- 5 Jan 08, 14:43 GMT
Why am I here? It is the kind of existential question you will find many a jet-lagged Las Vegas visitor asking at 5 a.m. but my inquiry relates to the Consumer Electronics show, rather than the blackjack table at my hotel’s casino. What can you show me? - is the even trickier question being asked by my editors back in London.
Worryingly, some seem to think they’ll be seeing the latest personal jet-pack or a robot-enabled home of the future. Instead, what we will find at CES is important, but incremental, changes to the way we live our digital lives. Thinner, smarter, better-looking televisions (oh, that we could say the same about your reporter). New ways of managing the flood of digital content now arriving in homes - from home servers to media extenders. New wireless technologies making it ever easier to take that content with you wherever you are – I’m filming some of that in a car in the next couple of hours.
This is my fifth visit to Las Vegas for a major trade show. I used to visit COMDEX but the IT show faded as the consumer electronics version flourished and it doesn’t get any easier to turn it into compelling pictures or audio. Seething masses of visitors climbing over packed stands look more like a bad day at the Oxford Street sales than a vision of the future.
But we have brought our own collection of gadgetry to help us tell the story. On my first trip to Comdex in 1999 I came with one producer who had just learnt to wield a handycam. We shot everything that moved, got back on a plane, and put a few pieces out in London later in the week - including one report on the huge threat Psion posed to Microsoft. Oh dear.
This time I’m accompanied by a very experienced producer and what we call a shoot-edit. As well as a camera, Steve Adrian has got laptop editing gear and the nous and nerve needed to edit and feed stories via an internet connection which may or may not be rock-steady.
I too have brought with me a somewhat random collection of gadgetry aimed at getting me on air and online. So I have just unpacked my laptop, two mobile phones - one to make calls, the other to do a little filming with its rather good video camera- a blackberry, a digital audio recorder, a digital picture frame, a second ultra mobile laptop and a device for measuring the energy output of electrical products. The last three items may sound like coals to Newcastle - exporting the latest gadgets to CES - but we are filming them over the weekend before the show opens.
So now all we have to prove is that we can use the gadgetry to make gadgets look and sound interesting on TV, radio and the web. Then we can get round to answering a few more existential questions.
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