Sunday, February 13, 2011

Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show 2011

Note:  These pictures are from January 6-7, 2011.

I nearly had the discipline to report the Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show in a high concept fashion.  The aim was to boil the two days down to exactly two day-long panoramas.  I would go through each day very selectively adding to the panorama, creating a collage of that day.

I did it.  I made the two panoramas.  But it has now been a month since that trip, and looking at the non-panorama pictures, known by most people as pictures, I am giving into the low concept idea of making this Waste post like the rest.  i.e. Normal.

And with that... welcome to the annual Treck To Vegas for CES Waste Post.

The road to Vegas is unlike most, because for the last two hours of it you see the clouds in the distance lighted up by what is certainly the densest concentration of outdoor electric lights on planet Earth.  No joke.  My friend Michael noticed them first.  We were still more than two hours from Vegas and he claimed that maybe the lights we saw reflected in the clouds were Barstow.  After passing through Barstow, he thought that they might be Baker.  I maintained throughout the drive that they had to be Vegas.  That photons could in fact travel over 120 miles to our eyes.  (Undetectable by a mere iPhone camera, of course.  No lighted clouds for the Waste.)  Eventually the Vegas theory reigned victorious.

What makes this stay in Vegas unlike every other trip to Vegas I have ever made is that we will be staying in Michael's new Las Vegas home.  I am fortunate to have a friend who not only loves electronic gadgetry enough to attend CES two years in a row, but who loves Vegas and is married to a woman who loves Vegas to the extent that the two of them bought a second home there.  Yes, instead of staying in a hotel on the Strip, we will be staying in a luxurious home that smells not of booze, tobacco and desperation.
The entry to Michael's development in Red Rock.  One thing I know is that everyone who drives to Vegas bothers to discuss route and time.  We opted for 101 to 135 to 210 to 15.  And we were lucky; we left around 5 PM and made it efficiently through every community in Los Angeles and beyond that threatened to slow us with traffic, arriving in the Las Vegas neighborhood of Red Rock by 10:30 PM, including a stop at the Barstow Tommy's for dinner.  (Those who have never driven to Vegas would see that as a wasted sentence, though on here it is a Wasted sentence.)  But those who drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas know full well that all who traverse that desert must always report their departure and arrival times, sometimes with average speed, number of stops and speeding tickets collected.

And let me tell you this: driving to Las Vegas and arriving at a home, not a hotel, is wonderful.  Simply wonderful.  And looking at the home prices in Vegas today, perhaps everyone should pick up a second Nevada address.
The morning view from Michael's balcony in panorama.
A family room and kitchen panorama in the morning.  This is the view I saw when arriving the night before, and thought, "Sweet Lord it's nice to arrive at a house and not a hotel."

The most loyal Waste readers will recall that Michael and I attended CES last year with my friend Aaron.  Aaron could not make it this year, but the key piece of data there is that we went last year.  Last year we woke up early in the hotel and busted over to the convention center early, none of us having attended a CES for fifteen to twenty years.  This year, Michael and I decided to sleep in and and go the show when we felt like it.  It was like traveling with Barbie.  i.e. Wonderful.
The Vegas sky on the way to the convention center.
There are lousy jobs and there are lousy jobs, but there are no lousy jobs like Vegas lousy jobs.  Walking around dressed like that and wearing a sign?  I feel for this man.  (Also, please replace the word "lousy" with the word "suck" in the earlier sentence to know my true sentiment.)

Here it is, the CES Day One Panorama.  We spent the whole day at The Venetian, where the high end audio companies that still exist are spread among several floors of hotel suites.  Obviously, you have to right-click-open-in-new-window-and-zoom-in, because if you do, you will see:
Venetian Hotel lobby, crazy orange horn speaker, sci-fi bulb hanging speakers, the BBQ subwoofer, bored salesmen in a suite, an insane turntable, the view outside, hose-thick speaker wire, your classic high-end audio suite, the $250k stereo, and $75k speakers.

There.  That Pano can literally be zoomed in on so that everything can be seen clearly.  Odds are it is too much.  Perhaps in the future I shall try letting an algorithm create a collage for me instead of doing things the hard way.
How could I not take this shot?  And I must add that when one looks at a sculpture like this, the first reaction is not that it is hyper-realistic.  But then you compare it to the real thing and you realize that the artist got every single detail correct to the extent that you imagine this could be from a cast.  For the record, the sculpture is at least five times larger than my hand.

Here it is, the CES Day Two Panorama.  This is the day that we spent at the convention center, drowning in TV's and iPad rivals.  Obviously, you have to right-click-open-in-new-window-and-zoom-in, because if you do, you will see:
The bus ride to the convention center, the entry way, an unfortunate woman in a blue wig, Microsoft, Dolby, a wall of TV's, people touching touchscreens, 3D TV's that nobody cares about, bored staffers, planet Samsung, Samsung TV's with their tiny bezels, Asian businessmen taking pictures of Samsung's 75-inch TV, the pretty woman who could change channels by waving her hand in the air just right, the madness of the floor, people gathered to see a famous DJ that they had never heard of before, the bus waiting to take us back to the car.
In case you wondered what a $250,000 stereo looked like, this is what a $250,000 stereo looks like.  (The tree is not included in that price.)  It sounded... well... amazing.  If there was an acoustic Jazz quartet in one room and this stereo in another playing a perfectly recorded performance by that Jazz quartet, and I blindfolded you and walked you from room to room, you sincerely would not be able to tell which room was live and which Memorex.

But I have no idea how wealthy I would need to be to spend $250,000 on a stereo.  I can imagine eating at Jack-in-the-Box with Bill Gates and hearing him say, "Yeah, we picked up the $250,000 stereo to celebrate immunizing our one-millionth Third World child.  It sounds great, but, you know, we don't have that much time to listen to it."

And with that, we ended our CES adventure early.  We decided that instead of facing potential Sunday traffic, we would blow off a third day of gadgets in favor of driving back to Los Angeles on the empty roads of Saturday evening.
Michael's second home is THERE.

I have to repeat that it was an absolute joy to not stay in a hotel.
Time to say good-bye to Vegas, even though the doggie in front of the house does not want us to go.

No shot of the highway on the way home.  I knew that the ceramic doggy would be the final pic for this trip.  But I must tell you that the delights of the Baker Arby's were such that I should have photographed that meal.

Until next time...