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In Defense of CES 2022

Though not the typical full-sized show, those that came to CES 2022 got to see some great new tech and attend plenty of educational sessions.

I have to say, I am pretty tired of all the posts of people reveling in their definition of failure over CES 2022. Most of these posts seem to be from ex-media — often from people admitting to hating the show and not attending for years. Most of these posts have something like “I saw…” or “I heard…” or “I read…”

Well, I was there — and have been for nearly all of them over the past 10-plus years — so let me share a few observations from someone who actually walked the floor from Tuesday to Friday.

CES 2022 – TCL Exhibit
Photo by John Staley

Yes, the attendance was down; there were both fewer exhibitors and fewer people. But it was fantastic to be able to navigate the hallways without constantly crashing into people, feeling overwhelmed inside a booth, or having to wait in a long line to talk to people or get onto the monorail or a bus, and being able to call Uber and have a car show up in 3 to 5 minutes was wonderful.

A huge part of working in this industry is about connecting and re-connecting with people, and that was what this show is and always was great for. Seeing and talking to the people you might only get to see once or twice a year. You can not do this virtually.

I was fortunate enough to work on the Office CES Show Daily, published by the same people who produce Residential Systems and TWICE — and did five stories including the Day Two cover — and got to spend a lot of time with EiC Tony Savona and art director Nicole Cobban.

I had a wonderfully long dinner with Kimberly Lancaster, Pete Girard and Mitchell Klein where I got to chat with Brent Butterworth, Tim Albright, and Jason W. Knott. I had a terrific lunch and conversation with Melissa Andresko from Lutron Electronics where we caught up and came up with some great ideas for Cineluxe coverage of awesome Lutron projects.

CES 2022
Photo by Mark Reinertson

I ran into Rob Sabin — who gave me my start in this whole thing — as well as Adam Weissman and Caleb Denison. I got to catch-up with Kim Fabiano Fassetta from Shokz who I haven’t seen for a couple of years, as well as Jill Escol from Klipsch who I hadn’t seen since CEDIA 2019.

For me, this CES was less about the overall success and size of the event and more about just showing up, and I offer a sincere “thank you” to those companies that did show up. I went up to Samsung and TCL Electronics and Hisense to personally thank them for bringing such great booths with so many of their new displays and technologies.

I loved hearing the new SVS speakers and in-wall sub and will bring these in for review, plus its always entertaining chatting with Nick Brown. I got a ton of time to check out the new JVC U.S.A. NZ9 and talk to Jeff about bringing in a review sample and buying my own personal unit. The Z-Wave pavilion was on full display with many of their partners.

I don’t cover automotive, but thank you to BMW for bringing your full pavilion and fleet of demo vehicles and the color-changing SUV.

While the Central Hall didn’t have as much traffic, the Venetian Expo (formerly the Sands) was far more crowded, showcasing new and emerging companies and smart home tech, as were the sessions I covered for the Daily. Where were the pictures of these to balance out those of “empty” halls?

CES 2022 – Eureka Park
Photo by Al Powers

Not all was great. I was beyond disappointed that LG decided to not bring a single display. Seriously, just bringing the new 97-inch OLED would have been something — and garnered a ton of press. Also shocking was that Sony Electronics — who has an entire slate of new displays for 2022 — didn’t have a single new TV on display at the show. My company, Custom Theater & Audio, is a Sony Diamond dealer and seeing the new displays to plan and forecast future sales is a huge deal for us. But they did have Tom Holland at their press event, and that was pretty awesome. Plus, my pictures of Tom got me a lot of points with my 15-year-old daughter.

If you made the choice not to attend, that is certainly your right. We all have to make the best decisions for ourselves and our family. If you hate CES and “wish it would die,” that’s also an opinion you are welcome to have. But feel free to keep your opinions and diatribe to yourself — it does nothing to further the narrative or offer any insight on the event or industry.

So, thank you Gary Shapiro for putting on the best show under the circumstances. It felt safe and it felt important, and I look forward to covering and being a part of CES 2023!