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CES 2006 Offers Nerdvana to Largest Crowd Ever

This week, North America's largest trade show, 2006 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), kicks off in Las Vegas with over 200,000 attendees. Yes, CES is a mess, and it's getting busier every year. And once again, I'll be there, covering the show live each day, Wednesday through Friday. I'm not sure whether to be excited or scared.

Did I mention that CES is huge? It encompasses a space equal to more than 28 football fields with room for over 2500 exhibitors. Computer companies such as Intel and Microsoft have always had a big presence at CES. But this year's show will be notable because of the new presence of Internet giants such as Yahoo! and Google, both of which will present their services alongside the eclectic array of car stereo, home theatre, video game, and consumer electronics companies that have always plied their wares at CES.

Intel will use CES to unveil its new consumer-oriented marketing scheme, which will see the launch of its new corporate logo, a "Leap Ahead" marketing slogan that will replace "Intel Inside," new single-core and dual-core microprocessors, and the Viiv Media Center PC platform. Sony will push Blu-ray. Microsoft will push its Media Center PCs and Windows Vista. Video and flat-panel TVs will be everywhere. And companies such as Dell, Intel, Sony, Google, and Microsoft will provide executives for keynote addresses, including the CES kickoff keynote from Bill Gates.

For me, CES is the culmination of months of phone calls and email messages from PR firms eager to get exposure for their clients. For the past few weeks, I've weathered a blistering attack of dozens of phone calls each day, and as CES gets closer and closer, I've marveled that these people are still trying. Even though CES is busy, loud, and huge, it will be a relief to get away from that ringing phone.

Stay tuned. My live reports begin tomorrow afternoon.

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