Charles’ CES 2018 Insanity Tour: Everything is a Lie and Nothing Actually Works

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 @ 6:54 | Events

Alright, so through a series of unfortunate events, I found myself at CES 2018.

Yes, that CES, the prestigious yearly industry-wide conference for bungling product reveals and overpromising while underdelivering. So basically 2.009, The Convention! As not everyone just gets to trip on the sidewalk and land in the middle of CES, I shall of course provide you all with my hot and fresh take on the world of the vaguely-consumer, mostly-electronics industry (as CES is basically turning into a car show, but more on that soon).

The event is ongoing this whole week – I’ve been operational here since Sunday the 7th and really have only found a moment to stop and write (Who reads blogs any more!?) about it now. [EDIT: Here’s Part 2, covering the middle of the week.]

Ah, I’ve barely left the airport and already we see a shining example of contemporary hardware product design: Try to make people pay for a service which, with some minuscule amount of effort, can be found for free! Thank you, brave hero.

Vegas is ridiculous. Why do people come here voluntarily again?

can confirm this place does their namesake very well

We lodged first at the SLS Las Vegas, but only for the weekend since rates went insane as soon as CES began.

“Where is your 3D Printing room? Do you have a laser sintering station?”  “….Sorry?”



After spending the previous evening goofing off, we got up early to witness the premier of the Byton. A couple of weeks ago, this company came out of basically nowhere to compete for the prestigious title of “Faraday Future of 2018“.

bewbs sell cars u kno

Okay, okay. I shouldn’t be so harsh. But it’s my opinion that Faraday ruined the overproduced app-car premier for everyone by bombing so hard in the intervening year, so I and a lot of others went in with a full vape tank of skepticism. It doesn’t help that they’re also Chinese backed, German-helmed, and allegedly poached a bunch of top Silicon Valley talent. This whole story is becoming very familiar.

And their presentation did not help me get rid of that preconception.

First, I turned the corner into the exhibit hall and was faced with this scene….

Wow, did I just join a cult or am I going to a premier event?!







Next up, the Tiësto concert presentation. Gentle EDM played for around 20 minutes with lasers, projected spotlights, and all.

Alright, I’ll skip the descriptions of the cinematics and ostentatious description of the most perfect urban white collar life ever, including straight up blatantly namedropping Whole Foods. This is the thing.

It follows the current trend of automotive design of being a large, flattish SUV-like form, so I wasn’t too into it. The front is rather Range Rover Evoque, the rear a little bit…. Nissan Maxima? Overall, not a very aggressive concept, which is fine. Because all indications were that the car part was the least important, this being a next generation Smart Device, a Smart Intuitive Vehicle if you will.

Their words, not mine.


It didn’t help that everyone was reading off these HUGE teleprompters at the back of the audience.

I give the German native CEO/CIOs some wiggle room, but nobody else had any excuse for doing so. Come on, guys. The delivery of everyone else involved just felt incredibly forced and dishonest. Those of you who were there would know the two ‘customer’ segments I was talking about.  You’re at a fucking hardware premier – tell me about that hardware, not try to sell it to me infomercial style off the bat.

You know when someone’s just reading off a screen. As a former lecturer who spent enormous emounts of efforts to make his class content deliver fluidly because I couldn’t stand professors who dryly read off Powerpoint lectures, I was quite dismayed here.


I wasn’t sure if this was supposed to be a good thing or not.


Overall, rather little proportional attention was paid to the technical specs and capabilities of the car, much less its design. Again, less car and more app. The information given made it seem like nothing very impressive – which, again, is totally okay, so as long as you own it. I, for one, absolutely love mediocre vehicles!

This photo of a partial frame rendering/cutaway was one of the only elements relevant to the car’s design at all. I’m completely not expecting showing me your entire CAD model, but damn, would a little discussion about the drivetrain kill the illusion?

(It probably does.)


Oh, this is gonna be good.

I went all the way out to Boulder City Airport – within a good diarrheic spurt of the Hoover Dam (which I did not realize I was so close to, since I had never thought about where it was) to see the first manned flight of the Workhourse SureFly passenger drone.

I like flying vans and basically want one as a life goal, so this was especially relevant to my interests! Just look at how close it is to a flying Mikuvan! Fun fact: About 8 years ago, I tried designing a flying van. The results were disappointing, because at the time, Emraxes had not yet been invented yet.

And this thing had EIGHT OF THEM! What more could I ask for!?

IT’S THE THING! This was as close as we were permitted to get due to some mysterious hand-waving. It’s a neat design – an X8 type configuration, and also allegdly hybrid. Though I gathered from the engineers present that it was flying without the generator, just an additional battery where it’s supposed to go.

What did it do!?


That was it. It did a few small bunny hops while chained to the ground.

The official story given was that the media ended up deciding to not show due to the company potentially calling a rain delay (for some reason, it decided to start raining in just these most recent two days). So they were just going to test a few little things anyway and we were free to watch. Well that’s interesting – it seems like the media might have gotten it backwards, because the BBC seems to say it was told not to show up! WHAT’S EVEN THE TRUTH ANY MORE!? In this age of Alternative Facts…

I’ll say that it seemed less than ready. The bunny hops were more lurches than anything else – I don’t think, based on watching my own video, that it really ever left the ground once. They had trouble getting all the motors to spool up during their first attempt. There was around 15 minutes of downtime as they dug around inside, then it was resumed. I’m inclined to believe that the rainout was a cover story to fix some kind of flight control issue, as by the time I got there, it was decidedly not very rainy. The ground was wet from earlier rain, though.

I will give that the thing sounds absolutely glorous once all 8 props are up and at it. I just wished it were at least somewhat okay at its job, and that I didn’t drop $40 on an Uber to get out there.

Dejected from seeing this vaping rig fail to put out some p h a t c l o u d z , I went back to the main convention to check out the other vaping rigs.



More to come! I can’t guarantee the ability to report daily, but there is more juicy flying van content among other things to come.



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    2 Responses to “Charles’ CES 2018 Insanity Tour: Everything is a Lie and Nothing Actually Works”

    1. Robin Bowes Says:

      I’m writing you a comment simply to tell you I love your resistor colour-code mechanism to prove I’m human.

      56K, right? :)

    2. Go ki Says:

      This is some refreshing CES coverage.