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Digital Life: They'll Let Anybody In Here

NEW YORK--At every other trade show I've covered, the general public is not admitted. Here at Digital Life, $15, or $12 if you're a student or a senior, gets you in.

Paying any sum of money to spend a beautiful Friday cooped up inside a convention center hall looking at tech gadgets isn't something that I'd do on my own time, but plenty of people--mostly students, by the looks of them, plus a handful of seniors--seem to have thought it a good idea today. Last year's show drew about 50,000 attendees, but no attendance figures for this year's event have been released yet.

A "Deal or No Deal"-esque giveaway at Toshiba's booth gathers a crowd (Rob Pegoraro)

Perhaps because of the age of most people, the biggest crowds have been around some of the computer-game exhibits. At the back corner of the exhibit area, for instance, a Counter-Strike tournament put on by the Championship Gaming Series GGL league of professional video-game players (no, really, these things exist) drew a sizable audience. They stood and eyeballed the action over the shoulders of players on two teams who shot it out onscreen and yelled encouragement to each other ("Come on, guys! Let's play smart!").

The LA Complexity team battles through the game Counter-Strike. (Rob Pegoraro)

But Toshiba also had its exhibit area packed with people lining up to watch a "Deal Or No Deal"-inspired contest, in which one of the suitcases on the stage hid a new laptop. To judge from the clapping I heard from up in the press room a few minutes ago, somebody just guessed right and won the computer.

Most of the people strolling around are not just 20-somethings or younger, but also male. So I was surprised to see so few people lining up to have their picture taken with two Knicks cheerleaders. Then again, the Knicks' record the past few years might have had something to do with that.

All this fuss is supposed to drive extra sales down the road, but who knows what will actually pan out? "I really wanted to find something new, something extraordinary," said Hugh Isaacs, a Web designer from the Bronx, as he tried out the Opera browser at that company's booth. "Not yet."

Another attendee, Queens student Ashley Termonfils, did find what he was looking for: "Freebies!" He noted his haul of t-shirts, pens, and other goodies handed out by vendors.

Would you put down your own cash to spend a day checking out tech exhibits? Or are you just as happy leaving that work to the likes of me?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  September 28, 2007; 3:51 PM ET
Categories:  The business we have chosen  
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It's a tough job, Rob, but somebody's gotta do it. You missed a spectacular day here. Glad you took the train - I love Amtrak.

Posted by: Alexandria | September 28, 2007 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Remember that most people don't get to spend every day testing, writing, or talking about new gadgets. Going to a show like this is the only chance that most people will ever have to spend a whole day playing games and tinkering around with all the latest gadgets. When it's still a new and unique experience for you, this is genuinely entertaining. For a full day's worth of entertainment, $12 or $15 doesn't sound like a bad deal at all. Opening their doors to the public may also help the companies by giving them a more representative sample of popular reaction. Given the commercial failure of some big-name trade show hits, an open-door policy may make better business sense. Anyone know whatever happened to the Moxie (Anyone even remember if it was "Moxie", "Moxi", or "Moxy"?) or any other "best of" winners from the trade shows? Successful products have to be popular with people who will actually need to pay for them.

Posted by: Ann Anemas | September 28, 2007 8:25 PM | Report abuse

MacWorld Expo in San Francisco has always drawn a huge consumer crowd, taking over Moscone Center most of a week. Given the limited distribution of some Apple software and accessories, it's often the best (if not the only) way to learn about a broad range of products. Steve Jobs launched the iPhone at MacWorld this year. It's also a good social event for Mac fans, too. The next one is January 15-18.

Posted by: TonyW | September 30, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Yo Rob,

Where is the anti-apple post since they bricked so many iphones? Shouldn't we be all over this? What if Microsoft did the same thing - what would you say? Hypocrite.

Posted by: yorob | October 1, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

@ Whoever (yorob)

If you hacked your iPhone then you violated the terms of the contract. Period. That's the hacker's problem. And any smart person will know that software updates will be a part of our digital, gadget-filled lives for some time to come. Anyone who bought an iPhone agreed to use the AT&T network as the English folks will operate with O2. Much like some of the early adopters experienced the price shaft, the hackers should have adopted a wait and see attitude. Yes, they bought the phone and they can do whatever the want with it, just don't take the update. They didn't want to play by the rules and now we should have Kleenex readily available for them? I will shed no tears for these hackers. Why should Rob? And this is not really an Apple vs. Microsoft issue.

Posted by: umm.huh | October 1, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

What about legit third party applications that users want? Like an IM app, or a different calculator, or anything. If it's not apple, it's not allowed.

It's not an MS versus Apple thing. This is calling Rob out for holding up the same standards for all companies - not just selectively they way he always does.

Posted by: yorob | October 1, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Y'all haven't seen anything from me on the Apple iPhone update because I've been home sick with a cold. (If only I'd telecommuted last week instead of picking this stupid illness up at work...)

- R

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | October 1, 2007 4:21 PM | Report abuse

iPhone comments (don't have one, probably won't ever have one)

1. You knew that AT&T was the service provider.
2. You were informed that no outside apps were going to be allowed.

You knowingly violated both of these rules.

It does make an interesting paperweight, with a moral.

Posted by: blasher | October 2, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

FYI: corrected the identification of the folks who ran the gaming tournament.

- RP

Posted by: Rob Pegoraro | October 11, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

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