Thursday, January 12, 2012

CES: Day 3

Today was my day at CES. I mean that literally. I was in heaven. Kevin and I headed over early, roughly 7:30, hoping to avoid the crowds, and we did. No line at Starbucks, no line at the Monorail, no line at the breakfast bar. We picked up the daily newspapers, ate breakfast, and headed into the arena only to find that the doors were locked shut. No entry before 9:00 a.m. Oops. At 8:30, the doors opened, but when we tried to enter, we were turned back by guards. Doors open at 9:00, we were told. I guess what they meant, since the doors were indeed open, was that the general public was not welcome before 9:00.

Wandering around outside, I noted that Ford Motor Company had several cars and one pickup on display. I love photographing cars, so I took advantage of the lack of crowd to get as many shots as I could. I also got a shot of the new Dish Network mascot, Hopper the Kangaroo. (I have no idea why Dish Network is now using a kangaroo, so don't ask me.)

When 9:00 a.m. rolled around, we were part of the initial surge that gathered at the Intel booth. Yesterday I wrote about the ultrabooks so prevalent at the show, and today I got to see and hold them up close and personal. They are indeed sleek, thinner than you can imagine, but I'm not ready to trade in my laptop just yet.

Once past Intel, I found the Sigma booth. When I first bought my Nikon D80, I got a Sigma lens to go with it. Over the next few years, I bought a few more Sigma lenses. Today, most of my photography is done with a Nikkor lens specially built for my camera, but my kit bag includes five Sigma lenses, so I was very interested to see what the company had on display. Now I don't claim to be a size queen, but my god is that thing massive or what?

Twenty-eight point six inches long, nine point three inches in diameter, this puppy weighs in at 34 1/2 pounds--and that doesn't count the weight of the camera. Officially its a 200 - 500 mm lens, but it has a built in 2x multiplier making it effectively a 400-1000 mm lens. I have to say it's the largest camera accessory I saw all day. At a suggested retail price of $32,000, I don't think I'll be buying one anytime soon.

While drooling at some of the beautiful photography on display in the booth, I struck up a conversation with Paul Thacker. Paul is a professional photographer based in Portland, Oregon. He uses Sigma equipment exclusively now, and has a gorgeous portfolio, much of which is available for your enjoyment on his website,

Of course I had to hit the Nikon booth. I probably could have spent the rest of the day here, but other booths beckoned. At the Nikon booth, I asked what the most logical new camera would be were I to upgrade today. My D80 is five years old, going strong, but Nikon keeps bring out new and better models, so eventually I will have to move on up. A very helpful man, whose card I have misplaced, suggested that I consider a D7000. And I think I'll have to look into that model.

But I have to admit that once he suggested the D7000, we started talking Saab automobiles. He's on his eighth, I'm on my third, and both of us want to keep buying the strange vehicles from Sweden. If you know of anyone who has the wherewithall to buy the company, please convince them to do so.

There were lots of other booths and items that caught my eye---and my lens, including a Barbie booth (what does she have to do with consumer electronics?), a Sponge Bob Square Pants flash drive, an 88-key electronic piano, a Chinese-made television that was about 1/2 inch thick with a vivid display, more 3D televisions than anyone needs (and a 3D monitor for a Sony Vaio computer), and an Eggg. No, I spelled it that way on purpose. The item in question is actually called a Tamaggo, and is an egg-shaped camera that can take a true 360 degree image. Tamago, with one "g," is the Japanese word for "egg," so the Canadian company that makes the Tamaggo added an extra "g" to name their device. I got to talk with the company's CEO and learned some of the challenges he's faced in developing this nifty little tool. Due out in the second quarter of 2012, and available at Best Buy, the 14 megapixel camera will cost less than $200. This is something I'll buy.

Yesterday, everything we saw seemed to focus on wireless technology. Today, at the Ion booth, I saw something truly wireless. Ion, best known to me at least for slide scanners and turntables that transfer your vinyl records to mp3 files, has come up with a guitar for studnets wanting to learn how to play the instrument. I watched as one of the company men played several riffs on a guitar that had no strings whatsoever. On the fretboard there are contact points that light up to show you where to place your fingers to make any specific chord you want. In place of strumming, your right hand moves over a visual display of strings, and what comes out sounds remarkably like a six-string guitar. I was impressed, and when I showed it to Kevin, he decided he had to have one as he's always wanted to learn how to play the guitar. Never mind the fact that we have two real guitars at home already.

Look Ma, No Strings

For my Canon friends (and relatives), I did go through the Canon booth, but I didn't stop as I have no desire to buy a Canon camera. I've used Canon printers in the past, but I've very happy with my Epson and will probably stay with that brand. Canon did have a major presence at the show, needless to say.

After lunch, I caught the shuttle to the Venetian where I visited the PMA@CES show. PMA. formerly known as the Photo Marketing Association, is holding their annual conference in conjunction with the CES, but most of their presence is at the Venetian Hotel/Casino. You wouldn't believe all the photo related products on display at this part of the show, and I couldn't begin to tell about them. What I do know is that I'm going back there tomorrow, with Kevin in tow, as he's the guy who can smooze. I did talk to a couple of folk, bought myself a French-made camera harness to replace the Nikon strap that has been killing my back this week, and met a fascinating fellow from Calgary with whom I hope to go into business soon. More on that tomorrow. Today, as I said at the beginning, was my day. Kevin called me asking where I was as he had returned to our hotel room at least an hour before I made my way out of the Venetian and back to Harrah's.


High Anglican Hiker said...

Glad you've been able to enjoy Vegas at least some of the time. My favorite visit to the home of noise and overcrowding was on a NON-STOP night flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Reno. Fly West from Dallas until Las Vegas then turn right. As the plane banks you get an excellent view of Las Vegas five miles down -- as close as I'd care to get. Better from my point of view to read your blog than to be there!

erock said...

Hello sir, sounds like you had a blast at CES! I can tell you, the "Hopper" from DISH is a new Brand model designed to show DISH's desire to "hop" from room to room, basically. The new Hopper is a Whole Home DVR setup, with the Hopper being the main receiver, and mini client-servers called Joeys connecting other rooms to the main box. This is going to be a great product! The Hopper will let you record up to 6 live HD programs at one time, and the Joey-connected TVs will all have access to the main DVR playlist. This, in collusion with the 2TB hard drive, will allow for many more stored recordings and an overall elimination of scheduling conflicts. No more arguments over who gets the DVR, which old recording gets deleted to make room for a new one. I work for DISH, got to try it out last week, and this is going to be a very cool product. It's even adding web-integrated apps like Pandora, Sirius, MSNBC and more. Hope I didn't talk your ear off, hope you got home safely, and you should definitely check out the specs on the Hopper!