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On With The Show!

Happy New Year to all, and welcome to another International CES week.

This is show No. 21 for me, and despite my mutterings in the weeks leading up to it, as our staff prepared this special CES issue as well as hundreds of pages of the Official CES Daily amid the crunch of the holiday season, I couldn’t be more excited to be back in what I like to think of as the center of the technology universe.

I’m one of the lucky ones who gets a sneak peek at many of the thousands of new products and ideas that make their debut here in Las Vegas annually, and I can assure you that many of the innovations this year are brilliant, mind-bending, fresh and focused.

There will certainly be a buzz around 4K Ultra HD TV as the category hit a somewhat surprising home run for retailers in the holiday selling season. Sure, some of the promotional activity left a few observers wobbly, but consumer awareness of the fledgling category gained some solid momentum, and high-ticket sales filled many specialty retailers’ stockings with some long-overdue holiday cheer.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new generation of Ultra HD sets up close. It will surely be a highlight for me TV sales weren’t the only thing keeping dealers jolly. Rising consumer confidence and plummeting gas prices seem to have reawakened the American consumer, and those in the know whom TWICE spoke with are suddenly sunnier on the prospects for the new year. (For more on this, see senior editor Alan Wolf’s report)

Growth and profits continue on an upward path due to a preponderance of relatively young product categories starting to mature. This year’s batch of wearable technology, whether it be in fitness and wellness, mobile communications, healthcare or imaging, is staggering in its breadth and depth. Smart watches from some seriously major technology and fashion companies (including one particular outfit in Cupertino, Calif.) are poised to thrust the category into the mainstream. The wearables market may rival the trajectory of the tablet market a few years back, with an added fashion element that should ignite interest from practically every channel of retailing. I’ll go on record as saying 2015 will likely be the year of the smart watch.

Other things I’ll be keeping my eye on as I wander the ever-expanding show floor and various far-flung hotels this week: 3D printing and its potential as a legitimate consumer category; robots, because, well, robots are just cool; drones (see robots); high-res audio (rumor has it Neil Young will be in town with his Pono player … shhhh); and a host of action and 360-degree video cameras that are changing the way we see the world, literally.

Also, I want to see a driverless car park itself. I want to see which keynoter will trot out the most surprising celebrity guest. I want to give my ears a treat and try on the latest and greatest high-end headphones. I want to rub elbows with a Ramone (that would be Marky, thanks Klipsch!). I want to see Jack Black play some rock & roll (Thanks Rolling Stone!). But, mostly, I want to talk to our readers and get your take on what promises to be another mind-blowing display of the genius that makes up the technology world. Yeah, it’s exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade my front-row view with anyone.

And, just a reminder, you can join me even if you’re not at the show. TWICE has launched, which employs a sophisticated social-media curating tool, in cooperation with our sponsoring partner LG Electronics. It’s your one-stop shop for breaking news, photos, event coverage, and maybe some laughs, in real time from TWICE editors and a highly curated list of industry influencers and decision-makers. Please come along for the ride.

Happy CES everyone. Here’s wishing you a great show and a profitable 2015.