Covering something as massive and crushing and utterly divorced from reality as CES is half art, half science, and if you want to do it well, all heart.
That's the real secret, if you want to know.
But I suppose some of you might also want to know how we covered it, the tools the 12 or so of us used everyday in the field to drop a bajillion posts about all of the tech you'll be touching in the near (or maybe not-so-near) future. We write about a lot of gear; we use a very small selection. This is what got us through CES.
Did you like our photos and videos? I hope so. Here's what we shot with, for the most part: Canon 1D Mark IV, Canon 7D, Canon 60D, Canon Rebel T2i, Nikon D3100, Nikon J1, Sony NEX-C3, Sony A700, Olympus EP-3, Olympus EP-L3 and the Panasonic GX1. Along with a handful of glass like Canon's F2.8 70-200mm lens for getting up close enough in keynotes to count the hairs on Ralpha de la Vega's mustache, even from a mile away. (Lens rental provided by our friends at BorrowLenses.com.)
The biggest deal this year? We ditched 3G completely, going 4G all the way. It's the first time we've never wanted for bandwidth, which is a pretty amazing thing, since it's always been our scarcest and most precious resource. Now it flows like water from the sky. (Water from the sky would be crazy right?) Mostly with dongles and MiFis from Verizon, whose LTE network carried our words and bits out to you guys, even from the darkest, smelliest bowels of the Sands Expo and Las Vegas Convention centre. We had a couple of AT&T LTE phones too, which surprised us with serious speeed and reliability throughout Las Vegas. And Clearwire's 4G dongles cut straight to the heart of the LVCC press room.
No Windows machines were used in the making of this coverage. It was MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs across the board. For the first time ever, I think. Mostly because so much of the software we use is only on OS X, or works better on Macs. But maybe that'll change next year with the new ultrabooks and Windows 8.
How do you sit through seven straight hours of press conferences, powering 4G dongles and phones and tethered cameras without scrambling for a wall socket every six seconds? With big-ass HyperMac batteries, which almost always get us stopped at the airport. And for smaller gadgets, battery packs from Energizer and Duracell.
Text messaging is the only reliable form of communication in the wireless flustercuck that is probably the world's largest gathering of data-eating smartphones, dongles and hotspots. And GroupMe kept us together.
An Aeropress, Kantan drippers and Four Barrel coffee, even though we didn't get to make much because we didn't have a water kettle and couldn't get anybody to bring us one. We ate a lot of beef jerky and Clif and Muscle Milk bars, too.
I think that's about it. Orbit gum and Degree deodorant, which should really be in every tech writer's bag at hot and smelly trade shows. We loved every minute, and we really hope you did too. And hey, look at that, we didn't die.