How to Watch the CES 2011 Circus

In just a few days the CES 2011 hoopla will kick off in full swing. You could almost say it is full swing now with leaks and press releases flying all over the Internet. It really is a circus and a circus by definition is both fun and confusing. Confusing, you say? Yes, because a part of making a circus successful is misdirection. The idea is to make you see what they want you to see, and there will be plenty of that going on in Vegas.

The trick for those looking for what’s coming next in the world of mobile tech and mobile gadgets is to sort through all the hype and try to figure out who’s got something real to talk about. Keep in mind that quite a bit of what we see at CES in any given year never materializes as product and much of what does shows up after Labor Day. That’s not always the case, but it does happen. I’ll be watching from afar this year as I did last year. It actually makes it a bit easier to see the themes and trends emerge if you’re seeing things from a distance in my view. For example, last year’s “Year of the Tablet” mantra certainly seemed to be the way most folks covering the show were swallowing the PR line, but on even a quick analysis it was pretty easy to see that 2011 would see the real Tablet action.


Here is my list of things to watch as you’re watching the CES 2011 coverage here or anywhere else. Hopefully it will let you enjoy the circus a bit more.

These first three fall into a broad category for just about any gadget you hear about.

  • If a device can’t be touched at the show by bloggers or reporters you won’t see it until late fall of 2011 at the earliest. If ever.
  • If there is no release date or the release date is “later in 2011” then you know there are still quite a few things to work out.
  • If there is no price point announced then you know that all the parts and suppliers haven’t been nailed down yet.

These next items relate more to Tablets and Slates specifically.

  • If new device is being pitched by using the iPad as a comparison tool instead of the devices own features and benefits then you probably don’t want to take it too seriously.
  • Listen for what version of Android the device will be running. Anything being talked about at CES 2011 that isn’t going to run Honeycomb out of the box shouldn’t merit your full consideration. Vague answers about upgrade paths should raise questions not excitement.
  • Look to see if an Android Tablet will use the Google Apps and Marketplace. Be leery of “we’ll have our own App Store” comments. That may work out well for some Tablets and Slates yet to come but it is an indicator that should raise questions.
  • You’ll hear “It will run FLASH” quite a bit. The question to be asked is how well and which version? Search for Viewsonic and “not FLASH certified” to find out why.