Each year, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas is an opportunity for a select group of tech nerds to see into the future of gadgets. It also gets a lot of them out of the winter doldrums and into the nice warm desert for a few days. Except thanks to this year's polar vortex, a number of East Coast journalists are missing out on the fun and are instead grounded at iced-over airports. And they are not pleased — even if their absence shows that it might not really matter if they make it there at all.
CNET journalist Nicole Cozma says she is trapped in Tampa:
Someone help me. Southwest failed to check their plane that sat at the terminal for two hours. Stuck in Tampa. Likely missing CES. Fml— Nicole Cozma (@c0z) January 6, 2014
Others also reported being stuck in the East as winter tightens its grip:
@MYGEEKTIME So true! Half our NYC team is stuck with delayed/cancelled flights for CES. I got lucky, no problems so far on Virgin.— Dan Ackerman (@danackerman) January 4, 2014
Those who are heading towards — or are already at — the event are also tweeting their "good" fortune, presumably to the annoyance of everyone who can't make it. Especially those who are humblebragging about the stress of it all:
Headed for CES for the gajillionth time. Yes, this is my life. pic.twitter.com/HVmF7REK0e— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) January 6, 2014
CES week. We were completely dead in the poker room last year during CES. I hope that doesn't happen again this year.— Kristi Smith (@AlaskaGal1) January 6, 2014
And then there are some who, perhaps bitterly, say what we all secretly think is true:
It’s pretty easy to cover CES even if you’re not at CES.— Steve Kovach (@stevekovach) January 6, 2014
Each year, CES promises to preview the huge innovations that will reinvent the tech world. Which it does, sort of, although the practical applications of each years top hits are usually negligible. The Washington Post reported immediately after the event:
This was definitely a CES that focused on the quieter trends — like technology’s growing ability to measure fitness and health data. Even something as gimmicky as the Hapilabs smart fork, which vibrates when it senses that you’re eating too fast, shows how technology can can get people to pay more attention to their health.
Have you heard of the Hapilabs smart fork? Neither have we.
The Post continues:
The trends around personal computers at the show were notable because they reflect the growing importance of the mobile workplace. Almost all of the available or soon-to-be available PCs at the show were convertibles, meaning that they can flip from laptop or desktop to tablet in short order.
Convertible desktops are another trend that completely failed to materialize. CES started in 1967 and was fairly important for some time. According to Gizmodo, however, the last time CES was really relevant was in 2009:
The Palm Pre and Web OS made huge waves at CES 2009; Microsoft's Xbox, unveiled in 2001 was another biggie. But truly important announcements don't really happen at CES anymore. What used to be a rare opportunity to get the entire industry in one place to disseminate information has been made somewhat outdated by the instant communication the Internet affords. Major companies — notably Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, and Amazon — opt instead for standalone events for their major announcements that themselves draw hundreds of attendees.
Gizmodo notes that CES is organized by a consumer electronics lobbying organization, and so the week-long Vegas event is more about business deals and less about newsy announcements. That explains why CES is more about showmanship, and the possibilities of technological innovations, than practical advances in technology. And it's why the event has been called "the biggest tech party of the year," and why in 2012 "booth babes" were showing off gadgets.
Still, CES is a cool showcase and we're interested in what will happen there this year. So far, we've been told to expect a rejection of 3D television sets, wearable technology and smart cars. We're looking forward to experiencing the pizzaz — from afar.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.