My first CES: A swift kick to the head

My first CES was a swift kick to the head
By Jarrett Bellini | @JarrettBellini | January 9, 2015

Las Vegas --
You know that feeling you get when you’ve been kicked in the head by a kangaroo?

I don’t. But I’m pretty sure it feels like four days at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Except, when you’ve been kicked in the head by a kangaroo, at least you have a pretty good story. 

One in which you were kicked in the head by a kangaroo.

Here at CES, I have no story. Just a Ziplock bag full of business cards and what appears to be the beginnings of a cold because, “Hey, everybody. We’re in Las Vegas. Let’s go to public places and SMOKE ALL THE CIGARETTES!”

On a positive note, I did win a dollar playing slots. The dollar I started with. So, you know, I’ve got that going for me.

Really, it’s a small victory keeping me from jumping head first off the Stratosphere.

“This wearable says I’m rapidly descending.”

Yes, I was warned by old pros to fear CES. To respect its mighty power and wear comfortable shoes. But, warnings aside, and despite all the truly amazing technology right there in front of you, as a journalist you just can't prepare for that kangaroo-kick-to-the-head. 

Especially your first time. 

So, as a CES newbie, with fresh, scared little eyes, let me share a few things I’ve noticed about the convention itself. Other than the fact that it’s slowly sucking my will to live.

Human pack mule: Go to CES they said. It will be fun they said.


There’s really no way to explain how many people are here for this. I mean, other than sharing an official number provided by CES. But that would require making a phone call.

Research. Meh.

Just trust me that it’s a lot. And when you’re a solo video producer, lugging your own gear through a mass of humanity, the number of people you accidentally whack with a tripod is astounding. To all of you, I sincerely apologize. I’m just one little man with limited coordination.

Which is why I’m a journalist and not a professional athlete.

Plus I’m a ginger. That probably has something to do with it.


They’re everywhere. Professional models. Some just standing next to signs, others gyrating in front of Bluetooth headphones.

Which isn’t necessarily bad, save for the constant, demoralizing reminder that men are simple, stupid humans, easily attracted to exposed skin and things that gyrate.

So, yeah. Lot's of smiling pretty people. 

Because when you absolutely, positively must draw attention to that new Kickstarter gizmo you designed for two years in your basement – that Bluetooth temperature suppository for your dog's butt – there’s pretty people.

For everything else, there’s …


They’re just trying to do their job. But, mercy, how they suddenly sneak up on anyone with a video camera who looks lost or confused, or just simply alive and breathing and with the capacity to blog.

"Hi there, have you had a chance to check out Pet Rectum Pro?"


"It's for your pet's rectum! Want to meet the inventor?"


These are the PR wranglers you see.

The PR wranglers you don’t see on the floor are presumably tucked away in a secret lair, hopped up on caffeine, flooding everyone's email with long-winded, desperate pitches, crafted to sound personal and just for you!

"Hey, Jarrett. Hope you're having a great day! Did you hear that Pet Rectum Pro is at CES this year?"

My phone constantly dings with pitches. And my favorites are when they tell me that -- hurrah! -- such-and-such “technology expert” is available for interviews.

You know, if he has time. Because he’s very busy. And very expert-y. 

But maybe just for you.

To be fair, I'm sure some of these industry insiders do know what they're talking about and are possibly worth interviewing. But the others wait in Starbucks. 

And wait. And wait. And wait.


After a while, everything starts to look the same, for it’s a never-ending collection of Bluetooth speakers, headphones, drones, and things that are “smart.” And each one claims to have the best sound or the best connectivity or the best ability to tell you what time it is.

“This device beams a hologram of the exact hour and minute onto a nearby mountain so you can read it from up to eighteen miles away!”

“It’s two-thirty.”

I’ve had multiple conversations with people who expressed the same thing – that sometimes it’s difficult to identify really cool, standout products because, after a while, they all sort of blend together. The designs. The promises. 

You just don’t know where to look next.

Of course, many companies are aware that "The Great Blur" is real. So they do anything they can to stand out.

And, apparently, the only solution … is pretty people.

1 comment:

Lee said...

funny, Jared!