CES A Little Long In The (Blue) Tooth - InformationWeek

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1/6/2009
12:23 AM
Fritz Nelson
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CES A Little Long In The (Blue) Tooth

On the eve of CES in 2008 I was so giddy an oblong ear bud might have made me moist. This year, you can ... well, you can shove 'em in your ear. The pompadoured David Caruso (CSI: Miami) and his handlers picked TechWeb to talk to last year (I don't remember what he said, but he did that look -- you know, where he looks like he's looking at the ground, but he's looking at you at the same time, all dramatic like); now my in-box for meeting requests is practically crickets chirping. Not even

On the eve of CES in 2008 I was so giddy an oblong ear bud might have made me moist. This year, you can ... well, you can shove 'em in your ear. The pompadoured David Caruso (CSI: Miami) and his handlers picked TechWeb to talk to last year (I don't remember what he said, but he did that look -- you know, where he looks like he's looking at the ground, but he's looking at you at the same time, all dramatic like); now my in-box for meeting requests is practically crickets chirping. Not even Cisco seems to care if I come visit or not. Ever get the feeling that everyone just wants to muddle through and get it over with?There's no mystery to this. Buying is down, travel budgets are down, people are being cautious. Fine. But that doesn't have to stifle innovation. As I look through the announcements and the CES previews, I've come to some conclusions.

First, HD ... thinner, bigger, smaller, better. We get it. What's really interesting is how services and manufacturers are blurring the lines between entertainment, Internet, and the devices. We'll see that with an LG television that includes Internet connectivity so you can download Netflix movies instantly.

Second, mobile phones. Stop me if you've heard this before: "Just like the iPhone, only ... " Only it's not. Wall Street Journal/All Things D diva Kara Swisher captured it well. When Palm is perhaps the biggest mobile phone story to come out of CES, it's time to find a Hold 'Em tournament.

Third, when you have nothing to say, get interesting people to say it. Haier America (come on! stackable dryers) is employing Clyde Drexler, Robert Parish, and Bill Walton not one, not two, but three straight days. I guess Charles Barkley was otherwise engaged. What am I supposed to ask these guys -- which HDTV goes best in their seventh bathroom?

Last year, Run or DMC (or are they one person?) signed photos all day and told us they'd just discovered texting helped them keep in touch with their kids, which was kind of sweet. This year we get Soulja Boy (not just Soulja Boy, mind you, but "Soulja Boy Tell'Em" -- is that really his name?) talking about the role of YouTube in launching his career. I hope I get to talk to him, because I want to ask him what some of Crank That's lyrics mean, especially: "Haterz get mad cuz/'I got me some bathing apes.'" Let's be honest, "Soulja Boy off in this hoe" and "Superman Dat Hoe," are heavier than any shiny ultralight laptop we'll see in Sin City.

Look, I want to be excited again. I want to consider blinging out my ear with the latest Bluetooth headset (can they make one that fits those massive holes people are crafting in their lobes? because then I might just do that). I want to care about a GPS that tracks my lost dog. I want to wear a 3G Watch Phone Something, just so I can speak into it on the New York subway and freak out the winos. I want to walk through a maze of Korean and Chinese companies selling iPhone condoms and mousepads. I want the master universal ultimate remote. I want Blu-ray sliced as thin as clove of garlic by an Iron Chef. I want Gizmodo and Engadget to swipe each other's mascots and have a fistfight during the Microsoft keynote. Something. Anything to hope for.

(Here's some of our video coverage from 2008. If you can't make CES this year and there's something you're dying to see, let us know and we'll try to capture some video of it.)

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