• Technically speaking, this has nothing to do with CES. It's just Vegas. I was surprised to see slot machines literally the moment I stepped off the connecting bridge from my plane, though. [credit: Jim Salter ]

To the surprise and delight of the more experienced Ars staff, I volunteered to attend CES—the Consumer Electronics Show, held annually in Las Vegas—this year. The delight, as it turns out, is because if I hadn't volunteered, one of them might have been voluntold. I didn't let the schadenfreude get me down, though; attending CES has been a bucket-list item for me for more than 20 years. I'm not a huge fan of crowds, but the promise of "weird electronic stuff" and sights not offered to the general public had me mesmerized.
One of the things any CES veteran will tell you is that it's impossible to actually see all of CES. They're not kidding—it would be an overstatement to claim that CES takes over the entirety of Las Vegas, but it wouldn't be an egregious one. Parts of CES take place at the Venetian hotel/casino/indoor mall, the attached and similarly gargantuan Palazzo, and the Las Vegas Convention Center. Any one of those locations dwarfs any other convention center I've seen, but even all of them together aren't enough to entirely contain CES—which also has offshoots in other area hotels, convention centers, and just about anywhere else you can cram a few hundred people.

  • As far as I could tell, The Dell Experience was largely a way to get drinks funneled into reporters—but I never went in, so who knows. [credit: Jim Salter ]

I hardly left the Venetian on my first day at CES. The show wasn't technically open at all yet—it was an extremely limited "media preview" with a few high-impact press conferences from the likes of AMD and Intel, and not much else. To the great fury of our most dedicated AMD fans, I ended up covering Intel's press release a day before AMD's—because AMD mistakenly invited me to the location of their future party room, not their actual press conference, which was several miles across town.

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