Tom Warren:

Since it’s not at the show, Microsoft has left it up to its hardware partners to push Windows 8. This year there’s an absence of new Windows PCs, especially exciting ones, and it’s noticeable. With a lack of new products and no presence on the floor, Microsoft and its platforms are almost nowhere to be seen.

Hard to see how this is anything other than a sign of the times.

Don Clark, reporting from CES:

That means making Roku’s home screen and content navigation system central to managing users’ interactions with all video content, removing what Wood describes as all the complicated settings, menus and features that characterize most Internet-connected TVs. There is also a simplified remote control Roku designs that has 20 buttons, which Wood estimates is half the number on traditional remotes.

Yes, Roku TVs can still get conventional programming from sources like cable services. “It does have a tuner,” Wood says. “We would like to get rid of it, but retailers don’t think they can sell them without it.”

We’ll see what actually ships, but I like a lot of the thinking here. Simplified menus and remotes are key. And there (unfortunately) there still needs to be a way to do traditional cable content as well, but that should just be another app.

Roku has always done a good job as a set-top box, but now they’re moving further up the stack. Beating Apple and others to such a move, of course.

Jason Evangelho:

Last month Dell launched a pair of UltraSharp monitors boasting 4K resolution, and dangled a sweet carrot in front of our early adopting paws: a forthcoming 28-inch Ultra HD monitor that would retail for less than $1000. Today at CES 2014 Dell revealed it, along with an aggressive price tag: $699.

Spec-wise, there are some caveats (like the refresh rate). But that price is pretty amazing. And so you have to wonder: can an Apple “Retina” Cinema Display be far behind? Sure, it may cost 2x what Dell is charging, but I still have imagine we see it at some point this year.

And yet another CES-slam (notice a trend?), this time from Mat Honan of Wired. He argues that the reason CES doesn’t matter anymore is simply because hardware doesn’t matter anymore:

This is a problem for CES, which has never really been a show about software. As software matters more and more, CES matters less and less. The internet is already the world’s largest trade show. Gadget blogs are the new conventions. The hottest products are all in app stores, or on Kickstarter. Sure, big electronics shows offer the opportunity to meet people and forge relationships. But even that transaction is being moved online in the era of real-time social media.

Smart thoughts. Though I’d argue more in the direction of the importance of hardware + software (hence, Apple).

Mike Isaac on CES:

Is the supposed premier event of the tech industry really the place we’ll see all of the year’s coming trends and successes play out? Can anyone name one single thing they took away from last year’s CES, save a nasty case of show-floor SARS?

The answer, of course, is no. Just as it was last year. And the year before.

I have never been to CES, and the only reason I’d ever imagine going is simply to see if it’s as big of a nightmare as people say it is. I have no desire to see anything launched there — zero. Because all the consumer tech companies I care about — save, perhaps now Samsung — aren’t even there. It’s a strawman of a show.

While some of what you read from the people who attended CES talks about how great it was — cool launches, record attendance, yadda, yadda — this is absolutely what it looked like from afar. Apple, Apple, Apple. (As predicted.)

Or worse: copy Apple, copy Apple, copy Apple.

A cynic might suggest that those who went are trying to justify their decision. A cynical bastard might suggest those same people are trying to justify their continued involvement with a show that simply does not matter anymore.

This won’t matter. This is nonsense. Case in point: CES 2011 — Motorola Xoom Wins Best of Show.

Update: CES Winners Are Losers

I’ve never been to CES and doubt I’ll ever go. The only reason I would have any desire to is just to see the spectacle of it, not for anything actually announced at the event, which seems to be less and less each year. 

As Nick Wingfield reports for The New York Times, this doesn’t sound good:

The group said it was expecting more than 2,700 exhibitors at this week’s event, compared with 2,800 the year before, although it does not have a final number yet because it is still selling space. Attendance for the show last year was more than 149,000, but it’s too soon to tell whether this year will exceed that figure. 

There’s one common feeling amongst every single person I’ve talked to that is going this year: dread.