CES so far

CES always seems shorter than it really is. We’ve been here in Vegas since Tuesday, reporting live on almost everything of any importance, and we’re all goofy and tired. I usually hate CES. It’s a long slog through endless halls and repetitive meetings that go over what has already been gone over. But this year was different.

This year’s CES was strangely subdued yet refreshing. CE companies have stopped the genitalia-waving associated with speeds, sizes, and megapixels and have started producing products with considerably more finesse. The devices we saw were well-designed and featured a number of clever UI tricks that can turn an average iPod dock into a thoughtful device designed for a specific purpose and person.

Manufacturers have figured out that numbers on products don’t sell. Features sell, and I’m talking about top-line features, not the details. Consumers have been bombarded with speeds and feeds for so long that they’re now noise. TV manufacturers, for example, have stopped fighting about screen size and have started focusing on how to convince millions of viewers to switch to a 3D-ready Blu-Ray/TV combo. That’s going to be a tough fight and it won’t behoove them to mention very much about HDMI interoperability and refresh rate. Instead, they are creating compelling reasons to upgrade including on-screen, open widget and streaming systems as well as cool new energy saving techniques.

The products this year are touchy feelie. Say what you want about cynical manufacturers “going green” but there is a focus on design and durability over high tech. Perhaps its a reaction to the economy – there’s no R&D budget – or maybe it’s a reaction to a skittish consumer who doesn’t want throwaway tech. Regardless, I like where this is going.