Got gadgets? 2013 is officially underway, and in the world of tech, that means it's time for the Consumer Electronics Show -- the largest, loudest, and lustiest tech show of the year.
Each January, geeks from around the world descend upon Vegas to seek out the hottest new tech toys and trends of the months ahead. The electronics ecosystem has changed a lot since CES began, though, and while the show still offers its share of shiny gadgets and sweeping promises, much of its luster has started to fade.
Before you let CES fever sweep you away, here are some important caveats to keep in mind:
1. If a company shows off a new product but doesn't provide pricing or availability info, there's a good chance we'll never see the product debut.
Whether the gadget is scrapped altogether or completely repurposed (paging Asus's MeMo 370T...), it's getting hard to keep count of all the high-profile products that have drawn "oohs" and "ahhs" at CES and then failed to ever make it to market. A good rule of thumb: If the pertinent details are missing from a manufacturer's pitch, it's probably best to take the entire presentation with a grain of salt for now.
2. If a company shows off a new product but doesn't let anyone touch it, there's almost certainly a reason.
Guess what? Heavily controlled comparisons always make the targeted product look good. But you can only put so much stock into those sorts of carefully prepared marketing messages -- especially when a company won't let reporters actually touch the product or conduct noncontrolled comparisons of their own.
3. The more a tech company touts its product as being "revolutionary," the less likely said product is to possess any revolutionary qualities.
Seriously -- you should see the list of pitches for "revolutionary" new products that have landed in my inbox over the past several days. You have to interpret this stuff the same way you read real-world social interactions: If you're at a cocktail party, you know the guy who can't stop talking about how smart and successful he is won't be the smartest or most successful person in the room. Similarly, when a product truly is revolutionary, its creator shouldn't have to keep painfully trying to convince you of its "revolutionary" status.
4. If an Android device is launched at CES, it probably isn't an Android device that's going to be terribly significant in the grand scheme of things.
At this point, the big Android players hold standalone events for pretty much every product that has a chance of taking off (by my count, Samsung held approximately 40,000 different launch events last year alone). We'll see a smattering of new devices from CES this week, for sure -- but it'd be surprising if any of them ended up being the products we'll still be talking about a month from now.
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