Three reasons why CES is a waste of time

Although some people think the Consumer Electronics Show is great, Don Reisinger offers a reality check and tells you why it's not everything you think it is.

For those of you who have made it to CES at least once in your life, you probably know all about the amount walking and waiting in line and shoving that goes in to any good trip to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show.

For those of you who haven't been lucky enough to enjoy the horror that is CES, allow me to fill you in on why it's an utter waste of time. Is it a nice networking opportunity? Sure. But beyond that, the world of CES is marked by pure crap.

Here's why.

Reason 1: Most of the products are garbage

Don't believe me? Let me help you work it out. With thousands of exhibitors from companies that enjoy billions of dollars in revenue and others that don't make a dime, we're lucky to come out of CES with a handful of products that are truly great.

Now, is that to say that there aren't any interesting products that you find yourself saying, "wow, that's pretty cool" to? Not necessarily. But when it comes right down to it, how many of those products will make it into the mainstream and how many are actually worth using when it's all said and done?

How many times can I walk past a company's booth while they try to sell me on another iPod dock or yet another accessory? Sadly, it seems to get worse with each step.

Reason 2: Evolutionary -- not revolutionary

Over the entire history of CES, very few have closed with a truly revolutionary product hitting the wire that people actually care about. And to make matters worse, 2008 looks like it's just more of the same.

While I was walking through one hall of the monstrous show floor, I walked through booths that purported to offer the "next great" plasma or "the world's best" iPod dock. Are you kidding me? Sure, your company may be able to do something special with either one of these categories, but where's the innovation? Why can't I find the stand out product that makes me go "wow"?

Let me ask you something: if most companies are offering more of the same, how can consumers find it within themselves to do jump on a no-name company's bandwagon? If you ask me, it just solidifies the fact that major companies will continue to stay on top because no one is willing (or is it able?) to venture out into a new category. Frankly, it's sad.

Reason 3: I can get better work done at home

Let me guess -- if you're someone who has never gone to CES, but you watch the coverage each year, you wish you could go to see all the products that are coming out this year? Let me fill you in on something -- it's not that spectacular.

The truth is that CES is nothing more than an over-sized bundle of annoyances if you're actively trying to find one product to see how it works. In fact, I could actually learn more about the products and the companies by reading CES coverage online than wasting my time being there.

And before you tell me how wonderful it must be, did you know that CES is spread across Las Vegas, which means you'll need to walk quite a bit? Did you know that you'll be battling almost 200,000 people just to get where you want to go? Did you know that Las Vegas is brutally expensive? And perhaps most glaring, did you know that you'll need to sift your way through PR crap just to figure out if a product is worthwhile or not? Trust me, it's not as glamorous as you think.

Do I dislike CES? Yes. And whether you want to believe it or not, practically everything related to the show, save for the occasional fun party, is something that I could easily live without.

Personally? I'd like to see this show chewed up and spit out in much smaller pieces.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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