Lessons Learnt from CES 2008


Along with about 140,000 other geeks I attended the Consumer Electronics Show last week, it’s the biggest show of it’s kind and spans nearly 2 million square feet (we all had aching legs and blisters). It’s the second time I’ve done the show and this time I took along 3 other writers. Here are some of the lessons I learnt this year (some of which I should of learnt last year).

Plan Ahead
When there are over 2,700 companies exhibiting their wares and you only have 4 days to see them it makes a lot of sense to plan in advance which ones you want to see and make appointments. Fortunately my writers were a lot better organised than me.

Choose a Niche you Love
This one is especially true for bloggers, if you’re going to cover a show make sure you really enjoy your niche. Covering a show is bloody hard work. One of my friends and writers Marc, wrote up what was involved last year in his CES virgin post (and somehow I don’t reckon the word virgin and Vegas are not mentioned that many times in the same post).

You’re Representing Your Site/Company
When you are walking around with a name badge that also displays your site name, the impression that you give (and your other writers) reflects on your business. One thing I often do when travelling on the tube in London is give my day pass away when I’ve finished travelling, I don’t know the legality of this but hey if I’ve bought a day pass and don’t need it all day then I reckon somebody else should see the benefit. So what’s that got to do with this post, another show that I attended whilst in Vegas was the excellent Show Stoppers (thanks Steve), getting tickets for this can be tricky and there is always a scrabble of people trying to register on the night.

When leaving the show some guy approached me for my badge, to which I responded “Errr, No”, probably not the politest of responses but I think was the right one. Show Stoppers organiser Steve puts a lot of work into organising show and who can attend, so me just giving my ticket away would be ethically wrong. If I had given it away I’d of made somebody pretty happy, however they could then roam the show as me doing anything they pleased with the potential to give me and my business a very bad name.

You’ve also got to take responsibility for your staff and their actions. I’m a big fan of Gizmodo, and using TV-B-Gone clickers to turn off the odd monitor wall at the show was pretty funny, but switching off monitors during a presentation certainly doesn’t give the best of impressions, ouch!

Travel First Class for Free
Generally travelling in first class is something like 5 times as expensive as going economy, however with the help of air miles you can upgrade or even travel for free. As I’m looking at doing a lot of PPC and affiliate marketing this year I’ve just applied for a credit card that will earn me air miles on my PPC purchases, as I will be hitting this a fair amount I should have enough air miles for an upgrade next time, so touch wood this year was the last one in economy.

The coolest thing about the flight back was that I was sat next to Ashley, one of the founders of Shiny Media, he was full of cold (spent the last 2 days of the show in his hotel room) but it was still great chatting to somebody in the same line of business.

Let the People Using the Hardware Test it First
I bought Sam a mini Asus laptop to post with duting the show, unfortunately she was not a fan at all of the small keyboard, so to save 4 days of ear ache I had to indulge and buy a 2.6 HD Mac Book Pro (must admit I was looking for an excuse to buy one) and it is one cool machine, so I’m now something of an Apple convert.

Ideas in Different Environments
I had a fair few business ideas whilst at the show, I often find being in different places (and sleep patterns) gets the creative juices flowing. I ended up spending an afternoon in a press room registering 20 or something domains. I’ll speak more about this in a later post as it’s a bit too early to share details at the moment.

My normal posting should resume from now, thanks Scott for holding the fort on your own, and congratulations to Elaine, yourself and the two sprogs once again.

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.


  1. Thanks for the update, I was thinking about buying a Asus Eepc but now having second thoughts folloiwng your comments!

    Is the size of the keyboard a real issue?

    • I find it’s great for the portability and cheapness factor, so for sending emails and the odd post it is ideal and it probably gets easier the more used to the keyboard you get. However if you are doing a lot of typing it’s not the best option.

      My setup now is the Asus I’ll take anywhere whenever I travel, whilst the Mac Book will be used when I’m travelling and have a somewhat fixed base or I know I’ll need to be on the computer a lot.

      The other thing is the Mac Book was ten times the price of the Asus so I suppose the Asus is way way better value for the money.

  2. Thank for that

    The problem for me is that I working overseas just now Mon to Friday and the firewall stops you looking at most of the web (except SMM!)

    Fortunately the hotel I stay in has wifi but I was reluctant to lug my laptop backwards and forwards every week. So the Eee PC sounded a good compromise given its cheapness and light weight.

    Now to find some in stock!

  3. Where did you stay?

    Looking forward to hearing about your new ideas …

    • Last year we stayed at Imperial Palace which was a bit of a dive, this year we did Treasure Island which was very cool. Still lost about the same amount of money on both trips though.

  4. Al, I was expecting your post.I wish you succes with your business ideas.

  5. You didn’t tell us what the highlight of the actual show was for you! Any cool new gadgets and/or technologies you wish to share?

    • My highlite was getting a straight flush with my first hand at one of the tables 🙂 still lost overall mind.

      I did a post about the coolest gadget at CES and I reckon it’s going to be the gaming vest that punches you, crazy but cool.

      I’m also doing a $50 draw for comments on that post so if you leave a comment there today you’ll be in with a chance.

  6. I attended a press event last year and am glad I love what I do. Had I gone to a press event for something I hadn’t enjoyed then it would be seriously boring and hard work to write up about it.

    I like the Air Miles tip! I am going to look and see if any of my CC’s currently offer that and if not, I will apply for one that does.

    • I’ve gone for a Virgin card, it costs £115 per year but gives you 2 airmiles per £1 spent or 4 per £ spent at Virgin so I should rack up the points pretty quickly.

  7. I want to go that show in 2010 because I’ll have a gap year. So I might as well go. Where do I get tickets from?

    Also how did you plan what you will do?

    Did you manage to see everything?

    It was all over the news with all those companies releasing their products.

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