The Wax Conspiracy

Heroes amongst the Hard Sell - Consumer Electronic & Entertainment (CEE) Expo @ Fox Studios, 12/06

The morning had been foggy, and bad traffic was a worry to me. No real worries though, as Belvedere and myself were well on the way to being "on time" to this particular event. The location was Fox Studies, which included a small ransom for parking. But that's a different story.

Press registrations were the first stage of the day. Now... Name and Press affiliation; it's what they want. "The Wax Conspiracy" always manages to get at least one eyebrow raised. We were handed the passes and set free to wander the confines of the exhibition. Not quite "free" in the standard definition of the word, however. Mr Security Guard always seemed to find us whenever we walked too far in the wrong direction. "Media should be at the Panasonic Display for the presentation in a few minutes".

He nabbed us again a few more times, and after a while, it took much less than a subtle glare to know we were in the wrong and to move quietly to the next presentation.

A wealth of information is thrust upon any member of the media. Piles of literature, and in some cases, lollypops. Plus a bevy of the gimpy looking freaks representing the media industry.

The first presentation was from Panasonic. Scenesters took the stage, but some kind of delay would have the standing around looking sheepish. There was tapdancing, and then some kind of fashion parade. Only after each model had done a few laps did they start stomping around the stage with Panasonic equipment adorning their necks. The hall is or at least should be known for bad acoustics; most of each speakers? voice was lost into the air. Each speaker held 4 items up for the crowd & cameramen and jabbered on while their image was flung onto a matrix of 5x5 screens above their heads. As a company, they seemed to have a bunch of trouble working the mic. A big fuss was made over some crazed advertising campaign being launched this Sunday evening. Something about all the stations playing it at once, but just after the footage rolled, 3 Panasonic employees around us cursed at the same time. What had gone wrong? It remains a mystery.

The LG display was delivered sans microphone; which made it difficult to hear. These guys have a range of white-goods that are Internet-ready. This baffles me. As did the journalist with the pink shoes holding the scooter. That scooter was more a hindrance than a comfort when travel was not in the picture. At any rate, LG seemed to have bright colours on their demonstration models, and audience participation was limited to following the speaking fellow around to look at this and that. The screens showed supercrisp images and lively colours. The portable sound technology is tiny and probably easily lost in a world such as mine.

It was at this point that we noticed that most talking was done in acronyms and numbers. This really took the human element out of the whole show.

The LG rear projection 60 inch television is what caught my eye. No distortion from any angle, but, more issues (I found) with reflection than regular less-than-flat televisions. I guess all light is bounced off at the same angle, or some such thing.

Once the promo was finished, we were given precious little time to examine the wares on our own. No sooner had we started examining both the surround-sound setup & accompanying couch than the voice on the p.a. told us "all media to the Toshiba display", we had to apologise to the poor fellow who had just started his "LG surround sound" spiel while we scooted off.

Toshiba have this neato television concept whereby you can simply cram your memory stick from a camera straight into the set. I was impressed no end. But their demonstration footage was comprised mainly of some girls in bikinis; clearly an attempt to buy off the geek in the crowd. But we had more fortitude than that. The talking man said something about putting silicone on the LCD screen to avoid the burn-in effect, but we were distracted by some guy who needed our attention. He was promoting some sort of talking street directory.

"Sounds interesting" I told him.

But I'm not sure people like Belvedere or myself are ready for such advances. I don't trust it. Probably some ploy to get us driving into some crazy trap where we're stripped of wallets and pants and told to walk home. The rest of the demonstration went ahead without incident or accident, and we were told about how many awards the rear projection set already won. Once again, no sooner had it finished than the voice on the p.a. was aiming us at a different part of the arena.

The Philips stand was where the voice sent us. They were ready with a snappy presentation, but the visuals had failed on their latest television commercial. While Toshiba have opted to make all of their products massive, Philips have made all their stuff tiny. Around the neck cameras and mp3 players. Some lady called Liz was talking about convergence of things, but she never let on as to specifically what "things" were converging. Rambling about "personal expression" lead Belvedere to propose that such a thing might not be possible in this filthy consumer world. How can it be personal if there's a million others exactly like it? Baffling. And equally baffling (to me) was the wireless monitor. Walk up to 30 metres away from your pc carrying only the monitor. It had touch-screen capabilities and we were promised to even be able to use it in the bathroom. Such antics are not up my alley, and I pondered the necessity of such a device. Sure, you're free from the desk, but you can't do anything because you've got that monitor in your hand. And a matching keyboard that can be operated 5 feet away from the monitor. Why are these things being kept so far apart? But mysteries were forgotten when the human-garnishes came about with baskets of sandwiches, making it the best promotion of the day. But attractive girls yielding food is no form of advertising; not if you listen to Belvedere. "This isn't advertising or an industry display. This is blackmail. Bribery. Trying to shut us up by stuffing our mouths with food".

Next port of call was the Yahama display where we were herded into a shoebox and told about a projector that cost $24,999. I have no use for such a device. Neither have I a use for a client/server home entertainment system. I guess I lost interest in that also, but it seemed really well developed. This presentation is stuck in my mind as the one that people asked the most questions. Others had panels of people waiting for something to say. But this is where the questions were flying. Possibly because it was more of an innovation than, say, adding "internet" to a washing machine.

It was media only until 12 midday, so when Joe Public started walking in, we were once again looked upon as people to sell to. No, we don't want to buy Java games for my crappy phone. I don't want to buy a clip to hold my belt onto my phone. And we were walking away from the "Speakers in Rocks" guy when 2 human-garnishes walked past uttering "Hey cool! That rocks" and we died on the spot laughing.

My XBox LIVE partner was a mute or an idiot, and nailed me good and proper at Street Fighter without uttering a syllable. I'm sure it's better when the other person responds to my begging for interaction.

CEE next year will no doubt have bigger, better and more goods with added internet. How can technology progress? By getting smaller and bigger at the same time.

Jimmy Weasel

Reviewed on Friday, 13 June 2003

The Wax Conspiracy




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