the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

CES: Day One


The sun rose over the Las Vegas Strip and the official first day of the giant Consumer Electronics Show.   I came here to Las Vegas for one simple reason — to report back to you, my loyal readers, everything I can about all the latest high-tech gadgets in televisions, monitors, wireless, computers, audio devices, and mobile phones.  A convention this big requires more than one person to cover it.  That’s why this year, I brought along Gadget Girl herself, Sophia.

After our delicious "breakfast buffet" at the Palms Hotel, it was time to head out to the "big event."  I had read that it was impossible to park at or near the Convention Center, so we decided to park at the Bellagio and take the "CES Shuttle Bus."

After a half hour of trying to find parking at the Bellagio and walking through the enormous casino, we finally made it to the CES shuttle bus stop.  It was 10:35 A.M.  We were promptly told that the shuttle bus stopped running at 10:30 A..M. 

But it was no big problem.  The Bellagio valet told us that we could take the Las Vegas monorail right across the street at Bally’s.

Simple enough.  We walked across the street to Bally’s. 

Have you ever driven to the Grand Canyon?   At a certain point, you pass a sign reading "Now entering Grand Canyon Park."  In reality, you still have to drive an hour and a half until you can see anything.

Keep that in mind as we entered Bally’s.  There was a sign pointing to the monorail.   We then walked for twenty minutes through the casino, up two flights of stairs, up and down three flights of escalators, past the restaurant, the pool, and the spa — until we got to the monorail, which cost us five bucks each to be crammed in with hundreds of other CES geeks for a three minute ride.

At last we made it to the Holy Land.  The Convention Center.  CES.  Oh, wait, not yet.  First, we had to wait in line for forty five minutes for "registration" and to pick up our name tags.

We entered CES, completely exhausted and cranky.  The show is enormous, taking up 28 football fields, and that is not counting three other huge venues.

Now we had to figure out what to look at.   The next version of Windows?  The new Sony HD camera?  The XM Radio display?   Sophia and I sat on the floor to look through the 700 pound CES directory.

Suddenly, Sophia found something exciting.  MOXI was at CES!

"Who the hell is MOXI?" I asked.

"They make the DVR box for my Adelphia Cable company."


"They have the worst interface ever.  If you press the button to see what movies are playing, it only shows you the moves that are playing RIGHT NOW, even if the movie started forty-five minutes ago, but not the movie that’s going to be on in five minutes.  It was developed by a complete idiot."

"So, what do you want to do… tell them that?"

"Exactly.  How often do you get to talk to the developers of a product you hate?  Maybe they’ll listen."

So, off we went, to the South Hall of the Convention Center, past Motorola and Microsoft and Samsung and two football fields of space, trying to find MOXI.  After twenty minutes of walking, we were hopelessly lost.  We asked some woman carrying a cool orange cloth tote bag if she knew anything about MOXI.  She never heard of them.

"Did you get that nice tote bag here at CES?"  I asked the woman.

"Yes, over at some high-def company over there.  All the other tote bags are cheap plastic.  But this one is really nice."

"It really is," I replied, admiring the bag. 

"If you want one, you better go fast because they’re running out!"

Sophia wanted to continue looking for MOXI.  I  thought we should first get the tote bag before they run out.

"What do you need that tote bag for?" she wondered, slightly annoyed.

"Did you see how cool it looked?   It would be nice two put these huge books into something.  Come on, let’s do that first, and then we’ll find MOXI."

So, off we went, wandering around like the Israelites in the desert, looking for the orange tote bag company.  Fifteen minutes later, we realized that we had mistakenly walked into the North Hall.  We were lost.

"Why don’t you ask someone for directions?" Sophia asked, like a typical woman.

"Directions to what?  The company with the cool orange bags?"


"I’m not going to look like an idiot asking for that."

"You’re the one who wanted it!  Just ask someone."

 "I think the company on the bag was Abracadabra Media."

"It wasn’t Abracadabra."

"It was something like that."


Some self-assured man, about 35, wearing a blue suit approached.  He looked like someone who was knowledgeble.  I took a quick look at this name tag.   It read that he represented the William Morris Agency. I couldn’t move my tongue as he passed by.

"Sophia, you see that guy?  He works for the William Morris Agency.  What is he doing here?"

"Maybe he works for their tech department."

"Maybe he’s a literary agent."

"Go talk to him."

"And say what?"

"Tell him you’re looking for a job.  Tell him to go read Citizen of the Month.."

"Forget it.  Let’s find the orange Abracadabra bags."

"Are you stupid?  This is more important that a tote bag!  This is a perfect opportunity to do some networking?  If you’re not going to talk to him I will."

"OK, OK, I will… "

"Which one is he again?"

"He’s wearing a blue suit."

We looked over towards the X-Box display area and there were at least forty men wearing blue suits.  It was like a Hitchcock movie where we needed to find the killer with a black umbrella among thousands of people with black umbrellas.

For the next twenty minutes, we weaved in and out of various-aged computer geeks trying out new X-Box games, vainly searching for the William Morris agent in the blue suit.  We never found him.

"I’m tired." said Sophia.

We had hardly seen any gadgets at all.

"What about MOXI?"

"Forget it.  You still want your orange bag?"

"Not really."

"Let’s go back to the Belllagio and play the slot machines."

"You read my mind."

We pushed our way through the crowd and made it out of the convention center.  We saw a sign that the CES Shuttle Buses are running now.   We sighed in excitement.  And then we noticed that there were at least 500 people waiting to get on the bus.

An hour and a half later we fiinally made it  back to the Belllagio.

Day 1, CES:  That’s my report. 


  1. Spirit Of Owl

    On the bright side, at least you didn’t lose each other in the throng! And on another extremely bright, indeed glitzy side, you’re in LAS VEGAS! Excellent! Fear and loathing! Yay! No I won’t use another exclamation mark! Damn!

    (Hope you have better luck tomorrow. !)

  2. Alissa

    At least you got a great buffet breakfast! Better luck on day 2!

  3. mirty

    Just remember: Trade shows are all about the tote bags! And the free pens!

  4. ekramer

    at least you can say, been there,seen it

  5. oishkapipik

    That does not sound fun at all! I hate crowds. I grew up in a place where the nearest neighbor was a mile away. I would die in a place that crowded!

  6. Laura

    I say blow it off, spend the day doing sinful and decadent things, and make up a post about finding a time machine or a teleporter at the CES. No one will know any better.

  7. M.A.

    Dear Neil,

    I think that you should spend some more time pursuing the man from the William Morris talent agency. Both you and Sophia could benefit from his representation. (Unless of course she already has an agent.)

    Your friend,

  8. Trix

    See, that’s why I refuse to go to any other trade show but the Restaurant Show here in Chicago. They give away free booze. Screw the tote bags…I said booze!

  9. Leesa

    Sounds awful to me. I would have been at the hotel bar waiting for you.

  10. cruisin-mom

    Neil and Sophia..skip CES altogether and get over to the Adult Film convention…think how good it could be for your marriage (or separation, or whatever you two are)

  11. Hope

    So did you win anything at the slot machines? It’s totally against my nature to walk past a pool, a spa, and a restaurant in order to get to an electronics convention. It’s a cardinal sin. I don’t even own an iPod.

  12. Nancy

    Sounds worse than Disney Land! keep at it!

  13. Student Nurse

    An entire sea of GEEKY TECH GUYS and I am not there? That is the true sin!

    Dang, I knew I planned my Vegas trip for the wrong weekend in January. I have lived right next door to Nevada (in CA) all my life and I am still a Vegas virgin. A crime I know.

    and *psstt* you have to remember the key to traveling is to visit with the hotel Concierge for all the tips and hints to getting around during a crowded time.

  14. 3rdtimesacharm( 3T )

    Damn! I would have hunted until I found the orange tote bag! 😉 Did you score any free pins???


  15. Tim

    so, how did the slots treat you?

  16. Danny

    Yikes, that photo of the convention floor looks like the train platform at Auschwitz. Oh, the humanity!

    Conventions are ALL about the freebies, I would have gotten blisters on my feet looking for that damn tote bag that would have ended up in my closet. Since I’m never going to own a better television, I wanna hear about all the gigantic flat-screen, digital, high-def TVs. Report, please!

    I could not love Sophia more for wanting to hunt down that manufacturer just to tell them how their interface sucks. If you’re ever stranded on a desert island, you better make damn sure that Sophia is with you or you’ll be dead in a matter of hours!

    Give us a gambling report, please, and also how about a glitzy show review? Are Steve and Eydie at the Desert Inn? You could always report on the horror that is Celine Dion’s extravaganza.

  17. sara lee

    There are porn stars there and you haven’t checked them out yet? Are you ignoring the other part of you that also likes to post on this blog?

  18. Melissa

    Were there no available taxis? I’m guessing you could have gotten one cheaper than 10 bucks y’all spent on the train and *swoosh* door to door service.

    Day 1 is always about registering, getting the catalog and then roaming to get the feel of it. The night of Day 1 you go over your catalog of exhibits, choose the ones you want and then mark them on the map.

    Days 2 and 3 you just follow your marked map and also peak at the really interesting kiosks. The nights of Days 2 and 3 are for dinner, gambling, shows, dancing, sex, shopping, the spa, seeing all the casinos on the strip, in any order. (Repeat the really satisfying ones several times.)

  19. better safe than sorry

    i’m obsessed with finding my red coach tote, i hear you on this one, gotta have the right bag, it’s a given.

  20. Neil

    Danny — I think last year was the year of big screen TVs. This year, the iPod has inspired everyone to go small. Doing everything on your phone is popular now, including watching TV. It’s sort of odd that just as everything gets bigger, everyone is also fascinated by making thing smaller. But do you really want to sit there and watch TV on your phone?

    Sara — I do have other interests other than talking to little Neilochka. Not many, but porn stars — bleh! Not very interesting.

    Melissa — Thanks for the advice. It is so crowded here that I thought the cab ride would have taken forty minutes to go fifteen blocks. But today went much smoother, now that we figured out where everything is.

    And yes, we found the orange tote bag today!

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