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Dispatches from CES: 'Wall Street,' Balloon Porn and a Nasty Case of Gastroenteritis

Like Cinderella's magnificent chariot turning back into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight, the wondrous luster of CES quickly transformed into a big, rotten vegetable as we entered Day Two. Maybe it was the fact that the whole Switched crew came down with violent food poisoning (we're looking at you, CES-provided media luncheon), or maybe it was the fact that, despite its metastasizing breadth, CES has a whole lot less to offer this year. We sipped our electrolytes and nibbled our Saltines before hitting the convention floor, determined to find the digital diamonds in the rough -- nausea be damned.

First, the good tech. We were happy to see that Memjet had found partners to implement their ultra-fast printing tech. At 60 to 70 pages per minute, this is the speediest printing we've ever seen. Oh, and it handles edge-to-edge jobs, no problem.
While its software design is still fumbling to keep up with the sleek interface of Apple, Microsoft's hardware aficionados tend to give Cupertino a run for its buck. Announced yesterday, the Touch Mouse takes after the Arc Mouse -- in its swoon-worthiness. A solid, smooth mouse, the Touch results from several years of experimentation (some with a camera inside, some tethering mice together), and features insanely precise multi-touch functionality. Using your thumb to move back and forth, and one and two fingers to navigate, plus hyper-sensitive BlueTrack tech (and ringing in at $79.95), we wonder: What's so magic about the Magic Mouse, now?
To make sure we weren't all gadgets, all the time, we popped by Panasonic's first-time director's panel, which featured an eclectic, but oddly fitting trio of Baz Luhrmann ('Moulin Rouge'), Oliver Stone ('Wall Street') and Michael Mann ('Last of the Mohicans') to chat about the future of filmic media. All touted Blu-ray (while the rest of the floor was being courted by streaming TV), because, as all three argue, it just looks better. Luhrmann, known for his intensive disc extras, said physical media can allow the story behind a film to be told, and that he dreamed that "Orson Welles was on Blu-Ray" so he could hear more about the auteur's process. Stone vehemently added, "This is the best of the last hardware... But you'll never have access to it like a book or a vinyl record." Minimalism is great, but the joy of unwrapping a disc and popping it in -- well, that may never die. (We weren't able to snap photos, so we've borrowed images from Engadget. You can see their video coverage here.)
But then things started to get sad and creepy. We seriously saw a Japanese robotics company called Cyberdyne. It wasn't clear whether the name was a joke, but it appeared that the company is, in fact, in the exoskeleton business. Remind us to double-check our Armageddon bunkers for adequate food and ammo when we get back. 2012 is upon us way too soon.
One thing that is always insufficiently documented at CES is the wealth of interesting gadget displays. For example, we have no idea why this Asian cell phone cover company would want to advertise how its products look on a toilet, but we're not about to impose our American values on them.
We decided to take a CES break and head over to the bad side of the tracks at the Adult Entertainment Expo. (And we weren't the only ones; there were more CES badges present than we could count.) On the gadget side of things, we found a bevy of beautifully designed sex toys, like the Lalo features above, which we'll be putting together in a roundup tomorrow. We also found Vsex.com (NSFW, obviously), where users can pay to control a sex machine on a live model via webcam. The wave of the sexy future!
Then we ran across fetish website Mellyloon, which features models blowing up balloons until they pop. Um, yeah. Apparently, balloon fetishes are a thing.

We'd had enough. We limped even more feebly than yesterday back to our hotel, to sip broth and ruminate on the amazing strangeness of this city, which becomes even stranger when every nerd and porn fiend in the world descends upon Nevada. Then again, it wouldn't really be CES without this icky-awesome-surreal quality, that sick-to-your-stomach feeling caused by facing the combined enormity of human innovation, imitation and desecration. What will tomorrow bring?

Tags: aee, Baz Luhrmann, BazLuhrmann, bestoftherest, Blu-Ray, ces 2011, Ces2011, Cyberdyne, lalo, mellyloon, memjet, memjet printer, MemjetPrinter, Michael Mann, MichaelMann, Microsoft Touch Mouse, MicrosoftTouchMouse, oliver stone, OliverStone, vsex.com