If you've never been to Las Vegas or you've never been to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, you'd probably have no idea what to expect of either. Earlier this month, I experienced both my first visit to Las Vegas and my first CES. While Las Vegas itself was somewhat similar to the image I had of it in my head (large, fancy, themed hotels and casinos with an interesting blend of people from various places), I soon realized that my image of what CES would look like was a bit off. I was aware that thousands of people would be coming through the show to see the latest and greatest in the consumer electronics world, but the innovative products and the booths that these products were found at were what amazed me the most.

For example, our client Shure has a two-story "booth," complete with aesthetically pleasing displays of their products and two well-known DJs to entertain the crowd.

Every booth drew a crowd in their own, unique way.

With the hype of 3D television as one of the highlights of this year's show, I was eager to try this technology. After recently seeing the movie Avatar in 3D, I left the theater feeling dizzy and wondered if I could see myself actually using it. John Falcone of CNET asked the same question that I asked, "Does anybody actually want to buy it?" According to Falcone, "The industry thinks 3D is a slam dunk. It's already a hit in theaters–almost half of the top-10 highest grossing movies of 2009 were offered in 3D–so the thought is it should translate perfectly to the home." I'm with Falcone on this one. I find it hard to believe that a large percentage of consumers will want to put on 3D glasses every time they watch television, even if the effects are absolutely incredible. I suppose I could see myself watching certain movies or sports events in 3D, but I don't think I'm going to turn on my favorite TV show and think, "This would be so much cooler if it was in 3D." I'm very curious to see how successful 3D televisions turn out to be.

Aside from the show's most popular consumer electronics, I thought I'd give an overview of some of the products that I personally liked.

  1. HydroFill: "Horizon's HydroFill is made to convert water into hydrogen, and hydrogen into juice for your gadgets. CNET explains: 'The HydroFill extracts hydrogen gas from water and stores it in Hydrostik cartridges with a metal alloy that absorbs the hydrogen. To then charge electronic devices, people use a pocket-size fuel cell charger, called a MiniPak, which pulls hydrogen from the cartridges and a produces an electrical current.'"
  2. Underwater Digital Camera Mask: Designed for scuba divers, this mask allows them to take clear digital photos of fish right without much effort. A similar product was designed for snowboarders looking to film videos while on the move down the slopes.
  3. Zomm: "Zomm has introduced a solution to help consumers who constantly lose their phones: their device, the 'Zomm,' connects wirelessly with your phone via Bluetooth and will set off an alarm if you leave it. The Zomm also acts as a speakerphone to let you know about incoming calls." Mom, friends, and anyone else I know that constantly loses their cell phones, if you're reading this, expect this as your next Christmas or birthday present. In fact, I'm starting to wonder why we don't already own these.
  4. Samsung's Semi-transparent Laptop: While I'm not quite sure why you would need this, it is pretty cool. Most details weren't disclosed at the show, but we do know that, according to Engadget, "it's being celebrated as the first and largest transparent OLED prototype" and that "the panel is up to 40 percent transparent (as opposed to the industry average of below twenty-five percent)."
  5. Solar Chargers: Despite Treehugger's claim that CES 2010 was a "steaming pile of hypocrisy," there were plenty of environmentally-friendly products at the show, including solar chargers. The hybrid charger by Miniwiz is "capable of charging your gadgets using the wind or the sun’s rays." Other chargers enabled users to charge their gadgets while on-the-go, which is appealing for today's consumer.

My list of cool, notable gadgets from the show could go on forever, but I wanted to close by looking back on the products that have been released at CES over the past twenty years. This list, compiled by Randy Alfred for WIRED's "This Day in Tech" blog, gives a good snapshot of CES debuts by year.

  • 1990 Digital Audio Technology
  • 1991 Compact Disc-Interactive
  • 1993 Mini Disc
  • 1993 Radio Data System
  • 1994 Digital Satellite System
  • 1996 DVD
  • 1998 HDTV
  • 1999 DVR
  • 2000 Digital Audio Radio
  • 2001 Microsoft Xbox
  • 2001 Plasma TV
  • 2002 Home Media Server
  • 2003 HD Radio
  • 2003 Blu-ray DVD
  • 2005 IP TV
  • 2006 New digital content services
  • 2007 New tech-content convergence
  • 2008 OLED TV
  • 2009 Palm Pre

According to WIRED, "The 2010 show [was] expected to draw 110,000 people from 140 different countries." Over 330 new companies were scheduled to join over 2,500 returning exhibitors to "unveil upwards of 20,000 new products." In addition, "The Consumer Electronics Association also says each person attending the show averages 12 meetings, resulting in a total of 1.7 million meetings." Personally, I think this is incredible.

Were you in Vegas for this this year's CES?  What did you think?  As always, comments are welcomed.

– Contributed by Katy Rohlicek.  Follow her @katyroll