We've just returned to our hotel room after CES Unveiled, a sneak peek intended to highlight the best of show. Tthe urge to be downbeat is strong: there wasn't a lot of spectacular stuff on display. Hard times call for austerity, folks. These things are frivolous luxuries, right? Right.
Highlights included a convertible tablet netbook from Asus, an ultra-realistic Guitar Hero game controller from Logitech, and a handset from Krone that converts English to sign language. Then there were many tables of nothing much memorable.
Xeni and Joel took up the slack, recording footage for Boing Boing Video. In a brief face-to-face interview, Joel convinced Consumer Electronics Association CEO Gary Shapiro to anoint him the Official King of CES. Shapiro smiled and extended his hand like a sword, gently dubbing him on the shoulder.
It seemed almost plaintive, but why shouldn't he play along? He was promoting the show, his life's work.
When we filtered out of the hotel, long rows of taxis waited to take us back to our pad: a rare convenience during CES week.
It'd be easy to write the same "recession-hit CES" story that you'll find elsewhere. It'd be easy to take gleeful pleasure in charting the show's decline. The fact that this would be so much fun, to writer and reader alike, is not a good thing.
We shouldn't enjoy it when the things we love aren't popular. And what the consumer electronics industry sells isn't very popular right now.
Gadget blogging's always been laden with snark; its the internet's motherlode of the stuff. It won't stop, either: it's our fluent language, a fair response to the subordination of innovation to business. But when tens of thousands of jobs will likely be lost in the coming months, what's the point in kicking the trade when it's down?
It's time to have a little hope, and to find things to be positive about.
A year ago, an expensive gizmo that does nothing more complicated than display a picture of someone's hands could easily have been mocked or ignored. This device, however, permits communication between a frustrated parent and a disabled child. It's the application of technology to solve a problem. Its value transcends its specifications.
It works, it's wonderful, and it's yours, for $200.
Just a luxury, right?