Welcome to the Big Show: A Newbie's First Trip to CES

I just got back from CES 2013. It was the first trade show I’ve ever been to. Like a woman on an elevator said to me, “There’s nothing like cutting your teeth on the world’s biggest show, huh?” Indeed. Fitbit With Self-Guided Tour SignCES 2013 was everything I could have imagined and more. On Monday, before the show officially opened, I went around the halls to deliver the self-guided tour signs we had made for our favorite exhibitors from the show. After entering North Hall – maybe the smallest of the three main halls – I was breathless. Its massive size staggered me.

“This is just the first hall?” I asked my new friend Chris Dawson, who was amazing and helped us out all week.

“Man, this is crazy,” Chris said. We didn’t need to do much talking. CES did the talking for both of us.

Walking around, delivering those self-guided tour signs, it was awesome to get to peek behind the scenes at CES in progress. With less than 24 hours to go and many exhibitors either not there yet or with a lot of work to do, I was really curious to see how it’d all turn out the next morning, when CES officially opened to the public.

The exhibitors did not disappoint. From booths like Ford’s with multiple cars, to DTS’s booth that featured a two-story house filled with dancers, to Samsung and Sony’s sprawling booths far bigger than my own home, the finished products were astounding. From the littlest exhibitors to the biggest companies in the world, everyone who showed up gave it their all. If you ever have the chance to go, take it: the extravagance of CES lives up to that of Las Vegas, its parent city.

CES was a great place to learn what tech I just NEEDED to have that I didn’t know existed before I left. After being without power for 10 days after Hurricane Sandy, finding out that Goal Zero offers solar-powered generators that can power a refrigerator for multiple days on a single charge was like music to my ears.

CES was also the perfect place to pad my ultimate wish list. Shelly’s covered Ultra HD TVs extensively already, but seeing a 110” 4K TV is amazing. I thought my Sony 46” 3D LED was good. It’s such a disappointment to me now. I’m embarrassed to even look at it.

My first press pass!More than just tech goodies, though, CES was about people. People I’d only met electronically – like one of our VIP tour guides Jim Turner, one of the nicest and most personable people I’ve ever met, and (from what I heard) one of the best tour guides in the world. Or people I’d never met before but instantly became friends with, like Chris or Ashley or Ciara, all of whom we hired to help out with our booth and did more than we ever could have asked for. Nice, helpful, enthusiastic… seriously, what more can you ask for?

Or any of the other 150,000+ people at the convention. Everywhere you went, both inside the convention halls and out, even on the Strip, you would see people with CES name badges. Even if they weren’t wearing a badge, it was a pretty safe bet to say they were in town for CES. There was instantly a bond – a combination of the excitement of being in the world’s largest tech toy store and the fatigue of running around like a madman for a week – that connected you to these people. It’s a feeling that’s hard to come by.

I can’t wait to go back next year. Only 359 more days!