In the days leading up to CES, I can’t count the number of people who wished me luck and said, under their breath, “Man, I wish I were going. I’m jealous.”

To be honest, it really was like a geek’s fantasy land. Car accessories, cool appliances packing processors and OSes, crazy-thin HDTVs (not to mention 3D TVs, which had one Mr. Noah Kravitz riveted) and — of course — mobile devices and accessories. And much much more.


A CES Newbie in Wonderland

It wasn’t just the variety of categories and the cool factor of next-generation consumer technologies, but it was also the sheer size of the show. I mean, even as a CES newbie, I knew the show was big. Like everyone else, I’ve been watching all the reports on TV or the internet for years. So I was ready for “big.” But crazy, enormous, huge, multiple convention center–occupyingly massive? Not so much. At one point, I was tempted to knock one dude off his Segway, just so I could give my swollen feet a rest and pilfer a ride from one end of the show to the other. (If anyone’s ever been to Comic Con in New York, let me just say that this is at least four times the size of that, probably more.)

There were pre-show announcements and post-show parties, and in between we got a peek at lots of interesting stuff. First off, eReaders are the new black. Seems like everyone and their Hong Kong factory-running grandmas are coming out with them at different price points. And at one point, I was hypnotized by a robotic mop and duster called Mint, which was capable of swiffering your hardwoods from corner to corner automatically. I hate cleaning, so this one really piqued my interest. (Either that, or I just like Jetsons-inspired gadgets.)


The Phones, Good Grief!, the Phones
And of course, there were phones. In fact, the show was like Androidopolis up in there. Is the Backflip an innovative new form factor or a pointless gimmick? (Depends on taste. For me, the latter.) Is Sony Ericsson’s Snapdragon-packing Xperia X10 as cool on the outside as it is on the inside? (Form factor’s nice. They just need to work out the bugs.) What about LG’s new Android phone, the GT540? (Cute-looking phone, but Android’s not quite so sexy on it.) The Nexus One, of course, made a cameo there, as the media huddled around the sleek new handset, oohing and aahing at the live wallpapers.

WebOS fans got some juice at CES as well. Palm and Pixi on Verizon alone is a big deal, but the fact that they’ll both be capable of acting as mobile hotspots for connecting laptops to the web? Sweet! To think, just the news of Pixi getting Wifi and the Pre getting a better keyboard were enough to excite me, but this? That’s like taking a perfectly cooked Filet Mignon and throwing some extra awesome sauce on it.

If anyone ever doubted that this is the year of the touchscreens, a walk through the Las Vegas Convention Center last week would’ve silenced them for good. It seemed like everything had one. Even the little messaging feature phone called the LG Lotus Elite got an external touchscreen.

There were also plenty of handsets that aren’t available in the U.S. — like the LG Chocolate BL40, with its huge 4-inch HD widescreen display — which actually felt a little cruel. Why show us stuff we can’t have? Ah yes, to show off their eye for design and make us drool. That, I guess, is sort of the point of CES.

On my last day, I wandered the iLounge area for hours, making contacts and hoarding products to review for our upcoming network site, (I swear, I think 60% of those booths were made up of phone cases. But the others showed off some pretty interesting stuff, so if you’re into iPhone accessories, make sure to check out the new site when it launches.)


Final Thoughts
So in short, there was a lot of great action at the show. And if all there was to this writer’s experience was that I got to see these devices up close, I would’ve been darn happy. But no, two more things happened that elevated this trip from good to gobsmackingly great:

(1) I finally got to meet my crew! Aaron and I are combat buddies, having covered CTIA together, but I’d never met Noah or John in person. And after having worked with them long distance for over a year, it was amazing to rub Noah’s bald head for good luck at the show and gab like childhood friends with John, as we pounded the pavement from one hall to the next. And Aaron, my bud, is as cool as ever. (See? Now if a BlackBerry dude, an Android expert and an iPhone gal can be friends, can’t we all get along?)

(2) And last but not least, I got to meet my hero! As a tech blogger, no one has influenced me more than this man, and I have to admit I was starstruck when I actually got to shake his hand. (I’ll leave this one as a quiz: Can you identify the person below? Your whole geek cred hangs on this.)

So that was my trip in a nutshell. All in all, those few days were amazing. And I’ll need another week to recover from it all. But even on the flight home — as I slept in my crowded plane, with my head sliding against the windows and my knees banging the seat in front of me — I had a huge smile on my face. Thank you, PhoneDog and all you PD readers for making this trip possible. If I could've, I would’ve brought every one of you with me. But hopefully the coverage made you feel like you were there, which was the whole point of the trip.

Adriana and her tech journo hero. Can you identify this man?

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