We'll start our coverage of CES -- the 40th annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas -- with Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates's pre-show keynote presentation Sunday night.
CES is the world's biggest technology event and North America's biggest trade show of any description. You can check back here for blog posts describing my experience there. It's my first time going and everyone says to drink lots of water and wear comfortable shoes -- there are 35 football fields' worth of official exhibit space to cover.
My CES posts will be tagged with the Consumer Electronics Show category for ease of access on this blog. Brier Dudley, our technology columnist, will also be attending and blogging from the event. He's been several times. When I asked him what to expect, he said imagine standing in a Best Buy on the busiest day of the year with every device turned on as loud as it goes. And it's busier, louder and crazier than that.
The Consumer Electronics Association, which puts on the event, has some statistics to put the show in perspective, if that's even possible: More than 2,700 exhibitors are expected along with something north of 140,000 attendees. Starbucks sold almost 100,000 cups of coffee there last year. The U.S. consumer electronics industry sales probably surpassed $135 billion in 2006.
Much of my focus at the show will be on Microsoft, which is launching Windows Vista and Office 2007 at the end of January. But the company will be talking about more than just its operating system and productivity suite. Product groups from across the company will be represented.
Of course, we'll also be reporting on other big news from the show, as well as trends in digital entertainment, Internet television, high-definition video, gaming and gadgets that might actually be useful -- like maybe a digital foot massager.