CES 2010 diary: In cool Las Vegas, the gang's all here (and they're excited)

CES 2010: A dual-screen Android e-reader, televisions shaped like polar bears, speakers that hide in lights, flexible displays and detachable tablet netbooks. It's 2010, and CES is back!
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor

LAS VEGAS -- As the marquee lights of the Las Vegas Strip dance and flicker while dusk falls over the cooling desert, warmth brews indoors as glasses clink, people laugh, fingers tap and speakers pulse with music.

The location? The Venetian Ballroom.

The event? CES Unveiled, the kick-off press event for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.

A pre-show event that many folks traditionally don't attend, CES Unveiled was crowded enough this year that it took more than a little effort to make my way across the room, laptop and camera in tow.

Why is strong attendance so important? A major question going into this year's show is just how badly it would be affected by the stagnating economy. Last year, in the shadow of the market crash, attendance was noticeably lower and the mood more subdued. Short of a thrilling and unexpected press conference by a small mobile company from Sunnyvale, Calif., little managed to raise a pulse.

This year's mood is much different; it's almost jovial. The bottom is behind us, and there's only good to come, people seem to indicate.

At the door, Parrot wowed a circle of attendees with its AR.Drone quad-helicopter that powered itself purely from Wi-Fi signals.

Just past that, toward the rightmost wall, folks were stacked several levels deep at the Lenovo booth to see the IdeaPad U1 hybrid laptop (pictured above) with detachable Snapdragon-powered display.

Opposite that, the D-Link folks were demonstrating the tiny, affordable Boxee Box media streamer and its remote with a full QWERTY keypad on the underside.

Sure, many folks were at the event for the gratis shrimp, sushi, hors d'oeuvres and drinks, but the general sense was this: folks are excited again about CES.

That's hard to believe considering Google made the biggest product announcement, its Nexus One phone, away from the show.

But folks want to see exciting things coming from the tech industry, and this year proves to destroy previous boundaries. Gaming laptops? Thinner and more powerful than ever. Television channels? Eye-poppingly entertaining. Multimedia laptops? The new all-in-one desktop. Set-top boxes? As good as your computer. Netbooks? Touchy, swively and more useful. Smartbooks? Your next favorite gadget category. E-readers? Popping up in all sorts of formats.

And that's not everything. At the CES Unveiled event, I played with Spring Design's Alex e-reader (pictured above), Hannspree televisions shaped like apples and polar bears, Klipsch LightSpeakers that hide in light bulb canisters, and at least two versions of flexible displays, including one Asus concept called "Waveface."

I could go on, but you get the picture. And the show hasn't even started yet!

Are you excited? I'm excited.

Up next in CES 2010 coverage: Press Day, with news from LG, Netgear, Cisco, Toshiba, Pioneer, Sharp, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony and more, plus a keynote speech from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Make sure to follow ZDNet's CES 2010 coverage here on the Toybox, on the Mobile Gadgeteer blog, Digital Cameras & Camcorders blog and Home Theater blog.

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