Saturday, January 5, 2008

Las Vegas Electronics

Bright Lights, Big City

One of the huge advantages of living in Las Vegas is that it all comes to you. Las Vegans don't have to go to either coast to see the biggest stars entertain, or to see Broadway productions such as Mama Mia, or to witness a college football bowl game or the National Rodeo Finals, or enjoy the benefits of tourism dollars pumped into the economy to ease the tax burden on locals. But one of my favorite reasons for living in Las Vegas is the number of conventions that meet here. And where better? Groups as obtuse as the Association of Owners of Funeral Homes or as mainstream as Consumer Electronics Show all come to town for their conventions.

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority keep space costs to a minimum in an effort to draw as many conventions as often as possible. Additionally, Las Vegas passed Chicago and Orlando in room count and now has more hotel rooms than anywhere else. In fact, 14 of the largest 15 hotels in the world are in Las Vegas. The granddaddy of all conventions in the pre-TSC days (pre-Tech Stock Collapse) was COMDEX which grew to some 300,000 visitors per year. These days the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is the largest with more than 140,000 attendees.

CES convention attendees are beginning to straggle into town this weekend as the show begins Sunday. The big draws once again will be the new gadgets and the old Gates - Bill Gates, one of the many stars to appear in Las Vegas who traditionally opens the show. For the tenth consecutive year Microsoft Man will reveal cutting edge products and discuss the future of electronics. The CEO of General Motors will also speak. Vendors at the show will unveil their i-pod lookalikes, i-phone lookalikes, and i anything and everything else. Past shows have introduced many of the products that are taken for granted today such as GPS, HDTV, plasmas, CDs, as well as anything digital or lithium-powered.

So what's new this year? Flying cars? Maybe not but you can bet your bottom i-phone that alternative fuel-powered automobiles will be featured along with any other new item that addresses one's sense of sound or vision. The difference between CES and other conventions is that by the very nature of electronics, not only do the masses come to the mountain, but the Mountain (in this case Mount Las Vegas) is beamed to the masses. CES features Las Vegas in every medium in far greater numbers than does any other convention.

So what's a fella (or gal) to see in this cavalcade of electronics? Not much. Just about 1.8 million the highest definition television screens surrounded by stereophonic sound, TV cameras and at least one reporter for every square foot of space all trying to get a different slant. Tens of thousands of new items will grace the floors spread over at least three convention center venues, hundreds of semis toting items to and from the show and thousands of workers with hundreds of boom lifts, delivery vehicles and electric carts to do the setup and takedown one week later.

The very thought of the magnitude of this event makes me dizzy. A little blogging music Maestro... How about Blood, Sweat, and Tears "Spinning Wheel?'

Dr. Forgot

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