Thursday, January 10, 2008

CES 2008 South Hall Hell

OK, today at CES 2008 we started out with the immense south hall, and then went on to the international hall, rather than the central hall. Why? Well, let me 'splain something to people who have never been to this place for a big show like CES.
Transportation is hell. Sure they have the CES buses, the monorail and taxis, but the lines for any of them at the times you need to get somewhere can be extremely long. So, you have to have a good strategy. For the buses - be early. like, really early. For the monorail the same applies along with the need to try to get on at the begin/end points when they are empty. Otherwise you ain't getting on. Packed they are, dude. So we went to the international hall (at the Hilton) and avoided the crowd at the main site. BAM! Home to your hotel or a place to eat in no time.

Another point for those who don't come is, while it looks cool and fun, it is a lot of work. Either you are there manning a booth, or you are there to wander the halls in the search for bright, shiny things to sell. If you are manning a booth, well, you have to go through the same spiel over and over, standing around all day and over caffinating to the point where you become a blabbering zombie. If you are browsing the halls, well, unless you are a marathon runner, your body is not used to walking this many miles in any week, or possibly year. In a side question, I just wonder why it is that it seems that only 1 out of 5 escalators in the city of Las Vegas actually work at any one time? And it's not enough that the hotels make you go through a maze to get to the monorail, but I really suspect some do not give you the shortest path to get there. OK, I digress. Sue me.

So, the South hall is big. Way too big. Inhumane. But awesome.

Obligatory Booth babe shot:

Monster had a huge both, as usual. We love Monster for being the first company to actually provide good cables you could pick up for your stereo or TV at a local non high end shop, we do think their cable department has let their marketing department get a "little" too much power, not to mention their legal department. (please don't sue!) I mean, they are still using the whole "flux tube" thingy? That is soooo 90's, dude. We do, however, like their power products. They look awesome. Not sure why they still have the red displays when the blue is just so much cooler looking, though.

Monster Power:

New Monster III units have voltage readouts:

Kimber Kable is a high end cable manufacturer that I respect (along with Straightwire and a few others). They give you measured specs - really good specs too, and they manufacture cables at a very high level of quality. They use cable geometries that actually have an effect on the specs, they don't just make up some new supposed problem to attack. An example - they have a new version of their 8TC (an old standard with excellent performance for the price) but the only difference is the colors on the teflon insulation. It's more WAF freindly. That, my friend, is good engineering vs marketing. I just wish they'd do a free "Select Series" drawing during CES. People would camp out.

New Kimber Kable 8TC and 4TC

Calrad had their usual fairly compact booth that was totally filled with great stuff,
Small sample:

Calrads XLobby Media Center and a whole lot more, HTPC on steroids at a price that pushes the some buttons in the Whole home A/V and control worlds.
We are a Calrad Distributer, so check with us for delivery and pricing.

Thermaltake is awesome. Not only do they keep coming out with a plethora of great htpc and big, desktop cases but they are doing great power supplies, drive cases and fans. Their Toughpower with Q-fan power supplies are not only very efficient (Green) but have extremely low noise levels, so these may be a good choice for your HD-HTPC. They go way up in wattage ratings like many gamer Power supplies as well.

Audioquest as always has a lot going on with their cables, and they are some very nice cables. We have a hard time buying into their whole "DBS" thing, as there are dielectrics available that we think are certainly good enough for the signals involved - call us "gomers" or skeptics", whichever you like. I doubt that NASA is using the science involved there, but then again, NASA probably doesn't have tube amps and such. In any case they also make really great connectors that are a bargain in the high end world. Now they have a new installer line of connectors and cable, their ITC line. Seems quite impressive from the demo we saw.

Zalman had some nice and as usual, quiet HTPC cases available, as well as their spectacular array of CPU and video card coolers. They also had 3d video software for games. It was cool, but not like their usual beautiful, quiet pc/mac cooling solutions.

There was a large HDMI booth with significant manufacturers. Some were very interesting. Others, were very much gestapo like in the questioning of your business practices and possibly your lifestyle. HDMI is a lovely one cable solution (despite the connector) but the CES proponents you have to try to talk to with questions and complaints are almost always angry, paranoid fascist types. Dudes?
But, hey the Gennum booth was super!

The international booths are always interesting, and we make sure to check them out and take a lot of pictures. There are secrets there, but we can't explain. At CES a lot of deals are made, a lot of partnerships are created. The best companies find the best partners. They go back and forth on design and specs until they are both happy and test demo units at each iteration. Manufacturing 101 . Hello?

And then there are those companies that distribute all the crap that doesn't sell, because it is funky, defective or nobody wants it, or because the manufacturer quit that business... And they sell it cheap... some people I know think it is an example of "dumping", an attempt to destroy the competition in the market, to take it over and rule the market, then raising prices.
I just think we are currently biased to price over quality throughout a larger scale of the consumer market than usual. Time will tell. I think it will change if the wider scale of the economy improves.

Well, there was a lot more we checked out, but time doesn't permit mention at this time.
We still have the central hall with a zillion LCD's and Plasmas to check out, and then some nice relaxing listening to do at the high end audio area at the Venetian, my personal desert for all of this blisterization on my feet. I also hope to hit T.H.E.Show - the other high end audio show going on here at the same time.

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