CES 2009: The Wootable Awards

by Jason Toon & Matthew Norman

Like Mao's troops at the end of the Long March, only with marginally fewer body lice, we reach the end of our marathon trek exhausted but exhilarated. The endurance test that was our CES 2009 coverage is at long last over. Along the way, we encountered the famous and the Internet famous, endured physical violence and mental anguish, and smoked a fake cigarette. And it was all to bring you this, the successor to the 2007 and 2008 Wootable Awards: our roundup of the most bizarre sights from a very bizarre five days. Roll clips!

Most Honest Display
A fitting introduction to the roll call of dishonor that continues after the jump...

Rockwell Award for the Device With the Most Penetrating Stare
What are you lookin’ at, tweeterface? If we installed these in our bathroom, we’d fear to wash our hair.

Creepiest Sales Pitch
Maybe it's just us, but if we were aiming to "demonstrate our taste", we wouldn't call our snapshots of women "photo-trophies".

Booth Attraction That Looks Most Like It Was Designed By Michael Scott
Round and round she goes - why she's so lame, nobody knows. "Bust A Move"? "More Cowbell"? Really? In this day and age? Why not "Excuuuuuuuse Me" or "Where's The Beef?"

Exhibit Most Likely To Be Defecated In
We never did find out what these were. (Saunas, maybe?) But we found out for sure that they were not working restrooms. Yes, we found that out in a big way. Our heartfelt apologies to the Las Vegas Convention Center custodial staff.

Worst Yet Most Versatile Logo
For now, call your company "Rapoo". Then, after you get busted for questionable business practices and are forced to reorganize under another name, just flip it over and presto: now you're Oodvj. Both names are awful, but think of what you'll save on stationery.

Most Zeitgeist-Aware Naming Trend
With the world economy locked into a grinding standstill, it's high time for entropy to make a comeback. Not sure if we'd really trust a communications company that comes right out and promises it, though.

Most Useful Gadget When You Need To Get Halfway To The Airport
Note to the proprietors of this abbreviated livery car: half a taxi is not quite "absolute".

Hardest-Partying Vehicle Security System
Those CANBUS capabilities will cost you an extra $40, or $80 if you want the really good s**t.

Most Chutzpah in a Video Presentation

Before the Monster Cable awards show got started, there was a video montage of celebrities endorsing Monster Cables, followed by this title screen. Quick as Monster is to unleash the lawyers whenever they imagine they’re being infringed upon, you’d think they’d stay away from other people’s trademarks. People, when you use the phrase “Famous Monsters,” you can only be talking about the late Forrest Ackerman’s film fanzine.

AYDS Award For The Most Unfortunate Branding Choice
One good thing about hitching your company to the Vista star: there's plenty of hitching room.

Most Unsafe Auto Accessories (tie)
If the ad is to believed, the iDeck for iPod is so irresistible, your hands will be forced off the steering wheel by the sheer force of the groove. But at least it's not an eBook reader embedded in your rearview mirror. We hope it comes with a TXT file of So You've Just Been Horribly Mangled In A Car Wreck.

Most Difficult Headphones To Wear
I'm sure they sound great, but are they really worth the painful and expensive cranial surgery?

Most Pathetic USB Flash Drive
Too often, today's woman is forced to choose between refined elegance and data portability. Why not bring both together in a faux-silver evening pendant? Oh, right, because it's a stupid idea.

Most Pathetic Licensed USB Flash Drive
Dream of ditching your office job to become an enforcer for the Sicilian syndicate? This flash drive is just like the one Don Corleone never used!

Least Fetching LED Gadget
Someday, Dave's going to make some lucky girl very happy, by getting as far away from her as possible. (Combine with the WANG jersey shown in the background for an ensemble that'll make you the belle of the mental ward.)

Best Off-Site Snack Shop
The Beef Jerky Store called - they're running out of you. It’s far from the convention center, just off Fremont Street, but the Beef Jerky Store is worth the trek. From beef to salmon to ‘gator to squid to tofu to tropical fruits, there’s nothing these jerky boys won’t dry out and sell to you in a pouch.

Least Effective Presentation Strategy
We doubt any booth visitors bother to struggle through these long, detailed paragraphs in tiny type. But if anyone does, he or she deserves to be made CEO of the company.

No Depression Award for Least Reassuring Brand Name In an Economic Downturn
Future history books will describe how, during the economic crisis of 2009, destitute cell users set up their own shanty networks outside cities across America, and they came to be known as “Hoovers Mobile.”

Gadget That Looks Most Like It Wandered In From That Other Convention
Sorry, the Adult Video Expo is in the other hall at the Sands Venetian. Yeah, make a right down that hallway there. No problem. Common mistake.

Gadget That Makes Us Want To Run For Our Lives
Whatever this suitcase assemblage of wires and timers is, we can't believe it got through airport security.

Lolita Award for Inappropriately Underaged Eye Candy
This apparently 14-year-old swimsuit model, featured in Hisense’s demo video montage, appeared in such detailed, razor-sharp focus, we could almost hear Chris Hansen shuffling papers in the next room. Maybe the point was to reinforce the idea of a “super slim LCD” with an ectomorphic preadolescent? It was weird.

Booth That Looks Most Like A Science-Fair Project
We'll give you that "participant" ribbon as soon as we're satisfied that your mom didn't help.

H.R. Giger Award For Most Disquieting Speaker Cabinet
Welcome to my spiny nautilus nightmare.

Best Candidate for a Name Change in a Vegas Restaurant: Penazzi
No soup for you! Until we saw this sign, we thought the recording on the casino’s P.A. system was urging us to eat at “the Nazi.” To which we thought: No, thanks. So what if it is the chef’s actual surname? If it’s got “Nazi” in it, even just phonetically, we say change it.

Most Blatant Pandering To The Trekkie Demographic (tie)
The first one obviously aims to win the hearts of fans with a sly Spock reference, while the second just goes for straight-up, unabashed fanboy gushing.

Most Exclusive Secret Society
O Gods of audio, receive our sacrifice! What, you thought "active noise cancellation" was a strictly earthly phenomenon?

Company Name That Sounds Most Like A Racist Making Fun Of Asians
Guangdong Dongfang, why do you hate yourselves?

Paper Or Plastic Award
As you’d probably expect, there was plenty of greenwashing going on at this year’s con. But you have to tip your hat to an exhibitor whose whole display is actually compostable.

Most Disturbing Diagram
Buy our product or these sonic waves will make this little boy cry.

Youppi Award For Most Disturbing Mascot
Jack in the Box commercials meet The Wicker Man in this terrifyingly cheerful procession across an unsuspecting convention floor. Help me, mother.

Least New, Least Great "Great New Idea"
This beardo stumbled in from the Northern wastes to pimp his idea for a fake dog turd you can hide your cigar butts in. It didn't go anywhere back in April, but keep at it, Matthew. Your venture-capital prince might be riding to your rescue as we speak.

Woot Spirit Award
Imagine our delight when, rounding a corner in the vast labyrinth of exhibit space, we spied these two conventioneers clowning with a pair of Woot-Off lights. Good-natured fun and questionable judgment! Those are the key ingredients from which Woot was made. These are our kind of people.

Whew! Speaking of endurance tests...anyway, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed our swanky hotels and excessively fatty, expensive meals. See you in Vegas in 2010, assuming we're not all standing on the bread line by then.

There's more of this kind of thing than you can stand on our CES blog page, including coverage from previous years. They all blur together after a while anyway.

Additional photos by Dave Rutledge & Scott Lydon