Best of CES 2018

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: January 12, 2018

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I had a fun three days in Vegas – mainly for meetings and the Women in Consumer Technology reception; but I also had a chance to look at several new technologies we’re interested in here at TIG. I won’t go into detail on those, as they really pertain to new streaming technologies and analytic software packages that will be part of our 2018 infrastructure upgrades. Instead, I’ll just comment on a few things that stood out for me personally.

Audio – Video

I picked up an extra hour and change in my day after one of the Keynotes I was planning to attend was changed at the last minute, so I had a chance to walk the hi-end audio/video suites at the Venetian. It was day 3 for me and I needed some ear candy!

Best Product. Comply. And yes, you will comply! Back story – I get on the plane heading to CES and I realize I’ve forgotten my MDR-V6 headphones and rummage my bag to find my Shure ear buds I keep for emergencies. As we’re taking off, I really can’t hear anything over the engine noise because ear bud headphones just suck – okay for taking a phone call, but not really good at hi-fidelity.

So I’m at the Venetian and I see the Comply Ear Bud Tip technology signage and go into their suite to check it out. What they have are little ear bud tips made out of memory foam and you swap out whatever came with your original ear bud headphones and plug into your phone or pad – OMG! Unbelievable! As in, you have to be kidding me! They gave me a set for my Shure earphones and when I got on the plane back to Denver, it was as if I was sitting in a concert hall. Even on takeoff. Stunning. I had a few people sitting close to me who saw my jaw hit the ground and wondered what I was babbling about take a listen and they all were stunned. And they all took down the name – complyfoam.com – in order to buy them for themselves. Ear candy you need to order today! (It’s the simple things in life that make the biggest impact – no?)

Best sound. EgglestonWorks had a tasty rig set up and were one of the few suites that was really just about listening to some great sound. Wide and deep soundstage. Articulate and emphatic. I only wish there was some way for us as an industry to convey the sheer pleasure it is to hear something this wonderful.

The Revel/Mark Levinson rig was also noteworthy. Business-wise, I didn’t think there was as much foot traffic as previous years. Maybe time to rethink how hi-end audio (the business of hi-end audio, that is to say) is conducted at CES.

Best Image. Wolf Cinema. Jim McGall and his peeps really know how to put up an incredible image. 4K in all of its glory. Spooky good.

Best prototype. David Solomon of Peachtree Audio fame showed me an incredible set of portable microphones that resemble your typical ear bud headphones. Instead of ear bud speakers, think of them as ear bud microphones. Plug them into your phone and run the cords over your ears and they just sit there on your temple, capturing a stereo/ambisonic/3D sound field. No one would even notice that you had them on. And, you would swear a professional engineering team made the recording. Anyone with a phone who wants to capture ‘live’ sound to match their video – it’s on the way. Can’t wait to get a demo pair so I can record shows at Boulder Theater.

People

There were so many new faces, as well as old friends to catch up with – here are a few highlights.

Best meets. Sally Washlow. Smart, vivacious and engaging – with a smile that just knocks you out. Andrew Vorster, an Innovation Catalyst who put on a great CryptoCurrency discussion on Wednesday. Smart, personable – we’re going to see if he’ll write for us. Gary Wong at Comply. Great kid – knowledgeable and sharp. Sami Al-Saadi at Sales and Marketing Inc, a rep firm in the Michigan region. Foodie, wine drinker, fun and smart. Jessy Crabb, GM of Metra, another smart woman in our business who is personable and a pleasure to chat up. And to all of the Legacy Award honorees and Megan Dutta, the Woman to Watch honoree – congrats one and all! Jeff Joseph, Senior VP of Communication at CTA – 10,000 watt smile and as nice of a gentleman as they come.

Worst meet. The obnoxious executive who thought mocking one of your co-worker’s ethnicity would be funny or make you seem powerful? It just made you look like an ass.

Best customer service. The crew at the Venetian, who saved our bacon on numerous occasions.

Worst customer service. Southwest Airlines. It wasn’t the total incompetency – it was the seven lies you told us. Never fly with you again. Ever.

Ad campaigns

Best campaign. Cleer. One image of a guy with a set of headphones on and one word – Cleer. You really can’t distill a product down any further than that. Of course, the proof will be in the pudding – I’ve requested a demo pair for evaluation! Congrats to Claude Schmidt, the mind behind the message.

Best disruptive campaign. Foreo. Dawn Watt, Global PR Manager, sent me the coolest invite I’ve ever gotten ahead of a show. It would take me some time to explain it all, but Foreo is disrupting the facial beauty mask industry with what I’ll call a ‘smart mask’ product. Available only on Kickstarter for now. The booth was a fortress and only those with insider knowledge (ie, the show invite I got from Dawn that was sitting on my kitchen counter because I’m an idiot and forgot it!) could figure out how to get in. I slipped in through the side door!

Douglas Weinstein

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the managing editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group. He is also the executive editor of the forthcoming Technology Designer Magazine, that debuts January 2019. Previously, he was the co-founder and Executive Director of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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