Ten Tips for the CES Noob

The massive Consumer Electronics Show is in Las Vegas next week. It will be my 12th. Twelve is a pretty good number (a dozen, if you will), but compared to most, I know this is paltry. Brent’s first CES was in 1886, when Westinghouse unveiled their steam-powered discombobulation defenestrator. I believe they also announced a tablet.

CES is rather overwhelming for the first-timer, so I offer these sage words of advice to help you navigate the miles of lightly carpeted floors, brightly lit booths, and slightly malodorous humanity.

1) Don’t go

I know, I know, with CES just a few days away, everyone who’s going is going. File this under the same bit of helpfulness of a person saying “be careful” right before you do something stupid: it’s more about them then you. 

CES is a grueling, exhausting, draining, arduous, onerous, event, and I’m not even being redundant or using unnecessary repetition in expressing an idea. While CES sounds cool (hundreds of new electronic gadgets and prototypes), once you get boots on the ground it becomes an unnavigable mess. It’s like bad seats at a football game: You’re pretty sure  something cool is going on somewhere, but you can’t see it and you’re always moments away from getting barfed on.

2) Plan on one building per day, two minimum for the Venetian

Covering an area roughly the size of the Solar System (the convention center buildings are TARDIS-like in their ability to be bigger on the inside), you will be walking a lot. South Hall is enormous, and two floors. Central Hall is manageable, but the far off land of North Hall has. . . actually, I have no idea. One does not simply walk into Mordor North Hall. I’m told there’s stuff there too but I’ve never seen it. Then there’s the Venetian, a typically Vegas jumbo hotel with floors and floors of the coolest audio gear you’ve ever imagined. 

The best advice you’ll ever get regarding the Venetian: start your day on the TOP floor, and take the stairs down as you go. The elevators are an impossible mess during the day, and you’ll waste more time waiting for an elevator than actually seeing the show.

3) Plan small

You will see 10% of what you want to see. Plan accordingly, and know that of your new adjusted, smaller list, you’ll see 5% of that. 

4) No, you’re not going to walk there

Vegas is SIGNIFICANTLY larger than it looks on a map. “Just two hotels away” could be well over a mile. The monorail is expensive, but it’s better than waiting in a cab line for over an hour (common). 

5) Don’t eat at noon

Over 80 billion people go to CES every year, and they all want to eat at the same time. Avoid the lines and hassle: eat breakfast at 3:30AM, lunch at 8, and dinner at midnight. I regularly disregard this advice.

6) Slap-slap. Slap-slap. Slap-slap.

Don’t take the fliers. You’ll see what I mean.

7) 93.7% less porn!

Usually, the annual porn convention overlaps the last few days of CES. The symbiotic relationship between the porn industry and the CE industry is less interesting then you’d imagine (hope?).

This year, however, it’s a full week later. So if you were hoping to check out what your favorite (?) porn stars actually look like, you’re out of luck this trip.

I’ll give you this spoiler instead: in real life they rarely look human (more human-adjacent). Their entourages and hangers-on, though, make the cast of Jersey Shore look chaste and delicate. They, way more than their stars, are disturbingly gross.

8) Eat. A lot.

There is some fantastic food in Vegas. Seriously. After NY and LA, I’d say Vegas has some of the best food in the country. Famous and/or successful chefs open their second restaurants in Vegas. Celebrity chefs, some of whom don’t suck, open branches of their chains there. Walk into any of the expensive hotels, and you’ll find incredible food selections. I’m sure I’m the first to say this, but going to Vegas for the food is a perfectly valid reason, and a far better way to spend money than gambling. And to be fair, you will have to spend it. There’s no good cheap food in Vegas, that much is true (though there is an In-N-Out Burger).

9) Wash your damn hands

What the hell is wrong with you? Wash your damn hands after you use the toilet. What were you, raised by wolves? At least 50% of the guys leaving the men’s bathroom DON’T WASH THEIR HANDS. I am not joking or exaggerating. Seriously. It’s vile, disgusting, and nauseating, not least because in every damn booth everyone wants to shake your hand. Vomit.

10) Wear comfortable shoes. 

You’ll thank me.

See you there, or you can come back to these very webpages and see all our coverage next week.