products, and many have taken advantage of the opportunity to reveal their next halo product. Two such examples are Microsoft and Palm, which used CES in 2001 and 2009 respectively as a stage to unveil the Microsoft XBOX and the Palm Pre. Such keynote presentations are invaluable because of the broad coverage a hot product can immediately garner due to the high density of journalists and bloggers. The Palm Keynote in 2009 certainly kindled excitement, and although it’s true that the Pre and WebOS failed to live up to the excitement, it’s important to recognize the interest that Palm was able to generate with it’s Keynote as CES.

CES is usually a great show, and sometimes the best electronics trade show of the year. Whether it be wall-spanning hi-definition televisions, super-sleek handsets or futuristic headgear, you can bet that the showfloor at CES will have you covered. What are you most looking forward to at CES this year?

Be sure to follow all of TechnoBuffalo’s CES 2012 coverage!


Sage Lane

Sage is a wandering vagabond currently based out of Seoul. When he's not busy scouring the web for the latest tech news and gossip, he does his best...

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