When the CTA announced that CES 2021 will be online only, the first emotion I felt was sadness. A virtual CES means no wandering through dazzling multimillion-dollar tech exhibits, no trying on exoskeletons, and no late-night mischief in Vegas. What a bummer!
But shortly after that initial reaction, a wave of relief washed over me. I realized that, in addition to missing out on a week full of cutting-edge tech demos, I also won’t have to endure all the awful stuff that comes with attending the world’s largest trade show. With that in mind, here are five reasons why a virtual CES will be far, far better than CES in the flesh:
You’d think that the world’s foremost technology expo would have blazing-fast internet access for you everywhere you go, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, what happens is that every individual exhibitor at the show sets up their own wireless router, which creates a ridiculous amount of RF interference and slows everybody’s connection down — including anyone using a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot. Functionally speaking, that generally means the only reliable internet you have on the show floor is your mobile data, which inevitably gets gobbled up immediately as you try to send all the images and videos you shoot at the show.
I can’t wait to be on my bottom-tier Xfinity broadband for the duration of this CES. It’s going to be so much better.
There are three kinds of photographers at CES: The professionals who use DSLRs, the amateurs who use their smartphones, and the heedless imbeciles who waltz around taking snapshots of everything with cameras on selfie sticks. As you can probably guess, the latter group is the absolute worst.
Now don’t get me wrong — I’ve got nothing against selfie sticks. But the people who use them at CES tend to be the pushiest, most inconsiderate humans you encounter at the show. When everyone else huddled around some freshly-unveiled piece of tech and politely trying to get photos, these mouth breathers will stroll up to the back of the herd and casually poke their sticks right up to the front — ruining everyone else’s shot in the process.
This year, there will be no selfie stick people to contend with, because there will be no people to contend with at all. And I’m 100% fine with that.
One year at CES, I walked nine miles between breakfast and lunch. NINE MILES. Why? Because due to the sheer size of the show, the layout of the show floor, and the erratic nature of the technology I tend to cover; the booths and demos I need to visit are practically never in the same exhibit hall. Most years, I spend the bulk of my time bouncing back and forth between buildings, half-sprinting between booth appointments, and hating myself for not wearing more comfortable shoes. Needless to say I’m not sad about the fact that I get to experience CES from a chair this year.
Imagine, for a second, what would happen if you invited millions of people (people who — let’s be honest– are mostly dudes) to a convention in Las Vegas. Before they arrive, you feed them a mixture of fast food, airline meals, and overpriced cocktails. Then, on the day the show starts, after all that garbage has had some time to percolate in their guts, you invite them all to the same convention hall and force everyone to share a half dozen shoebox-sized bathrooms with broken ventilation systems.
Can you smell it yet? That’s what happens at CES every year. As the day wears on, the bathrooms quickly accumulate a uniquely aggressive stench that’s unlike any other smell on earth. It literally stings your eyes as it wafts out of the bathroom. The stink is so thick you could cut it with a knife. When you do finally make it to the room itself, you try not to breathe it in because you’re afraid you’ll taste it and gag — but you do anyway, because if you don’t get enough oxygen, you’ll pass out and die on the floor of a CES bathroom. Nobody wants to go out like that.
Thankfully, virtual CES means I have my own private bathroom this year and don’t have to subject my lungs to a daily dose of caustic gas.
While I applaud the Las Vegas Convention Center’s ability to provide food for tens of thousands of attendees every single day of CES, the meals that they offer up in the press rooms are not something I look forward to. It’s the same brown-bag boringness every year: Some sort of unseasoned sandwich or wrap, original Lays potato chips, a bag of Famous Amos cookies, and a red delicious apple. It’s essentially the Hallmark movie of meals: Bland, predictable, and so meticulously unoffensive that it’s been stripped of any desirable qualities. You just consume it because it’s there and you don’t have any better options.
At least this year when I eat something terrible for lunch, it’ll be on my own terms, and out of my own fridge.
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