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CES 2009 Report

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Here again is my view on the 2009 CES show that I attended from January 8-11. My review isn’t like all of the glossy hyped reviews you might see online, I call it like I see it.

So let’s not kid anyone, with the economy being what it is, attendance by my estimation was down about 25%. Apparently the official number of CES was that attendance was down 9%, but with the hotels on the Strip showing occupancy being down 27%, let’s be realistic here. Hardest hit from what I saw was the car stereo section and the home theater areas. Exhibitor attendance was down, there were large vacant spots in the main halls that weren’t there before, and there were a number of manufacturers missing (i.e. Runco and Vidikron for example). IN previous years, one South hall at the convention center was solely dedicated to home theater displays. This year, the signs were changed to ‘Home Theater/Home’, and amongst the HT displays I saw floating massage chairs, complete with hand drawn signs. Ummm, ok!

While the car stereo hall was the same size, again, exhibitors were missing, but more importantly, the buyers were gone. Look at the empty space here, filled by attendees 2 years ago when I last went to CES:

But of course, it wasn’t all bad. The 52 oz $7.00 margarita refills were excellent on Fremont St! :)

So… to the various displays, in no particular order:

Home Theater/Displays

As usual, there was many displays of varying technologies including some new micro mini ‘video projectors’ I put these ‘projectors’ in quotations, as they really are simply toys more than anything else. The sales pitch was that these units (one under four ounces) could be connected to your MP3 video player or your cellphone, and video can be watched with friends wherever you go.

The units are driven by LEDs, so there’s no bulb to wear out, and the power consumption is low, but you get a whopping 10 lumens, so even in a pitch black room, the brightness is exceptionally low. An Optoma rep at their booth claimed that they would have a full LED projector by the end of this year. We’ll see. Here’s some of the pico projector offerings:

I asked Optoma about laser driven projectors, I was told the technology is dead in the water at this point.

Optoma was showing a number of new DLP projectors. I still can’t watch a single chip DLP without seeing rainbows. I didn’t see a lot of difference between this year’s models and the ones shown 2 years ago.

I also viewed the new Epson line, and frankly the demo room projector showing the latest Indiana Jones movie was way off on the red color reproduction. The image was detailed, but I didn’t like the reds at all.

The LED wall outside of the Mitsubishi booth was impressive:

Plasma/LED displays

There were some improvements with the various flat screen devices. First off, the small super flat LG units were impressive:

All the major manufacturers were there. Some were touting ‘high contrast’ displays, and indeed, some of these flat screens are now significantly blacker than previous generations. LED TVs were shown by a number of companies as well, from afar they looked nice. Fast refresh flat screens were also shown, and yes, rapid motion looked great on these displays.

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