FiringSquad at CES 2008!
By all accounts, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is by far the biggest such event in North America. It brings in over 140,000 people over four official days (and two days of pre-exhibit floor events) and takes over the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, the Sands Convention Center and the Las Vegas Hilton Convention Center, as well as lots of parties and events all over town. (Two mini-shows, Digital Experience and ShowStoppers, are also held during CES at Vegas hotels but they are not a part of the official event). Huge names in consumer electronics and entertainment show up to thrill attendees with keynote speeches, and major product launched are revealed.
Yet despite this massive show and attention, gaming and PC hardware makers have a somewhat odd relationship with CES. Except for Microsoft and Sony, who have other reasons to be there, publishers generally shun the show (Nintendo, arguably the hottest game publisher thanks to sales of the Wii and DS, doesn't even bother to show up at CES). PC hardware makers typically don't make huge product announcements during the event. An exception this year was Intel which launched or announced a whopping 16 new processors for desktops, laptops, and servers on the first day of the show this week. AMD didn't have much to announce this year, and NVIDIA decided to just have a meeting room instead of a full exhibit.
As a result, gaming and hardware, while still a part of CES, are pretty much regulated to the very back of this massive show as companies like Sony, Toshiba, Sharp, Panasonic, Phillips, LG and many more have massive exhibits, mostly about big HD LCD and plasma screens and, well, more massive HD LCD and plasma screens. Panasonic showed off a huge 150 inch plasma screes at their CES booth which made those 103 inch screens that debuted at last year's CES seem tiny. The big talk of the show was about something that was of at least some interest to gamers; the fate of the HD-DVD movie disk format after Warner Bros. went to the Blu-Ray camp just before the start of CES. There was no big HD-DVD press conference and the group's booth was decidedly quiet while the neighboring Blu-Ray booth had a fancy exhibit with a Pirates theme.
So what was at CES that was of interest to gamers and hardware junkies? If you spent a couple of days at the show, as I did this week, you can still find some stuff to write about.