CES 2012: Here we go, here we go, here we go now.

I awoke at 1:30 AM. My flight was at 7:20 AM. The airport is 20 minutes away. You'd think going back to sleep was still a viable option. Evidently, my brain had other ideas. I still had all the gadgets on chargers and a bit of packing to do, and that was enough to get my head going. I spent a leisurely morning checking email; making breakfast; perusing the headphone forums; cleaning the kitchen; and finishing packing. I was at Bozeman's airport (BZN) by ten to six.

CES2012_intro_photo_NewBZNThe airport was quite the adventure. They had been building a new wing and I haven't flown since it opened up. You wouldn't think an airport with ten gates would be disorienting, but my-oh-my, everything had changed. The good news was the coffee bar and magazine shop were much improved.

I had prepared my gear carefully for this show, and have a well organized backpack filled with the personal audio gadgets and reporting sensors needed to be an effective journalist at this gluttonous electroganza. I spent quite a bit of time optimizing my backpack full of headphones, sources, amps, DACs, cameras, and computing devices before leaving home, but it wasn't until I saw it slowly get sucked into the x-ray machine that it dawned on me: I'm never going to get that pack through security again without a hand search. Oh well, I just relaxed and let the numbing process of 21st century travel envelope me.

(Sorry, no pix. I did ask the TSA matron if I could take a picture of all my gear being unpacked neatly by the rubber gloved agent into gray bins for rescan --- all in the name of good journalism, of course. I quickly realized it was rather like farting in church, and shut-up and got out of there as meekly as I possibly could.)

You know the drill: I got to the gate; put everything I didn't need at my seat in the backpack; and grabbed my book, iPad, portable rig, and earphones. Every thing that could be, was zipped into my jacket pockets. I checked my boarding zone, and prepared to enter the aluminum sky tube. I'm long past fretting about it. My escape pod this time was: the Shure SE530 in-ear headphones, my iPhone 3, and the very sexy HeadAmp Pico Slim. Reading material was "The Lamb." Sweet music and a thoroughly entertaining book. I will have my zone.

The next 6 hours started with sun rise above the Wind River Range --- beauty in purple and orange --- and was followed gradually by a hippity-hop alphabet soup of connections: BZN>DEN>PHX>LAS. I arrived in Sin City at 1:37PM local time feeling fair to middling in a comfy traveler's buzz.

The taxi line was at least an hour long. I checked the shuttle ... $7.50 got me a seat to Harrah's, but was luck-of-the-draw how many people would board and what the order of stops would be. The driver was cool. I sat right behind him. As he buckled his belt, I asked how many stops to Harrah's. Drum roll please ... it would be the first stop. Halle-friggen-lujah! I was in my room long before I would have made it through that cab line.

I had pre-registered but still needed to get my badge holder. The line was very long at the airport, so I elected to get settled into my room at Harrah's and then walk next door to the Venetian to pick it up. "Next door" in Vegas can be quite a way ....


I can't tell you how much I dislike Vegas. Fortunately, Stephen Mejias expressed the sentiment far better than I could in his Stereophile CES 2012 introductory post. I simply couldn't agree with him more. Thirty-seven acres of purple plastic gadgets and suits trying to sell you on something feels like being in the belly of the American consuming beast.

CES2012_intro_photo_hustlerWorse yet, CES is wrapped in Vegas itself. Harrah's and the Venetian are literally next door to each other, yet it was at least a kilometer walk from my room to the press badge holder pick-up. The walk was an assault on the senses. Fortunately, I've seen it plenty before. I have no problem completely ignoring the hawkers on the sidewalk flicking little cards of buxom women in front me.

I waited in a "badge holder" line for about 20 minutes before being told press badge holders were elsewhere. One floor down the press registration area was away from the hustle bustle --- cool, dark, and devoid of lines. I guess they want reporters to have a nice experience registering. Fine with me.

Press pass in hand, I walked back to my room to begin typing ... and charging my gadgets.

Tomorrow, I'll be on the hunt for new headphones, headphones for my "Wall of Fame," and some good sounding computer speakers. It feels pretty good to have a mission to tell you the truth.

Time to turn the plug strip off and hit the hay.


johnjen's picture

So does CES have an app to help guide you? I mean it should, shouldn't it?


Tyll Hertsens's picture
Indeed there is an app for that. But first, I did all my searching on the "MyCES" website where you can search for exhibitors, keywords, and categories. You save exhibitors as you go. Then you hook up to the free wi-fi with your iPad, and scroll through the map as you walk the floor. Be even cooler if you could get a GPS signal in there. I actually printed out the maps on paper as it's a little easier to handle, but I left one of them at a booth, so I switched over to the iPad to navigate. I gotta admit, it was cool.
dalethorn's picture

That's pretty funny, but it's probably also true.

michael held's picture

Please drop by the Philips booth and check out our new Philips Fidelio L1 headphone. I would love to hear/read what you think about it as I enjoy your reviews a lot!

ZombieFish's picture

Great book, hope you enjoyed it.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
This'll be the third time I've read it.
ryebread's picture

Not the most portable, portable rig I've seen! Glad to see someone takes their job seriously. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to get through airport security in NYC with that bag of electronics as a carry on. Have fun and take a lot of photos for us.

the_schu's picture

Are those hard full size headphone cases on the right of the gear picture? If so, would full size Beyers fit?

dalethorn's picture

The DT-1350 fits into a much smaller flatter case than those Vmoda cases, which is a big plus if tossing into an airline bag.

Full size Beyers like the 770 won't fit the M80 case, but the larger Vmoda case might work, don't know.