CES 2008: My Successes and Challenges on Covering CES

Rob Bushway Every year I attend CES, I learn some things to help in next year’s coverage. This year was no different. As a team, we definitely learned some things last year that impacted how we approached CES this year.  On the whole, I believe we were quite successful. There are definite areas for improvement, but I couldn’t be happier with what we did, how we did it, and what we did it with.

Here is a list, in no particular, of the successes and challenges I faced. Other GBM staff members will be doing the same, and you can expect their lists to be different from mine. It is worth noting that even though OQO sponsored our CES coverage and provided 2 Model 02’s for our team to use during the event, we’ll be honest in our use of the devices.



  • The Flip Video Ultra was instrumental in our ability to capture quality video and travel light. Every GBM team member had a Flip, and we were able to import directly to our computers via USB without having to mess with tapes and playback. Couldn’t ask for anything better for $249.
  • Connectivity – The Bloghaus played a crucial role for our uploading dozens of 50 mb + videos. I don’t know how big of a pipe they had, but it had to be at least a 3 mb line. After each day, we would stop by the Bloghaus to pump out content, upload videos, and relax. The Bloghaus has definitely made a way into our CES schedule for next year. As Warner eloquently put it, what can be better than blogging and eating oysters on the half-shell!
  • I brought along two extra batteries for the Model 02, but never had to use them, primarily relying on the extended battery. I was on / off throughout the day, but found that I typically didn’t have to find a power source until we hit the Bloghaus after 4:00 or 5:00.
  • The Model 02 was really good for me. More times than not, I was walking and typing at the same time, getting posts up. On the very first day, I got a call from a client with network issue. I sat down, plugged in my card, and had their problem fixed in no-time. I had a lot of folks stop and ask me what I was using. They were all pretty intrigued with the Model 02, and the mobile possibilities it offered.
  • Most of us used Canon SD series still cameras and they took awesome pictures. In previous years, I had taken my Nikon SLR, and while a good camera, it was just too bulky. Going mobile with the SD series was a good move.
  • Going light and carrying the Tom Bihn Buzz bag was a really good move for me. My back is much happier! It is amazing how much you really don’t need to get a job done effectively.
  • I’m surrounded by the best team ever! As the years go on, we are becoming really, really good friends, and as you’ll see in the upcoming MobileDemand InkShow, we have a great time just being around each other. They are really good for me.


  • Connectivity – this was a major area of frustration for everyone involved. Cellular coverage was very spotty and overwhelmed. Cellular coverage in the hotel was horrible, going from 5 bars to 1 bar with no explanation. Our hotel charged $12.95 per day per laptop, and they wouldn’t allow mobile routers to be hooked up. Needless to say, uploading video using cellular turned out to be out of the question. We were so thankful for the Bloghaus.
  • Producing video on the OQO Model 02 was time consuming and quite taxing. For example, encoding a 5-10 video in Windows Movie Maker 2.6 took about 30 – 40 minutes, compared to about 5 – 10 minutes on an X61. After the first day, we decided to take our video to the Bloghaus and produce on a more powerful Tablet. As it turned out, we were moving so quickly, it was really best to put off our video producing oor later in the day anyway. It helped us get more covered. Next year, we will definitely be bringing one or two more powerful tablets along with us for video encoding, but not concentrated on getting video up during the day time due to the need to cover as much stuff as possible.
  • I don’t use integrated WWAN on my own OQO Model 02, opting for a USB Novatel USB727 EV-DO modem. Because the Model 02 only has one on-board USB slot, this proved to be quite frustrating in getting pictures posted while connected. It meant I was doing frequent USB connects / disconnects between the modem and the camera in transferring pictures. We didn’t have that trouble with the other Model 02’s because they were using integrated Sprint WWAN.
  • My wrists and thumbs hurt from doing so much thumb typing on the Model 02. I don’t recommend thumb keyboards for typing throughout the day like I had to do during CES. In my case, it was worth it, because of how mobile I was. But, they do hurt.
  • By the end of the day, the battery on my HTC Tilt was depleted.
  • Don’t install beta or test apps days before or during CES. I ended up hard-resetting my phone due to instability.
  • For taking notes during interviews and booth stops, I found it easier and less hassle to do my note-taking on paper-based notepads rather than bringing a tablet / umpc out of standby and taking notes. The first day, I left my paper-based notepad at the hotel and regretted it. I have found this to be the case every year I’ve gone to CES. That’s right, from the mouth of Tablet PC evangelist – paper, depending on the situation, is oftentimes better.

I’ll post more thoughts as the week goes on. Right now,  I’m enjoying being home with my kids, recovering from being sick, and watching Seattle and Green Bay battle it out. Go Favre!