CES 2008: The Wootable Awards

by Jason Toon & Dave Rutledge
Our long CES nightmare is almost over. We cavorted with the stars. We broke a major world exclusive. We showed what the electronics industry really thinks of you, and examined the intimate side of CES. We blogged from Vegas for all four days of the show. We even commented on other people’s commentary.

Now, it’s time for the return of the feature that made us the toast of the Internet last year: the 2008 CES Wootable Awards.

The Products
This is what people come to CES to see – or rather, this is what they wind up seeing instead of the wondergadgets they’ve been dreaming of. Meet the Woot class of 2009.

Least Brilliant “Brilliant Color Graphics”
The good news: the colors look great. The bad news: there are only 16 of them.

Least Impressive Laptop
Sure, it plays a mean game of Solitaire. But we’re concerned about its performance with more demanding applications, like Notepad.

Most Innovative Product
Experts predict that, within five years, “shred-tech” will dominate the electronics field. Ever edited photos of your grandchildren on a shredded circuit board? You will.

Least Reassuring Product Name
The handheld version of the popular PC game “Fatal System Error”.

Grossest Product Name
We don’t really need to go into the various unpleasant connotations suggested by the word “Dicple”. As for the product itself, what is it? Just look at the functions listed on the card – what isn’t it?

Worst Engineering Oversight
“OK, we’ve got the video monitors in the doors, the massive subwoofers in the back, and – oh, wait, we forgot that our customers have legs.”

Cheapest Exploitation of Patriotism
If your favorite thing about America is tacky, badly airbrushed car graphics, climb aboard the Why-They-Hate-Us Mobile.

Worst Automobile Accessory
This onboard beer cooler comes in handy when Mel Gibson, Tony La Russa, and Lindsay Lohan hit the town together.

Weirdest Place for a Screen
It’s a great truck for watching TV, but we wouldn’t take it mudding.

Worst Digital Photo Frame
At least the picture’s halfway decent.

Let Me See Your Wares
A big show like CES is the Super Bowl for product-merchandising and booth-design people. Unfortunately, many of them bring an XFL-caliber game.

Dumbest Corner to Cut
If you’re spending thousands of dollars to set up a massive display of your company’s awesome hardware, maybe it makes sense to spring for a registered copy of the game you’re demoing.

Least Eco-Friendly Eco-Display
To illustrate how their watches use way less power than a wasteful incandescent bulb, these people left several such bulbs burning throughout the four-day show.

Most Superficial Eco-Display
Random crappy products plus petroleum-based plastic plants equals not much.

Least Appealing Display Video
You’ve never seen the inside of your colon in such sparkling color before.

Laziest Product Display
Why bother carefully arranging your company’s USB keychain doodads? Just throw them in a pile and let their sheer awesomeness do the rest.

Saddest Display
Yes, it’s just an extension cord tossed into a glass case, like a display in the finest department store in Uzbekistan. To be fair, this would be spectacular if you’d never seen an extension cord before. Actually, no, it wouldn’t.

Most Racist Display
Even today, some companies still don’t believe that Americans of all skin colors should be allowed to push the same buttons. We shall overcome, brothers and sisters.

All Signs Point To Dumb
But showing off the products is only part of the total booth experience. You also need signs, if you really want to catch the eye of jerks like us.

Most Gratuitous Abuse of Marketing Verbiage
Somebody ate a thesaurus and puked it up all over this booth. Sometimes, the more words you use, the less each one means.

Most Suspiciously Familiar Slogan
We can’t put our finger on it, but this reminds us of something…

Most Zen Product Description
“Slogan of Joy” unbound by logic or syntax.

Best Company Name in 1993
Hey guys, maybe you oughtta get on this “macarena” trend – it’s gonna be all that and a bag of chips.

Company Name Most Obviously Produced By Committee
Just try saying it: the harsh sibilants, the clumsy s-v collision, the wimpy, guttural soft-l ending. And where do you put the accent? If you want to protect my ideas, Sisvel, show me that you understand which ideas are worth protecting.

Best Alien Detector
Freeze, you slinky androgynous extraterrestrial bastard!

Most Honest Feature/Benefit
This applies just as well to almost everything at CES.

Least “Lignual” Signage
This radar detector speaks two languages badly.

Most Charming Engrish
So sincere, so guileless. We half-suspect that this stuff is actually part of a diabolical plot to break down our cynical defenses against marketing-speak.

Best Handmade Sign
There wasn’t much else to do on that long flight over from Shenzhen.

Best Random Phrases on a Display Board
“And that was Gunfire Vibration with their new video ‘Fluid Contamination’, from the album Sand and Dust.”

Most Improved Signage
Looks like you cretins aren’t the only people who read this blog. After we poked fun at some unfortunate typos last year, the proprietors of this booth changed Slimest to “Slimmest”, and changed the URL on their display to one that they actually owned. Although you can’t see it here, they also changed WalletFlesh to “WalletFlash”. See, we’re not just making cheap jokes at the expense of others – we’re helping people!

And So Forth And So On And What Have You
But wait! There’s more! Here we have the Wootable Awards that won’t fit in your bourgeois pigeon-holes, man.

Most Demure Booth Babe
Dude, check out those ankles! Here’s a come-hither getup that even the Taliban can appreciate.

Least Comfortable Booth Seating
Am I supposed to sit on this or hitch my horse to it? See, the balding guy in the black shirt is already developing advanced arthritis.

Worst Makeover
In a misguided effort to capture that Vegas glitz, Dave turned himself into the love child of Ronald McDonald and Phyllis Diller.

Most Ridiculously Unpractical Oversized Tote Bag
If you can’t find a hotel room, curl up in this carry-all – and we do mean all.

Biggest Unsung Rivalry
Microsoft was sure that their plush booth carpeting would boast the deepest pile at CES. But there was one thing they weren’t counting on: Intel’s booth carpeting.

On that sexy note, we bring these festivities to a close. But hey – just because CES happened, like, two weeks ago doesn’t mean the CES in our hearts ever has to end! Stay tuned for, believe it or not, yet more CES BS, as we attempt to prolong our coverage until we have to leave for CES 2009. If you were one of the unlucky 140,000 who shared the ordeal with us, post your most ridiculous CES pics below.