The 2015 Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone from Las Vegas. The exhibitors have packed up, the high-class prostitutes have flown to Miami or LA to follow the next convention, and all the electronics dorks are settling back into their online games right about now. Yet there is still a foul taste in my mouth. The CES show was launched to showcase the best and the brightest of this year’s newest tech. This is the show were virtual reality, senior-assisting robots, and autonomous cars are supposed to be launched. But more and more this sprawling and oversized convention is packed with cheap knock-off accessories and failed kickstarter companies. Here’s a roundup of these offenders that make up the worst of CES 2015:
iPhone Cases – For the last 3 years, bright neon iPhone cases have been creeping into more and more of the show’s floorspace. Now, entire city blocks (no joke) of CES are populated solely with chinese manufacturers of cheap cases, accessories, and doodads. It feels like stumbling upon the alien queen of all those shopping mall kiosks and pop-ups. Few of these are nice or quality, and certainly none are electronics.
Selfie Sticks – Ah, the wand of the perpetually lonely and narcissistic. Selfie sticks are perfect for identifying someone you never want to meet – they are akin to an Affliction shirt for the Snapchat crowd. Why? Just why? The whole point why photography on phones has surpassed usage of standalone camera is because it is one less device to carry around. So why are all these firms coming out with accessories that require you to – gasp – carry something extra around?!?! iPhone lenses are pretty bad, but selfie sticks are on a whole nother level because of their cumbersomeness and sheer lack of any use besides providing a replacement for having someone take a photo of you. It’s not that selfie sticks will replace the need for friends, because if you have one you clearly have no friends to begin with.
Celebrity-Branded Headphones – Well at least this one is actually an electronic device. And there is certainly a place for branded headphones in the market and at the show. But once Beats by Dre hit the market, this trend got totally out of hand. Dre is a musician. He works with sound every day. It is at least arguable that having his hand guide or at least sign off on a headphone design would be useful. But Carmelo Anthony? A very dead Bob Marley? Car manufacturer Ferrari? For years audiophiles have ranked just about every celebrity-branded headphone down in the “Just Awful” range for sound clarity and response. Yet the CES halls are packed with them as more and more also-rans jump onto this branding bonanza.
4K TVs – Show me the person asking for this. I mean really clamboring and begging for an upgrade to 4K. This tech came out of nowhere 2 years ago and has landed with a resounding thud. This is a technology pushed by manufacturers onto the market, not one pulled from manufacturers by a hungry public. I don’t see any rush for people to upgrade from HD to 4K, not the same way people threw away TVs just to get into HD. There is also precious little content to actually consume. Sure the content will come, and sure when people naturally replace their TVs they will upgrade to 4K, but so far no one really cares. And now at this year’s CES we saw a handful of 8K TVs!
Waterbottle iPhone Charger – Time to get specific and name a single, terrible product. This thing. This damn thing. You’re looking at the Next Bottle. As in, this bottle is what is next in sports drinking evolution. The designers of the Next Bottle had a good idea, then they had another one, and another one. Then they crammed them all together and made a very terrible idea. The Next Bottle holds and charges your phone. It also has speakers. And a compartment for your keys and cards. And an aromatherapy piece on the lid so you get a nice smell every time you take a drink. Staaaaaahp. They have made a water bottle that functions as a backpack, but weighs about same as a pack as well. It’s too big to hold while you are exercising, plus water near my precious phone, plus just stupid.