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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 5, 2015 at 11:49 AM

CES: The gadget mega-show begins

The silhouettes of media members are seen in front of Sharp Corp. 4K UHD LED televisions after a press conference during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 5, 2015. This year's CES will be packed with a wide array of gadgets such as drones, connected cars, a range of smart home technology designed to make everyday life more convenient and quantum dot televisions, which promise better color and lower electricity use in giant screens. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

The silhouettes of media members are seen in front of Sharp Corp. 4K UHD LED televisions after a press conference during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas on Monday. (Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

You’d think Microsoft and HTC were winning the smartphone wars looking around the 9:50 Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Las Vegas this morning.

Every other passenger seems to be using a Windows phone, except for the scattering of new HTC models here and there. There’s also what may be the largest concentration of Microsoft Band wearers outside of Redmond.

Yes, it’s a plane full of tech workers making the annual migration to the Consumer Electronics Show, where they’re hoping to see, sell or support the next wave of gadgets.

They’ll join about 160,000 peers flying in from more than 140 countries for the mega bazaar. New TVs, connected cars, wearable devices, online appliances, drones and robots will be highlights shown by more than 3,600 exhibitors.

Technically the show runs Tuesday to Friday but pre-show events began Sunday and continue through tonight, capped by press events held by twin giants Sony and Samsung.

See photos from this year’s CES in Las Vegas

Microsoft no longer opens the show with a speech by its chief executive, but the company still is sending a small army. It rented a ballroom for a closed-door showcase of its latest products and several representatives are speaking on panels throughout the week.

HTC, which has its U.S. headquarters in Bellevue, is holding an event Wednesday.

I haven’t seen any Fire phones on the plane, but Amazon.com is also participating, though with a low profile that belies its stature as a retailer and producer of consumer electronics. The company won’t have a booth on the main show floors at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Venetian conference center, but it has reserved meeting space and is participating in a content and advertising showcase nearby, according to CES organizers.

Really they’re here not to grab headlines with gadget announcements. Like Apple, they prefer to hold their own launch events. They make the trek and brave the lines to meet with suppliers, partners, retailers, distributors and press, all in one place in one crazy week. If they’re lucky, they’ll also get a chance to wander the show floor and see what all the excitement’s about.

I’ll be posting my reports from the show here through the week and in the newspaper.

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