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CES comes but once a year

Crave is off to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic Show, the world's biggest and most extravagent exhibition of gadgets

Shortly after we've unwrapped our Christmas presents, and hopefully before we've broken them, Crave will be heading off to Las Vegas for the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show, or CES to its many friends. It's the world's largest annual tradeshow for consumer technology, with over 2,500 exhibitors showing off their stuff in over 150,000 square metres of exhibition space.

The first CES took place 40 years ago in New York. The 110 exhibitors included familiar names such as Hitachi, Motorola, Philips, Sharp, Sony and Toshiba, showing off their latest transistor radios, stereos and black-and-white TVs. Ah, those were the days. CES moved to Chicago in 1971, and a winter show was added in 1973. Five cold and shivering years later, the winter version moved to Las Vegas, took one look at the casinos and cabarets, and made itself at home (the summer CES bit the Midwestern dust in 1994).

A list of products that have debuted at CES reads like a Who's Who of home entertainment: videocassette recorder (VCR, 1970), laserdisc player (1974), camcorder (1981), compact disc player (1981), Mini Disc (1993), digital versatile disc (DVD, 1996), high-definition TV (1998), hard-disk video recorder (PVR, 1999), Microsoft Xbox (2001), plasma TV (2001) and Blu-ray disc (2003). While some have fallen by the wayside, others have romped into our living rooms and made themselves at home.

Today's CES is bigger, better and brighter than ever before -- but mostly bigger. The 150,000 square feet of exhibition space is the equivalent of 35 football fields and anyone hapless enough to walk the whole thing would cover 65 miles of carpet. Around 140,000 people will visit the show, a number spookily equal to the number of slot machines in Las Vegas' Clark County. In 2006 the attendees drank 100,000 cups of Starbucks coffee (the beverage consumption of the slot machines were not recorded). There's no official word on the number of people found gibbering in a corner with their hands over their eyes, refusing to look at another television, DVD player, home cinema system, computer, games console, camera, camcorder, MP3 player, mobile phone, GPS system, accessory, cable or unidentifiable widget of unknown function, but we bet there were a few.

Fortunately Crave is made of sterner stuff, so we'll be aiming to bring you coverage of everything, or at any rate of all the good stuff. Check out our preview stories at and come back on 8 January for our first stories and videos from the show. -ML