Back in Vegas for CES – but will it be any good this year?

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It is great to be back here as I love both Vegas and CES, however the place is looking decidedly worse for wear. There are building sites all over the Strip and very few people working on them. There are also several closed hotels and casinos too.

The north end of the Strip, the bit near Circus Circus, was always a bit basic compared with the main drag, but now it looks grim. There are also rumours of more hotels and casinos closing and even the water from Lake Mead running out.

As for CES it is too early to say whether it will be busy. Last year was very badly attended because of the recession. This year there seems to be more optimism about the US economy and CE in general, but the goss is that the hotels are struggling to fill their rooms and the economy and the terrorist threat are keeping people away again.

CES is likely to be a huge industry jamboree with lots of deals done and products unveiled, but there is a sense that it may be past its late noughties peak and that the big stories are somewhere else. Everyone is talking about the Google Nexus One phone and the Apple iTablet/iSlate and not about what Sony has planned, whether Panasonic has cracked 3DTV and who will be first with a colour ereader.

The great thing about CES though is that is always delivers surprises. If you look through its recent history, the MP3 player, digital camera and many other major devices all debuted here and maybe we will see something of that magnitude this year.

For me much of the excitement will be away from the main halls where smaller far east based companies will be parading their often extremely innovative wares. There’s also a prominent British presence courtesy of the UKTI, so I’ll be checking on that as soon as I can.

The whole shows kicks off tonight with the CES Unveiled showcase, where a host of companies parade their hottest products. It is going to be fun.

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